Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pilot Review: Sons of Tucson

Sons of Tucson (FOX)
Premiered March 14 at 9:30pm

Tyler Labine is one of those actors who can stand out in a supporting role and deliver an immensely entertaining performance regardless of the material he’s provided. On ABC’s short-lived sci-fi drama “Invasion,” Labine provided comic relief as Dave, the brother-in-law of the main character. On the CW’s two-season black comedy “Reaper,” Labine was lazy and over-the-top as Sock, protagonist Sam’s best friend who had his back even if he’d rather make a little extra cash and get a little snooze time in the process. Now he’s at the helm of FOX’s new midseason comedy, starring as a man who lives out of his car and comes into the unlikely job opportunity of a lifetime, posing as the parent of three young boys and getting room, board, and a few hundred dollars a week. The obvious running joke is that Labine’s Ron Snuffkin is hardly an ideal role model, and that anyone who takes him seriously as a father to three children should be considered a patsy. Like always, however, Labine always comes through in the end and Ron manages to deliver several uplifting and surprisingly effective dramatic speeches even just in the course of the first episode. He’s doing everything he should be doing, making Ron into the perfect anti-role model character. That’s the only positive thing that can be said about this show though. At best, it’s a pale imitation of HBO’s fantastic series “Eastbound & Down” without any of the cleverness. The three kids are equally obnoxious and unfunny, and attempts to make them seem excessively mature, especially in comparison to their new father figure. It’s an unoriginal bore that just isn’t intriguing or compelling at all. There’s simply nothing that makes this show worth watching, and a whole number of elements that make it entirely despicable and off-putting.

How will it work as a series? Circumstances will have to be extreme on a regular basis in order to make Ron necessary in the children’s lives and to create obstacles for him to have to overcome in order to continue posing as their father. This first episode took things a bit far, sending a violent man with a bat after the children, so I imagine subsequent installments may follow suit in an effort to make this show continually relevant and lively.
How long will it last? I’m not the only one who didn’t like this show, and its placement in FOX’s animation block on Sunday nights probably won’t do it much good. FOX has debuted previous midseason comedies like “Free Ride” that have quickly been cancelled and forgotten, and though this one at least has Labine at the head, I imagine it will soon be dropped from the schedule and definitely won’t be around for the kids to move on to the next grade.

Pilot grade: F

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