Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fox Mid-Season Pilot Review: Sons of Tucson - Premieres March 14

We will preempt our weekly blog DVD review for a special pilot review for Fox's upcoming sitcom Sons of Tucson, which launches tomorrow night. See if it is worth watching or not by reading our review by skees53:

Sons of Tucson

Sons of Tucson - Sundays 9:30PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 9:30PM ET/PT

What do you get when three out-of-control kids have a father who suddenly ends up in prison and the kids want to do everything possible to avoid living with a crazy cat lady under foster care? You get Sons of Tucson, Fox's latest sitcom about an unsuspecting sporting goods store employee who is down on his luck in life, getting the opportunity to suddenly become a father.

Ron Snuffkin (Tyler Labine) is just out of a relationship gone wrong and trying to make it in Tucson, living in his Ford Taurus station wagon and working at a sporting goods store. Life isn’t going all that great, but it is all about to change.

Enter the Gunderson kids: Gary (Frank Dolce), Brandon (Matthew Levy), and Robby (Benjamin Stockham). They come from a well-off family, but the only problem is that their mother left home some time ago and their father is off to prison for 25 years--or until he can escape. Seeing Ron as the perfect patsy, they recruit him to play the role of father for a while, and that role keeps taking on more and more responsibilities in this series.

Cast Details:

* Tyler Labine as Ron Snuffkin
* Frank Dolce as Gary Gunderson
* Matthew Levy as Brandon Gunderson
* Benjamin Stockham as Robby Gunderson

Tyler Labine (Ron) is a Canadian-born actor best known from his role as Bert 'Sock' Wysocki in the series Reaper. He also has television credits from smaller roles in the series Invasion and Boston Legal, as well as several other series.

The remainder of the cast is even less familiar to viewers than Labine. Frank Dolce (Gary) appeared in the original Broadway production of Billy Elliot as Michael. Matthew Levy (Brandon) also has extensive experience on the stage in productions such as MacBeth, The Full Monty, A Christmas Story, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Benjamin Stockham (Robby) appeared in the film Quarantine and also had a single appearance on the series Criminal Minds.

Plot:

For the review, we saw the first and second episode of the series. The series is scheduled to air 13 episodes and will run into the summer (ratings pending).

In the pilot episode (airing March 14 at 9:30pm), the Gunderson kids, having just been orphaned by their father who was sent to prison, find the perfect person to play the role of their father until he is released (or escapes): Ron Snuffkin, an employee at the sporting goods store. Ron accepts this role without any hesitation at all and now has to take on all of the roles of father, beginning with enrolling the kids in school, introduce his new family to his old family, and trying to keep a tight lid on these out-of control kids. Meanwhile, the kids have to help him try to avoid a thug who just wants his money.

In the second episode, "The Break In," (airing March 21 at 9:30pm) there is a series of burglaries in the neighborhood and Ron sees this as a perfect opportunity to exploit the kids. Since they are making him live in the shed, he decides to stage a burglary in the home where he can come in to "save" the kids... and hopefully convince them to allow him to move in to the house.

Analysis:

The series is a single-camera sitcom with no laugh track at all, which is a common characteristic of most sitcoms these days. It might be a good thing that there is no laugh track, as there really isn't anything funny about the series.

The entire premise of this series makes no sense, at all. The only part that makes any sense at all is three boys having a father go to prison, but beyond that, nothing about the series is even remotely realistic or even of any artistic value to embellish. The series fails to explain why the kids are not in foster care (where they would be in the real world), why they randomly picked this one guy to be his dad, why he would even agree to it after a brief 30-second discussion.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the series isn't even funny. In watching both of the first two episodes, I didn't laugh even one time, and at best only found a few small moments even mildly amusing. Even in the worst sitcoms that I've ever seen, I have found a few moments where I couldn't help but to laugh, but that wasn't the case in this series.

One slightly redeeming factor, though, is the actors who play the kids on the series. Despite their lack of television experience, I thought that they did well in their roles, but at the same time, their acting style is not quite the style that works on a sitcom. They would be perfect for a family drama, but are out of place on a sitcom, especially a sitcom of this style.

Conclusion:

So, let's take bets on how long this show will last. Fox has committed to 13 episodes. I couldn't imagine all 13 of them actually airing. This is an awful show that has been placed in a timeslot that it just can't win. It doesn't fit in at all on the Sunday night lineup and is going to have a detrimental effect on the ratings of the other Sunday night programs. So not only do we have an awful show, but we also have an awful show that is going to weaken the rest of the lineup (which could be much stronger if they'd keep it more stable), even if it is at the end of the night in the lineup. I can see the series lasting for maybe a month, although you never quite know what Fox will do.

Fox has to come up with something good in the live-action/half-hour sitcom segment, but this series is not it, at all. A plot full of holes and missing explanations and not a funny moment to be found is a recipe for disaster. The sun will set on Tucson before you know it.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 2/5
Funniness: 1/5
Overall: 1.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 03/13/10

Discuss the show after you watch it on Sunday, March 14 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Sons of Tucson Photo Gallery

  • Preview:


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    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 27)

    Monday, February 27

    • Keri Russell (Running Wilde) - Watch Keri on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
    • Connie Britton (Spin City/The Fighting Fitzgeralds/Lost at Home) - Connie appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
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    • Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) - Adam drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Josh Henderson (One on One) - Josh appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. He also talks about The Arrangement on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
    • David Hyde Pierce (Frasier) - David chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • Leighton Meester (Making History) - Leighton stops by Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly visits Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • John Lithgow (Trial & Error/Twenty Good Years/3rd Rock from the Sun) - John talks about Trial & Error on NBC's Today in the 9am hour and on the AOL Build Show at 1:30pm.
    • Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly) - Billy dishes on how This is Us is following in Mike & Molly’s footsteps – and why both shows are so beloved on People Now at 8:30am.
    • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) and Craig Robinson (The Office) - Lisa and Craig talk about their new film Table 19 on the AOL Build Show at 2:30pm.
    • Sinbad (A Different World/The Sinbad Show) - Sinbad is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
    • Bradley Whitford (Trophy Wife) - Bradley visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Craig Robinson (The Office/Mr. Robinson) - Craig appears on The Real, so check your local listings.