Tuesday, March 01, 2016

ABC Mid-Season Pilot Review: The Real O'Neals - Premieres Wednesday (March 2); Disney Channel Brings Back Two Sitcoms

The Real O'Neals

The Real O'Neals - Tuesdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Special Premiere Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at 8:30PM & 9:30PM ET/PT, then Tuesday, March 8 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

The Real O'Neals is a new family comedy about a seemingly perfect family's life which takes an unexpected turn when surprising truths are revealed. Instead of ruining their family, the honesty triggers a new, messier chapter where everyone stops pretending to be perfect and actually starts being real.

Cast Details:

Martha Plimpton as Eileen O'Neal
Jay R. Ferguson as Pat O'Neal
Noah Galvin as Kenny O'Neal
Matt Shivley as Jimmy O'Neal
Bebe Wood as Shannon O'Neal
Mary Hollis Inboden as Jodi O'Neal

Martha Plimpton (Eileen) is an acclaimed actress known for her roles in films such as The Goonies and The River Rat, television shows such as Raising Hope and The Good Wife, and stage plays such as A Midsummer Night's Dream and Pal Joey.

Jay R. Ferguson (Pat) is best known for his role as Stan Rizzo on the critically acclaimed television drama Mad Men. He has also appeared on shows such as Weeds, Castle, Medium, and Burn Notice.

Noah Galvin (Kenny) is a young actor who has appeared previously in the short film Promised Land and the TV show Futurestates. The Real O'Neals will be his first starring role.

Matt Shively (Jimmy) is known for his role as Ryan Laserbeam on the children's comedy series True Jackson V.P. He has also appeared in shows such as Teen Wolf, CSI and The Troop, and in films such as Expelled and Paranormal Activity 4.

Bebe Wood (Shannon) is a young actress previously known for her work on the short-lived comedy The New Normal.

Mary Hollis Inboden (Jodi) is an actress known for her roles on shows such as The Chicago Code, Boss, and Funemployed.

Pilot Plot:

We have watched the first three episodes for review.

"Pilot" (Airs Wednesday, March 2 at 8:30PM ET)

Jonah begins his first day on the job at big-box store Cloud 9 and immediately starts a rocky relationship with floor supervisor Amy when he comes off as elitist and mistakenly marks appliances for only a quarter. He is also the romantic target of aggressive assistant manager Dina whose bible is the employee code of conduct. Pregnant Cheyenne shares a memorable moment with her boyfriend, Bo.

"The Real Papaya" (Airs Wednesday, March 2 at 9:30PM ET)

Following the "coming out" confessions made by everyone in the O'Neal family, Eileen is desperate to control the situation and tries to make Kenny "un-gay." Meanwhile, Kenny tries to find the right time to break up with Mimi and has a heart-to-heart with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.

"The Real Lent" (Airs Tuesday, March 8 at 8:30PM ET)

Eileen reminds her family that it's Lent and asks them to give up things they really love, which in turn proves to be quite a daunting task. In a chance meeting, Kenny meets his first gay crush, and Pat discovers his little girl, Shannon, is all grown up.

Analysis:

Over the past six years, ABC has slowly but surely built up the strongest comedy brand on network television. At this point, they've hit that sweet spot where whenever you watch an ABC comedy, you basically know what you're going to get: at minimum, it'll be a well-made, if unremarkable, family comedy with strong characters and fairly sharp writing. Some shows go on to be much more than that (such as the excellent black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat, or the still great after seven years The Middle), whereas some shows fall short (like the misguided Muppets reboot) but, in general, there's a solid baseline for these kinds of shows, and The Real O'Neals sits comfortably on that baseline. It's far from ABC's strongest comedy, as it lacks the crackling wit and diverse viewpoints of shows like black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat, nor does it have the painfully curated realism and genuinely unique characters of The Middle. But it's a solid enough show with some strong performances and an interesting concept that could become interesting if the show figures out how to utilize it a little better. It's not a show to go out of your way to record on the DVR or catch up with on Hulu, but it's also a show that you don't have to change the channel for in between The Goldbergs and Modern Family this Wednesday, or after Fresh Off the Boat next Tuesday. It is, in essence, the perfect bottom-of-the-hour show.

Of course, we're living in age of "peak TV." Fewer and fewer people are watching live television, and while "good enough to not change the channel" might've been enough to keep a show alive ten years ago, a show in 2016 has to stand out in some way to get noticed. The question that remains, then, is could The Real O'Neals eventually become a show that stands out in a way that elevates it above "an okay way to spend a half-hour?" Considering how many shows go on to become great following incredibly shaky starts suggest that nothings can be ruled out, especially considering the first three episodes of The Real O'Neals aren't even all that shaky, just a little bland and nothing particularly special. There are promising elements at work here, too: this is the most upfront I've ever seen a primetime family sitcom be about LGBT themes this early on, and it gets a lot of bonus points for not treating Kenny's sexuality as a shameful secret or a source of laughs like many shows would. There's also an interesting, honest discussion about religion that you wouldn't necessarily expect on a primetime family sitcom like this one. (On the other hand, the show's strange plotline about Jimmy's 'manorexia' is far less successful, borders on offensive and sticks out like a sore thumb considering how well it deals with other sensitive subjects.) And yet, the show never really finds a comic momentum – its humor whiplashes from subtle to over-the-top cartoon (a sequence featuring Jimmy Kimmel as Kenny's conscious falls completely flat because it's just too much) with seemingly no in between. I didn't laugh once during the three episodes that I watched, and I barely smiled, even as I mostly appreciated what the show was trying to do. The Real O'Neals has the framework of a great show, but it's going to need to work out some major kinks to rise above "passable."

Conclusion:

The Real O'Neals is a decent show with aspirations to be a great that, at this point in time, it doesn't quite live up to. It's well-made, charming, has a likable cast and an intriguing premise, but it needs to work on extending that premise beyond its most basic and shallow beginnings. The first three episodes are far from bad, and you likely won't regret having watched them, but they also don't do much to make the show feel essential. The show does have a deft handle on some very challenging topics such as religious and sexuality that suggest, with time and care, it could become another strong ABC sitcom that redefines the family sitcom structure. That's clearly where the show wants to go, but it's not there yet. If getting there is its goal, it needs to get a lot funnier and it needs to find out who its characters are underneath the stereotypes.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 2.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at 8:30PM & 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • The Real O'Neals Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • Bunk'd Best Friends Whenever

    Disney Channel has picked up second seasons of hit freshman sitcoms Bunk'd and Best Friends Whenever to air later this season. Both sitcoms are still in the middle of their first season orders. Bunk'd airs Fridays at 8pm ET/PT and Best Friends Whenever airs Sundays at 8:30pm ET/PT on Disney Channel. Bunk'd, a spin-off of the hit Disney sitcom Jessie, follows siblings Emma, Ravi, and Zuri Ross on their adventures at Camp Kikiwaka, a camp in Maine where their parents met as teenagers. The series stars Peyton List as Emma, Karan Brar as Ravi, Skai Jackson as Zuri, Miranda May as Lou, Kevin Quinn as Xander and Nina Lu as Tiffany and Nathan Arenas as Jorge. Best Friends Whenever follows teen best friends Shelby and Cyd, who unwittingly gain the power to leap forward and backward in time whenever they want – and sometimes when they don't. The series stars Lauren Taylor as Shelby, Landry Bender as Cyd, Gus Kamp as Barry, Ricky Garcia as Naldo and identical twins Benjamin Cole and Matthew Lewis Royer as Bret and Chet. Disney Channel is wrapping up the 30-episode second season of Girl Meets World this month, but has ordered a third season, as we reported.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

    Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

    06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
    06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
    06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
    06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
    06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
    07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
    07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
    07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
    07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
    08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
    08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
    08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
    08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
    08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Wednesday, August 23

    The Goldbergs - "O Captain! My Captain!" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Beverly substitutes for Barry’s chemistry class in hopes to inspire students in the same way as Mr. Keating from “Dead Poets Society,” much to Barry’s embarrassment. When Beverly refuses to give Barry special treatment, Murray pushes Barry to work hard and prove to her that he can get a good grade.

    Speechless - "C-H-- CHEATER!" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Maya and Kenneth work together to hold JJ accountable for his academic future when he cheats on an exam at school. Meanwhile, Ray gets into a get-rich scheme; but when Jimmy bails him out and teaches him an important lesson, Ray’s motivation to make fast money is revealed.

    Modern Family - "Pig Moon Rising" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    During a quick workout session in the garage, Mitchell accidentally knocks over an urn filled with the ashes of Cam’s beloved pet pig Lilly. He quickly attempts to cover up his blunder and devises an appropriate cover-up. Hoping to catch Mitchell in his lie, Cam makes up a tall tale to trap him, but his own lie soon becomes a little too big to manage.

    American Housewife - "The Otto Motto" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Taylor keeps quitting school activities, Greg says that Katie, quite the quitter herself, sets a poor example. He challenges her to finally learn French after quitting lessons so long ago, so she reluctantly enrolls in a college class.

    Modern Family - "Do It Yourself" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Feeling empowered after his successful do-it-yourself project, Phil convinces Jay to co-invest in a property he has always wanted to develop. Meanwhile, Claire’s new obsession with a TV chef and her new love of cooking Sunday dinners hasn’t been as tasty as she thinks. Haley is the family’s only hope to add a little spice to the situation. At the Pritchett-Tucker house, Cam and Mitchell see that the family is too reliant on technology, so they attempt to teach Lily the importance of hard work, which ends disastrously. Back at the Pritchett’s, Jay feels replaced when he sees Gloria has hired Coach Gary (Payton Manning) to coach Joe and serve as a handy man.

    The Goldbergs - "Recipe for Death II: Kiss the Cook" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    After learning of Murray’s love of action movies, Adam uses the moment to garner the courage to ask his dad for money to film his own action film. But the production goes from bad to worse when Barry goes missing for playing the lead, and an unlikely replacement steps in. Meanwhile, Erica takes Beverly to go clothes shopping. When a situation at the hip store goes awry, Erica decides to make her own version of the popular outfit she wants –using Beverly’s own sweaters.

    Marlon - "Boys Only Want One Thing" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Marlon (Marlon Wayans) struggles to come to terms with his daughter bringing home a boy for the first time. Yvette (Bresha Webb) uses Stevie (Diallo Riddle) to get great seats to a Beyoncé concert.

    Marlon - "Exes With Benefits" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Marlon (Marlon Wayans) and Ashley (Essence Atkins) contemplate whether to have no strings attached 'ex-sex.'

    Swedish Dicks - (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Porn actress Taylor Slow asks the guys to find her stalker; Sarah asks her father to check out her new boyfriend, Steve; Ingmar is sure he'll find some dirt on Steve; Axel infiltrates Jane McKinney's agency.

    Younger - "The Incident at Pound Ridge" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Sparks fly at the annual Empirical Publishing picnic. Liza finds herself caught between Josh and Charles.

    Odd Mom Out - "Weber M.D." (Bravo, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    By day, Jill shoots Brooke's new line of Von Weber wares, and by night, she and Vanessa investigate a rash of infections plaguing the Upper ``Yeast'' Side; Candace seeks answers for why she keeps getting called ``Candy Ass.''

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 21)

    Wednesday, August 23

    • David Alan Grier (The Carmichael Show/Bad Teacher/Life with Bonnie/DAG) - Watch David on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Gillian Jacobs (Love/Community) - Gillian appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) - Kelly is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Fred Savage (The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Fred appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Kathryn Hahn (I Love Dick/Happyish/Transparent) - Kathryn is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Kathy Bates (Disjointed) - Kathy stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Jessica Capshaw (Odd Man Out) - Jessica guest co-hosts a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Anna Chlumsky (Veep) - Anna appears on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Nicole Ari Parker (Second Time Around) - Nicole is a guest on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Marlon Wayans (Marlon/The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon discusses his new NBC show Marlon on People Now at 8:30am.
    • John Lithgow (Trial & Error/Twenty Goods Years/3rd Rock from the Sun) - John joins Clinton to create a classic carnival treat in the kitchen on a repeat of ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
    • Fran Drescher (Happily Divorced/Living with Fran/The Nanny) - Fran talks about reducing your cancer risk and see her own anti-cancer regimen on a repeat of The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
    • Tamera Mowry (Sister, Sister/Roommates) - Tamera is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • James Van Der Beek (What Would Diplo Do?/Friends with Better Lives/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - James appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
    • Josh Henderson (One on One) - Josh is a guest on a repet of Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.