Monday, January 24, 2011

Pilot Review: Retired at 35

Retired at 35 (TV Land)
Premiered January 19 at 10:30pm

This is the kind of show that people joke about making but don’t actually make. Its premiere was particularly ironically timed for me, as I ended up watching it on a flight back from Florida, where I had been down to visit my grandparents. Unlike our hapless protagonist David, however, I did not decide to drop everything and decide to make an untimely move down to the sunshine state. While I’m sure it’s happened that people have become so overwhelmed with their work and constant stresses that they’ve migrated down south at such a young age, it’s hardly a good basis for a television show. On TV Land following “Hot in Cleveland,” perhaps, but as a series in its own right, not at all. As a comedy, it’s hugely effective, providing all too many obvious setups for all the jokes, much like “Will & Grace” did in its later seasons. There’s nothing particularly funny on this show, and all over the characters are horrendously over-the-top. The laugh track drowns out all the action, and the actors seem to competing with it by trying to be just as loud. Lines like “are you on facial book?” fall flat because they seem thrown it just to get a cheap laugh rather than said in the midst of logical conversation. It’s rather humorous that George Segal and Jessica Walter have been advertised as the stars of the show when the main character seems to be their onscreen son David, yet that makes it quite apparent just how the target audience is for this show. Jonathan McClain, who plays David, is comparable to Jonathan Sadowski, who plays William Shatner’s son on “Shit My Dad Says.” In many ways, the character is just supposed to be a stand-in to help point just out how ridiculous his parents are, and both Sadowski’s Henry and McClain’s David are ridiculously underdeveloped. Unfortunately, Segal and Walter, no matter how talented they are and how magnificently they could pull off one-liners in their previous projects, can’t hope to match Shatner when it comes to crafting an entertaining parent. Almost instantly, “Retired at 35,” as expected, is irritating at best and nauseating at worst.

How will it work as a series? Ah! Here we have one show where the premise really is everything, and it could absolutely tank come episode two when the character realizes the permanence of the decision he’s made. What will likely ensue is a struggle to piece his life back together by becoming involved in the Florida community, and I’m sure that will be plenty hilarious (not).
How long will it last? Though I still argue that this show should never have been made, TV Land made a brilliant decision by pairing it with “Hot in Cleveland.” That decision is going to help attract many more viewers to both shows, and likely keep the two on the air far longer than anyone would agree they should be aired. I’m not sure if this one makes it to season two, but the pilot ratings were looking pretty good.

Pilot grade: F

No comments: