Monday, March 14, 2016
NBC Mid-Season Pilot Review: Crowded - Premieres Tuesday (March 15); The CW Renews 11 Series for 2016-17
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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):
Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 10:00PM & 10:30PM ET/PT on our message board.
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 (September)
09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Wednesday, September 28
The Goldbergs - "I Heart Video Dating" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Erica and Lainey try to find Bill a woman of interest by using new technology for dating. They recruit Adam to create a demo reel, but Beverly insists she will find someone the old fashioned way. Meanwhile, after a “failed” aptitude test, Barry decides he wants to be a gym teacher and becomes Coach Mellor’s apprentice.
Speechless - "N-E--NEW A-I--AIDE" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Maya struggles as Kenneth takes over as JJ’s full-time aide. Loving his new freedom, JJ avoids attending a physical therapy appointment, and Maya automatically blames Kenneth, using any excuse to confirm her misgivings and moves to fire him. Meanwhile, Jimmy struggles to teach Dylan the family way to not be so neighborly.
Modern Family - "A Stereotypical Day" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jay does not want to give the new family moving in across the street the wrong impression and goes out of his way to make sure they know he is the best kind of neighbor, while Manny decides that the best way to an attractive and radical-thinking teenage girl’s heart is through his actions. Meanwhile, at the Pritchett house, the entire family is using Alex’s recent bout of mono to their advantage. Finally, Cam and Mitchell have always felt they were the most open, non-judgmental and supportive parents. However, when they overhear Lily insulting her new friend, they have to take a quick look in the mirror before they teach her a lesson about acceptance.
black-ish - "God" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Dre discovers that Zoey is questioning her belief in God, he undergoes a crisis of faith and leans on family members and coworkers for their input. Meanwhile, Bow’s brother Johan comes to stay with The Johnsons after living abroad and becomes an instant thorn in Dre’s side.
Younger - "A Kiss is Just a Kiss" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Liza sends Caitlin off to college and struggles to weigh her feelings for both Josh and Charles.
Impastor - "The Devil Went Down to Ladner" (TV Land, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Buddy’s attempt to outfox the detectives backfires. Dora, Alexa, and Russell suspect something ominous is going on with their new pastor. Schmidt learns the truth about Ashlee.
You're the Worst - "Twenty-Two" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Edgar spends the day trying to find some relief for his PTSD.
Wednesday, September 28
- Sarah Jessica Parker (Divorce/Sex and the City/Square Pegs) - Watch Sarah on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Daveed Diggs (black-ish) - Daveed stops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- January Jones (The Last Man on Earth) - January appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She will also be on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings and on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
- Wilmer Valderrama (That '70s Show) - Wilmer visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Ken Marino (Marry Me/Party Down/Men Behaving Badly) - Ken is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Ted Danson (The Good Place/Becker/Cheers) - Ted stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley/The Goodwin Games/Carpoolers) - T.J. appears on Chelsea on Netflix.
- Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Nathan Lane (Modern Family/Encore! Encore!/Charlie Lawrence) and John Goodman (Roseanne) - Nathan and John talk about The Front Page on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
- Hilary Duff (Younger/Lizzie McGuire) and Debbie Mazar (Younger/Entourage/Working) - Hilary and Debbie talk about Younger on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. Hilary will also be on People Now at 8:30am.
- The Cast of Impastor - Michael Rosenbaum, Sara Rue, Mircea Monroe, David Rasche and Mike Kosinski discuss Impastor on the AOL Build Show at 12pm and on Facebook Live. Sara will also be on PIX Morning News on WPIX in New York.
- Marcia Gay Harden (Trophy Wife) - Marcia is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Norm Macdonald (Norm) - Norm appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.