Fall TV Reviews: 'Super Fun Night,' 'Ironside,' 'The Millers,' 'Welcome to the Family' & 'Sean Saves the World'
Not that this has been a great overall fall for new series, but pretty much every rookie of note — from the genuinely good ("Masters of Sex") to the uneven but promising ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD") to the mediocre shows that do one thing very well ("The Blacklist") — have already debuted over the last couple of weeks. What's left over for this week are the runts of this unimpressive litter, none worthy of a full-length review, but which we can discuss briefly before they debut:
"Super Fun Night" (Tonight at 9:30 on ABC): Rebel Wilson from "Pitch Perfect" and "Bridesmaids" plays shy lawyer Kimmy Boubier (it's frequently mispronounced "boob-eer," because of course it is), trying to navigate her way at work after a promotion, and trying to get equally dorky best friends Liza Lapira and Lauren Ash to follow her out into the real world more often. It's an enormous mess, one that was in development at one network, then dropped, then redeveloped at ABC with a pilot that was good enough to secure a pick-up, but not good enough to actually air (the episode you'll see tonight is the second one), with Wilson struggling with an American accent (that, by all accounts, was her choice to do, even though she's obviously concentrating too much on the voice to be funny) and frequently appearing in her underwear because plus-sized women in Spanx are inherently funny. This is a vehicle for Wilson, by Wilson, and it doesn't serve her well in the slightest.
"Ironside" (Tonight at 10 on NBC): Blair Underwood stars in a remake of the Raymond Burr '70s drama about a wheelchair-bound cop, though it ultimately has less in common with the Burr show than with "House." This Ironside is a hunk (the bullet wound that took the use of his legs left him functional in other areas) and an iconoclast with his own special headquarters and team of detectives who get to play by their own rules and give heartburn to the traditional NYPD command. Despite a committed, angry performance from Underwood, and a very good one from Brent Sexton as Ironside's grief-stricken ex-partner, a lot of the show plays like a parody of hard-boiled cop show cliches.
"The Millers" (Thursday at 8:30 on CBS): So much talent assembled in one place in the service of so little. The creator is Greg Garcia, whose last two shows were "Raising Hope" and "My Name Is Earl." The stars include Will Arnett, Emmy winner Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" scene-stealer J.B. Smoove. And the end result — with Martindale and Bridges as Arnett's bickering parents — is 22 shrill minutes of yelling, fart jokes, masturbation jokes, more yelling, more fart jokes, and Arnett and Martindale mostly re-enacting the climactic number from "Dirty Dancing." I know Martindale will make much more coin from this than if she had stayed in her recurring role on "The Americans," but the whole project (in pilot form, anyway) feels like a waste of everyone's time and ability.
"Welcome to the Family" (Thursday at 8:30, NBC): Mike O'Malley (alum of another Garcia show, "Yes Dear" but better known these days for playing Burt on "Glee") and Ricardo Chavira (Carlos from "Desperate Housewives") play two combative Los Angeles men who are horrified to discover that Chavira's valedictorian son has impregnated O'Malley's underachieving daughter. At times, this feels like the edgiest comedy of 1970, and at others it's just trying to figure out what exactly to do with appealing performers like O'Malley, Chavira, Mary McCormack and Justina Machado. The end result is inoffensive and mostly forgettable.
"Sean Saves the World" (Thursday at 9, NBC): Sean Hayes, even louder than you remember him from his days as Jack on "Will & Grace," plays a gay man adjusting to life as a single dad when the teenage daughter from his short-lived marriage moves in with him. Hayes and Linda Lavin (as Sean's intrusive mother) are both playing to the cheap seats in the studio where this show is taped, and you can see how it could be a fun experience for the people in the room even as it's oppressive to watch from the distance of your television. Tom Lennon (Lt. Dangle from "Reno 911") interjects what weird energy he can as Sean's new boss (in a role evocative of the Portia de Rossi character on creator Victor Fresco's infinitely funnier "Better Off Ted"), but there's only so much he can lift the proceedings around him.
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org