Monday, March 14, 2016

NBC Mid-Season Pilot Review: Crowded - Premieres Tuesday (March 15); The CW Renews 11 Series for 2016-17

Crowded

Crowded - Sundays at 9:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Special Premiere Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 10:00PM & 10:30PM ET/PT, then Sunday, March 20 at 9:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

Crowded is a timely comedy that proves life is crazy with a full house, especially the second time around. After 20 years of parenting, empty nesters Mike and Martina are finally reclaiming their wild side. But when both of their two grown unexpectedly move back in and Mike's parents scratch their plans to spend their golden years in Florida, their roost is full again.

Cast Details:

Miranda Cosgrove as Shea Moore
Carrie Preston as Martina Moore
Stacy Keach as Bob Moore
Carlease Burke as Alice Moore
Mia Serafino as Stella Moore
Patrick Warburton as Mike Moore

Miranda Cosgrove (Shea) is an actress and singer best known for her work in Nickelodeon sitcoms Drake & Josh and iCarly. She has also appeared on Smallville, Grounded for Life, and The Good Wife, and the hit comedy film School of Rock.

Carrie Preston (Martina) is an actress known for her roles on the hit shows True Blood and Person of Interest, opposite husband Michael Emerson. She has also appeared on Getting On, The Good Wife, The Following, and Royal Pains.

Stacy Keach (Bob) is a comic actor known for his role on the popular SiriusXM radio show The Opie and Anthony Show. He also has a long and distinguished career in television and film, including roles in shows such as Titus, ER, Prison Break, and 30 Rock.

Carlease Burke (Alice) is an actress known for her roles in shows such as Key & Peele, Dads, NCIS, and Switched at Birth.

Mia Serafino (Stella) is an actress who has appeared on shows such as Shameless, NCIS: Los Angeles, Undateable, and Scorpion.

Patrick Warburton (Mike) is known for his role as David Puddy on Seinfeld, and other sitcoms like The Tick, Rules of Engagement, NewsRadio and Less than Perfect. He has also done extensive voice work on animated shows such as Family Guy, Archer, and The Venture Brothers.

Pilot Plot:

We have watched the first two episodes for review and also another episode airing later in the season.

"Pilot" (Airs Tuesday, March 15 at 10:00PM ET)

Like millions of millennials, Mike and Martina's two daughters back home after college and they all have to deal with the new reality.

"Present Tense" (Airs Tuesday, March 15 at 10:30PM ET)

Mike and Martina haven't had sex since the girls moved back in and they're not sure why. Each tries to spice things up in their own way. Meanwhile, Stella coaches Shea on how to snag boys with a dating app.

"Daughter" (tentatively Airs Sunday, May 8 at 9:30PM ET)

TBD

Analysis:

It's no secret that, creatively speaking, the multi-camera sitcom has fallen upon some hard times. For much of the 2000s and early 2010s, the format was marred by lazy writing, an over-reliance on clichés, and a warmed over feeling that paled in comparison to the creatively exciting single-cams dominating the airwaves at the time. But over the past few years, the multi-cam sitcom has been experiencing a quiet quality renaissance. The Carmichael Show (Crowded's timeslot companion) has used the format to throwback to its golden age, focusing on strong characters and a deft understanding of political issues not unlike classic Norman Lear sitcoms. And Mom on CBS has shed its initial Two and a Half Men-esque vibe and become a surprisingly strong character study of what it's like to live in a world when you're recovering from an addiction. With these shows, it seems reasonable to ask: could there be a renaissance of respect for the old multi-camera sitcom? Unfortunately, Crowded, despite a promising cast, is a multi-cam that doesn't seem interested in that renaissance. As a mostly generic bore that relies on tired clichés and obvious punchlines for its humor, it's an unwelcome reminder of how the multi-camera sitcom has fallen so hard from grace over the past 15 years. Crowded's entire premise basically comes down to "millennials are living with their parents because they're lazy and their parents babied them," which is a narrative that has been trite and outdated pretty much from the moment it began circulating. Of course, a show can overcome a bad premise if the writing and characters are strong enough to hold up the fort – all you need to do is look at a show like Cougar Town or New Girl to see how a questionable premise can turn into a great show if all of the other elements are there.

But Crowded's characters never manage to feel like anything more than archetypes. The girls, despite valiant efforts by Cosgrove and Serafino, have exactly one joke to their personas and, in the three episodes I watched, never manage to gain any other traits that make them feel like actual human beings rather than just ideas. The parents fare a little better, but they're still not much more than exactly what you would expect a married couple on this kind of show to be – did you guess that the mother is the rock of the family who struggles to keep it together? You're right! Did you guess that the father tries to bury his emotions and just wants to act manly and have sex with his wife? You got it again! It doesn't speak much to the show when a guest character played by Betty White is the only character I ever had any desire to learn more about. (White is basically playing the stereotypical 'grandma who says things a grandma shouldn't' role she's been playing non-stop for the past ten years, but she plays it well, and she actually gets a little more shading in her one episode than any of the main cast got in three.) If the show has one thing going for it, it's that by the third episode I watched, there were some actual strong punchlines that got some chuckles out of me. Unfortunately, an occasional funny line is not really enough to save a show that's otherwise a generic disaster all-around. I don't see much hope in Crowded, which is a shame because the cast is strong and the joke writing isn't even so bad. But it's going to take a lot of work to get this to be anything more than another multi-camera sitcom that totally misses the mark.

Conclusion:

Crowded is a trite, boring sitcom that feels mass-produced from the same soulless entity that has given us so many painfully bad multi-camera sitcoms over the past 15 years. The format has proven recently that it has some life left in it, demonstrated by the show that airs just a half-hour before this one on the same network. But Crowded, with its lazy premise, paper-thin characters and inconsistent writing, is more of a sign of what the format is trying to leave behind than where it's (hopefully) headed. It would be nice if Crowded could figure itself out, because the jokes are sometimes there and it's got an all-around solid cast, but given how painfully it started out, I don't hold out a lot of hope that it'll get better.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 2/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 2/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 10:00PM & 10:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Crowded Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • The CW

    The CW has picked up and renewed many of the current batch of programming. Returning in 2016-17 are: Arrow, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, iZombie, Jane The Virgin, The Originals, Reign, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and The 100. They will continue their strategy of more proven original series year-round, including Fall 2016, midseason 2017 and summer 2017. Specific premiere dates for each series will be announced at a later time. The CW still hasn't given a status on last summer's comedy Significant Mother starring Krista Allen. New series Containment will premiere April 19 and the final season of Beauty & the Beast starts June 2.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (March/April)

    The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five

    03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
    03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
    03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
    03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
    03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
    03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
    03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
    03/14 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
    03/21 - Master of None - Season One
    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
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Tuesday, April 25

    The Middle - "Trip and Fall" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
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    American Housewife - "The Otto Motto" (ABC, 8:30PM 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.

    Speechless - "S-I-- SICK D-A-- DAY" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Maya gets sick, Jimmy is forced to be the mom of the house, and Dylan becomes Kenneth’s replacement for JJ when Kenneth also gets sick. Jimmy ends up doing well with Maya’s normal duties, but he tries to keep it from her to avoid her feeling bad. Meanwhile, JJ protects Dylan from a boy she’s interested in. And despite its illness, the family bands together and pulls an all-nighter to finish Ray’s school project.

    Imaginary Mary - "In a World Where Worlds Collide" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Alice freaks out when her friends want to meet Ben. But when an outing with everyone goes surprisingly well, Alice wants to meet Ben’s friends. However, Ben is hesitant but devises a plan that will impress Alice; but later, he makes a surprising admission.

    Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Last Ride" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
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    The Mick - "The Implant" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Sabrina tells Mickey she wants to augment her figure, so Mickey decides the best way to dissuade her from doing so is to do a test-run in public. Meanwhile, Jimmy takes Chip and Ben to a baseball game to teach them how to be more masculine.

    Great News - "Pilot" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
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    Great News - "Bear Attack" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Katie (Briga Heelan) tries to set workplace boundaries with Carol (Andrea Martin), but when a big story about an escaped bear lands in her lap, her mom can't help but meddle. Meanwhile, Greg (Adam Campbell) tries to get Chuck (John Michael Higgins) and Portia (Nicole Richie) to do a little friendly banter at the end of the show.

    The Detour - "The Mule" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Robin and Nate live out their action movie fantasies as they make their way to the kids, who are actually doing fine without them.

    The Detour - "The Ass" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
    The family reunites, but this time Robin makes a huge mistake.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 24)

    Tuesday, April 25

    • Amanda Peet (Brockmire/Togetherness/Bent) - Catch Amanda on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. She also appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Patton Oswalt (The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Patton stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
    • Kal Penn (We Are Men/How I Met Your Mother) - Kal is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Sanaa stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Reid Scott (Veep/My Boys) - Reid visits Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Arden Myrin (Working) - Arden appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
    • Hank Azaria (Brockmire/The Simpsons/Free Agents) - Hank is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Andrea Martin (Difficult People/Working the Engels) - Andrea visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • John Leguizamo (The Brothers Garcia) - John guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • Patti LaBelle (Out All Night) - Patti will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
    • Andrea Martin (Great News/Difficult People/Working the Engels) - Andrea talks about Good News on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 10am hour.
    • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Jason Jones (The Detour) - Jason talks about The Detour on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Ross Lynch (Austin & Ally) - Ross opens up about his new movie My Friend Dahmer on People Now at 8:30am.
    • Tim Daly (Wings) - Tim is a guest on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
    • Peter Engel (Producer of Saved by the Bell/California Dreams/Hang Time) - Peter dishes about his new memoir I Was Saved by the Bell on the The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.
    • Sherri Shepherd (Trial & Error/Less Than Perfect/Sherri) - Sherri is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Danny DeVito (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia/Taxi) - Danny appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.