News Column

The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va., Rob Hedelt column

October 8, 2013


Oct. 08--IT'S interesting and a bit frustrating to see how many network dramas and comedies made over the past few years come close to good.

There are some really talented actors in shows that don't totally know how to use their talents.

A collection of new sitcoms--"The Millers," "Welcome to the Family" and "Sean Saves the World"--have potential and nice moments, though they don't quite hit the ball out of the park.

"Super Fun Night" is truly bad, not worth a watch.

CBS' "The Millers" is probably the best of this lot, largely because of a cast that includes Will Arnett, Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale (so good on "Justified").

The premise is the weakest part of the show: Mom and Dad (Martindale and Bridges) split up. He moves in with their daughter. She moves in with their son (Arnett).

Moments cross into that rarified air that is true comedy. But please, fewer fart and old people jokes and more real humor.

NBC's "Sean Saves the World" has one big thing going for it: Sean Hayes ("Will and Grace"). He plays a father suddenly trying to raise the daughter he has never parented before.

Toss in Linda Lavin as his mother and you've got all you need for a sitcom.

Hayes is a comedy heavyweight, someone who can carry a show on his shoulders. But at times, and especially in his character's work setting, it feels like he's trying too hard and getting too frenetic.

It's not that way with Lavin, who is also a consummate pro.

Minimize the office and maximize the home life and this thing will work much better.

NBC's "Welcome to the Family" tries for comedy by going where many shows have gone before. It connects very different families with young people who love each other.

Here, a young couple is suddenly pregnant. That's the launching point for a series about white and Latino families.

This cast is strong, with the teens' parents played by solid actors including Mary McCormack ("In Plain Sight").

Making a teen pregnancy seem funny and somehow welcome is a tall order. Hopefully this show will take the high road more than the low.

As for ABC's "Super Fun Night," stay away--very far away. While I think Rebel Wilson is a stitch, she's too out-there to be the center of a show.

This thing feels like something pulled together in 10 minutes by folks who think watching an overweight woman struggle to get in and out of "Spanx" is a hoot. It's not--and neither is the rest of this show.

Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415


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