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 (April/May)

    Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season ALF - The Complete DVD Collection The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series

    04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
    04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
    04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
    04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
    04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
    05/02 - Red, White and Blue Collar Sitcoms - Make TV Great Again
    05/09 - ALF - The Complete DVD Collection
    05/09 - Divorce - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
    05/09 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season
    05/16 - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Thursday, May 25

    The Goldbergs - "Agassi" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Adam feels like he’s losing his best friend, Chad, so he attempts to join the tennis team.  When Chad picks Dave Kim as his partner, Adam vows to take him down with Barry in a tennis match, channeling Andre Agassi.  Meanwhile, with the help of Beverly, Erica deals with her post-break up depression just in time for Valentine’s Day.

    American Housewife - "The Club" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Anna-Kat develops a fear of water and stops bathing, her therapist suggests the Ottos get her to go swimming. But can Katie get over own her fear of wearing a bathing suit in public at the Westport Country Club so she can help her kid out? Meanwhile Oliver gives his dad a style makeover after students at the college give Greg a low “jalapeƱo” score.

    Modern Family - "Do It Yourself" (ABC, 9:00PM 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.

    Modern Family - "Heavy Is the Head" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Despite their lofty hopes, Phil and Jay’s property investment might turn out to be a bust, forcing Phil to rethink his original dream. Meanwhile, Cam lands in the hospital due to a head injury and refuses to have an MRI thanks to a traumatic incident with a well when he was a child. Determined to finally impress Claire and keep her from re-gifting her birthday present, Gloria surprises her with a day of luxury at the office. However, after Claire had to implement some rather harsh budget cuts at work, a massage at her desk may not be sending the right message.

    black-ish - "Auntsgiving" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Pops’ older sister Almaviligerais unexpectedly arrives for Thanksgiving, much to everyone’s delight except Ruby, who can’t stand her ex-sister-in-law. While Bow and Dre go on their last vacation before the baby arrives, the kids try to figure out why Ruby hates Almaviligerais so much.

    Speechless - "D-I-- DING" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    After leaving a note behind Maya’s back, Ray takes sides against the family when Maya dings a nearby car.  Following through on a promise, Jimmy and Dylan share a moment, as father and daughter are on a search in the back room at the local supermarket while JJ teaches a rude customer a lesson, and a moonlighting Kenneth hides his side job from the DiMeos.

    The Big Bang Theory - "The Emotion Detection Automation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Sheldon beta-tests an MIT invention after hearing it can help him read people’s emotions. Also, Leonard can’t hide his feelings when Penny announces her brother is coming to town, and Raj invites his ex-girlfriends over to give him dating advice. Laura Spencer, Katie Micucci, Alessandra Torresani and Katie Leclerc return as Raj’s ex-girlfriends.

    Superior Donuts - "What's the Big Idea?" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Franco’s creative new donut flavors become bestsellers, Arthur tries to prove he’s still relevant by coming up with a unique one of his own. Also, Fawz works to dream up an inventive password in order to keep Maya and James from stealing his store’s WiFi.

    Mom - "Sword Fights and a Dominican Shortstop" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Christy considers giving up her dream of becoming a lawyer when Bonnie’s ex-girlfriend, Jeanine (Rosie O’Donnell), offers her a lucrative job in real estate. Also, Adam is very curious about Bonnie’s past with women.

    Life in Pieces - "Eyebrow Anonymous Trapped Gem" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Tim accidentally shaves off a huge chunk of eyebrow before an important photoshoot, he hopes Jen and Colleen’s grooming expertise can fix it. Also, when Gigi passes away, Greg makes an anonymous donation with the money she left him, but later realizes he wants to be recognized for it; John learns firsthand what Gigi’s life was like at the nursing home; and Joan honors her mother’s memory with unusual jewelry.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 22)

    Thursday, May 25

    • Jada Pinkett-Smith (A Different World) - Catch Jada on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He will also be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Laurie Metcalf (The Big Bang Theory/The McCartyhs/Roseanne) - Laurie stops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) - Bryan appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Zach Woods (Silicon Valley/The Office) - Zach visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Wanda Sykes (The New Adventures of Old Christine/Wanda Large) - Wanda appears on a repeat of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
    • Whitney Cummings (whitney) - Whitney is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
    • The Cast of Veep - Julia Louis Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Anna Chlumsky, Reid Scott, Matt Walsh, Timothy Simons, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole and Sam Richardson are guests on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • Sherri Shepherd (Trial & Error/Sherri/Less Than Perfect) - Sherri appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Tiffani Thiessen (Saved by the Bell/Saved by the Bell: The College Years) - Tiffani kicks off summer with recipes that are included in People's Summer Grilling special issue on People Now at 8:30am.