Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pilot Review: The Neighbors

The Neighbors (ABC)
Premiered September 26 at 9:30pm

I’m not sure there was ever much potential for this show. A cartoonish comedy about a neighborhood full of aliens doesn’t exactly jive with the rest of ABC’s comedy lineup, which includes a modern family, a biting take on suburbia, and other edgy, hip series. This show sticks out just like its featured human family, opting for bouncy, broad physical humor instead and jokes about sports stars’ names instead of actual intelligent comedy. Lenny Venito, most recognizable from “The Knights of Prosperity” and “The Sopranos,” is thrust into the lead role, portraying a stable yet sometimes uncertain patriarch rivaled by his wife, played by Jami Gertz from “Still Standing.” Neither is extraordinarily capable, and they’re joined by two non-American actors, Simon Templeman and Toks Olagundoye, who are hardly familiar to American television audiences. Without a coherent star or comedian front and center, all that’s left is the show’s tone, which plays to the lowest common denominator, assuming little brainpower on the part of its audience. It’s problematic mainly because of other alien-centric sitcoms like “3rd Rock from the Sun” that in the past demonstrated a clearer capacity for transforming a premise into something clever, whereas this shoots about as unenthusiastically as possible. One could argue that it’s another great show for the whole family to watch together, but neither child nor parent is going to be laughing much at this stale, extremely familiar and unwelcome humor. Shortly and punnily put, no one is going to want the characters on this show as their neighbors.

How will it work as a series? So much has already happened in episode one, with Lennox nearly transporting himself to the future for the sake of his people and Jackie kicking Wilt out of the house for demeaning the validity of her opinions. Now, the aliens and the humans are going to have to continue to adjust to one another, which is sure to make for at least a few tired tropes every episode.
How long will it last? Based on the negative reviews and improbability of its quality, you wouldn’t think long, but the pilot numbers were actually quite presentable, thanks in part to the fact that it airs immediately after “Modern Family.” While I wouldn’t expect that success to continue, it may inspire ABC to stick with it throughout its first season.

Pilot grade: F

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just caught the premiere on my DVR, and I didn’t think it was too bad. If anything, it’s a changeup from my usual genre watching of action dramas. I stumbled across the show on my Hopper, because it auto-records the PrimeTime Anytime. It seems like a cool feature to help with people that forget to set timers or want to discover new shows—I’m in both of these categories. A friend that I work with at DISH thought that the pro-athlete concept makes for some laughs. If they sneak in a Joe Montana, I’ll be a loyal fan until the end.