News Column

3 new Thursday sitcoms: No, no, no

October 3, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 03--That loud clicking sound? That's America turning off its TVs.

What were the networks thinking when they granted these abysmal sitcoms valuable Thursday night real estate? It's as if they're daring us not to watch.

Just whom did they think this witless schlock would appeal to? Even the laugh track sounds disappointed.

Our first curdled specimen is The Millers (8:30 p.m., on CBS3). Stop me if you've heard this before, but it's about boorish seniors who move in with their adult children.

Oh, you have heard it before? It's the same premise as the season's most reviled new series, Fox's Dads? TV is such a small and shabby world.

The Millers' signal accomplishment is to take one of the medium's best actresses (Margo Martindale, who won an Emmy for her work on Justified) and turn her into one of prime time's most repulsively shrill characters.

Her Carol is such a controlling, self-absorbed monster that you almost feel sorry for her doltish husband, played by Beau Bridges (although why producers continue to cast him in comedies is a profound mystery).

Their put-upon children are played by Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Jayma Mays (Glee). Thank goodness for J.B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm) in a totally extraneous supporting role. You've never seen a sitcom more desperately in need of comic relief.

One of the bits in the first episode has Carol repeatedly trying to make herself regurgitate a pill. You're going to need a strong gag reflex of your own to make it through The Millers.

Not your cup of bile? How about a parade of stale stereotypes? Because your option in this time slot is Welcome to the Family (8:30 p.m., NBC10).

The affluent Anglo Yoders (Mike O'Malley and Mary McCormack) are delighted that their lazy, malaprop-dropping ditz of a daughter actually made it through high school. "She's Arizona State's problem now," exults Dad.

But on graduation day, she announces she's pregnant, thanks to a boy from another school, a mathlete and valedictorian who is the hero of the Hernandezes (Ricardo A. Chavira and Justina Machado), a hardworking Latino family. There goes Stanford!

As if that's not funny enough, the dads can't stand each other. Race, class, and personal insults are swapped freely.

Desperate Housewives' Chavira, as usual, seems to be trying far too hard. But it's a pleasure to watch O'Malley work. You just wish he had better tools at his disposal.

What's that you say? You can't stand any more hilarity on one night? Good, because we have only Sean Saves the World (9 p.m., NBC10) left to discuss.

The title character is played by Sean Hayes (Will & Grace). He's a stressed-out gay man trying to single-parent a teenage girl while beset by a caustic mother (Alice's Linda Lavin) and a nutjob boss (Thomas Lennon of Reno 911!).

The good news is that Hayes has been given a serviceable supporting ensemble (Megan Hilty of Smash and Echo Kellum of Ben and Kate). And, as his daughter, Sami Isler is the most appealing sitcom ingenue since Devon's Staci Keanan of My Two Dads and Step by Step.

The bad news is that Hayes isn't so much gay as he is neutered. And Sean Saves the World has the archaic look and feel of an '80s show. In fact, it is strongly reminiscent of the Tony Randall series Love, Sidney.

And that's a comparison you want to avoid at any cost.

Television

Welcome to the Family

8:30 p.m. Thursday on NBC10

Sean Saves the World

9 p.m. Thursday on NBC10

The Millers

8:30 p.m. Thursday on CBS3

dhiltbrand@phillynews.com

215-854-4552 @daveondemand_tv

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