Monday, June 13, 2016

ABC Summer Pilot Review: Uncle Buck - Premieres Tuesday (June 14); The Brady Bunch Joins Pop Lineup

Uncle Buck

Uncle Buck - Tuesdays at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 9:00PM ET/PT


by Skees

In 1989, the late John Candy played the title role in the memorable (though not exactly critically acclaimed) film Uncle Buck. Buck, a chain-smoking, beer-guzzling, unemployed guy, came to stay with his brother's kids after an emergency left him as the last option. Now, a slightly different Buck, who isn't quite as abrasive, is debuting on the small screen with ABC's newest sitcom, Uncle Buck.

Cast Details:

Mike Epps as Buck Russell
Nia Long as Alexis Russell
James Lesure as Will Russell
Iman Benson as Tia Russell
Sayeed Shahidi as Miles Russell
Aalyrah Caldwell as Maizy Russell

Mike Epps (Buck Russell) is a stand-up comedian who is best known for his film appearances, particularly in the Friday franchise. He has also been seen in The Hangover and many other movies. While he has had a voice role on The Boondocks, this is actually his first regular role in a live-action sitcom.

Nia Long (Alexis Russell) has had roles in several series, including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Third Watch, and the first 13 episodes of The Cleveland Show playing the voice of Roberta. She has also appeared in movies such as Friday, Soul Food, and Big Momma's House.

James Lesure (Will Russell) made his television debut in guest roles on several successful 90s series before landing a starring role in For Your Love. He later went on to star in Las Vegas, and most recently, he has appeared in Mr. Sunshine and Men at Work.

Iman Benson (Tia Russell) is a young actress from Atlanta who makes her debut to television (and to everybody, for that matter) with this series.

Sayeed Shahidi (Miles Russell) was born in Minneapolis, and is already somewhat known on the small screen, from his role on the syndicated sitcom The First Family.

Aalyrah Caldwell (Maizy Russell) has appeared in an episode of The Fosters and Key and Peele. She has also done modeling for several major retail brands.


Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs June 14 at 9:00PM ET)

The Russell family is going through a lot of changes lately, as both parents are now working and they have three children at home to take care of. When both Alexis and Will are forced to take business trips at the same time, they need somebody to take care of their kids, and it isn't easy given all of the "tests" the kids give to potential babysitters. When it appears all options have been exhausted, there is one last option: Will's habitually unemployed slacker brother, Buck.

"L'il Scarface" (Airs June 14 at 9:30PM ET)

Maizy has to sell cookies for a fundraiser, but sales aren't going too well for her at all. Not only is it hard to find people to sell the cookies to, but her people skills aren't exactly that great. But Buck is there to help, and his hustling skills quickly make an innocent little girl's fundraiser become something much different. Meanwhile, a hole in the wall is causing big headaches for Tia and Miles.


Analysis:

The pilot episode of the series was familiar to me and should be familiar to many people. Quite literally, the pilot is just a slight rewrite of the John Candy film script, with some minor alterations to the plot and of course, it was condensed into about 20 minutes from the film length of 99 minutes. For example, in the film, Buck comes to stay with the family because the grandfather had a heart attack and Cindy Russell (renamed Alexis Russell in this series) wanted to be with him. On the pilot episode, things are a lot less dramatic, as Buck comes to stay with the family because Alexis has to go on a business trip. Also, the character of Tia is a lot less abrasive than she was in the film. In the pilot, she seems to only be somewhat annoyed by Buck, whereas in the film, she seemed to completely despise him throughout much of the film. And of course, the movie had a happy ending for Buck as he left the family and went off with Chanice to live happily ever after... obviously you can't make an entire series if you end the pilot that way.

The episode "L'il Scarface" allows the series to take on an identity of its own, and moves away from the film plot. In particular, the presence of the parents in the house, along with Buck, makes things a bit different. In the movie, the parents were a distant thing. Now, they are actively getting involved in the shenanigans that Buck brings to the family. The character of Tia, particularly, seems to evolve as a much different (particularly, a softer and gentler) character in this episode.

It isn't a bad series, but part of me can't help but to wonder: why make a series based upon this film, and why now? The film is sort of memorable among John Candy fans (and he had plenty of them, for sure), but it isn't exactly a film that defined the era in the way that many of the other John Hughes productions of that same era (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Home Alone, Planes Trains and Automobiles, National Lampoon's Vacation, and others) did. As for the timing, the movie is 27 years old. I guess it is fair to say that they aren't necessarily going after an audience who remembered and loved the film, and want to create something of their own here. Still, it is peculiar that they are reusing the same idea now.

One point worth making is that this is the second time that this movie has been attempted to be made into a series. The first aired in 1990 on CBS and starred Kevin Meaney. It survived though a little over half a season before being canceled due to competition from Full House, which was airing on ABC in the same timeslot. But that doesn't mean that the second time can't be a charm, as was realized with the film Parenthood. It, too, had a failed sitcom based upon it debut in 1990 on NBC, but it managed to have a second series reboot in 2010 as a family drama and ended up running for six seasons. So a series based upon a film isn't exactly guaranteed to fail.

Conclusion:

Everything about this series just screams "limited run," particularly since it didn't debut until summer and they are airing two episodes per week. It is as if they are mostly just burning off a series that the network wasn't really sold on. As expected, it isn't on the fall lineup either (it wouldn't have made any sense to "bring back" a series that has yet to start). That doesn't mean it is a terrible series, but it is easy to get a sense that it probably isn't expected to go far. Perhaps if it can prove to be a breakout hit, and the pilot isn't going to help with that since it is just a rewrite of the film, there is hope for it going forward. In the meantime, it is worth checking out the episodes that are scheduled to air. It is refreshing to have new episodes of a sitcom in the summer, and this one really is a decent one. It is just that it lacks that "wow" factor that it would need for it to truly succeed.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 9:00PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Uncle Buck Photo Gallery



  • Preview:

    The Brady Bunch

    Well here's a story! The Brady Bunch is now on Pop! The network formerly known as TV Guide, has began airing The Brady Bunch every weekday morning from 9:30am-11am beginning today. It will lead into another '70s classic, The Love Boat at 11am, which is now back as a regular on weekdays. The rest of the line-up will feature '90s prime soap Beverly Hills, 90210 from 12pm-4pm into a two-hour That '70s Show block from 4-6pm. The 6-8pm block is re-purposing of current series, with Celebrity Name Game at 6, followed by The Bold & The Beautiful at 6:30pm and The Talk at 7pm. Original series, movies and various other series will fill primetime and late night (8pm-2am). With the changes, Ghost Whisperer will now only air on Sundays from 12-6pm. Back to The Brady Bunch, it pops (no pun intended) up on Logo from time to time (but not much with new additions like 227, All in the Family, What's Happening!! and Three's Company being added) and is also on the over-the-air digital network MeTV.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Thursday, January 18

    The Big Bang Theory - "The Separation Triangulation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Koothrappali finds himself in the middle of domestic drama when he learns the woman he’s dating, Nell (Beth Behrs), has a very upset husband, Oliver (Walton Goggins). Also, when Sheldon rents his old room back for a quiet place to work, he drives Leonard crazy by being a model tenant.

    Young Sheldon - "A Computer, a Plastic Pony, and a Case of Beer" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Sheldon asks for a computer and unknowingly sparks a heated argument between Mary and George Sr. over the family’s finances.

    Mom - "Sex Fog and a Mild-To-Moderate Panic Attack" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    After Bonnie and Adam attend a traditional wedding, they discover they’re not on the same page about their own wedding. Also, Christy and Patrick have trouble setting the mood for their “first time."

    Life in Pieces - "Goose Friends Auction Fog" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    When Jen sings in Tyler’s band, she gets caught up in the excitement and creates an awkward situation for him. Also, John and Greg decide to brew beer together, Matt donates one of his paintings to a silent auction for Tim’s medical charity, and Heather becomes jealous of Joan’s friendship with a classmate.

    Superstore - "High Volume Store" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    When corporate announces that the store is getting an upgrade, Amy (America Ferrera), Jonah (Ben Feldman) and Dina (Lauren Ash) set out to discover the pros and cons. Meanwhile, Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) accidentally volunteers to be Glenn's (Mark McKinney) surrogate, and tries to get out of it.

    The Good Place - "Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Janet (D'Arcy Carden) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) head to a destination that may have lasting implications.

    Will & Grace - "The Wedding" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing), Jack (Sean Hayes), and Karen (Megan Mullally) attend the wedding of Will's ex-boyfriend, Vince (special guest star Bobby Cannavle). While Grace tries to keep Will from making a scene, Jack learns that his wedding hook-up has many strings attached.

    Great News - "The Fast Track" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    After an explosive fight with her daughter, Carol (Andrea Martin) is excited about her new position at "Morning Wined Up," but is disappointed to realize that the job offers less responsibility than she had hoped. Katie (Briga Heelan) is determined to bring down Fenton Pelt (guest star Jim Rash), the billionaire suing "The Breakdown," despite specific orders from Greg (Adam Campbell) and the network's attorney (guest star Tim Meadows) to leave him alone. When Katie's rousing speech about journalistic integrity fails to inspire anyone but Chuck (John Michael Higgins), who has been suspended from the show, she reluctantly joins forces, only to find that his investigative skills aren't what they used to be.

    K.C. Undercover - "Take Me out" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    A high-school math whiz trains to be an undercover spy.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 15)

    Thursday, January 18

    • Jason Jones (The Detour) - Catch Jason on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Rob Riggle (Golan the Insatiable/Gary Unmarried) - Rob appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He can also be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM at 10:05am.
    • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Ricky stops by Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
    • Selma Blair (Anger Management/Kath & Kim/Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane) - Selma visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie/Malibu Country) and Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) - Lily and Jane are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 11:15pm on Bravo.
    • Yvette Nicole Brown (The Mayor/The Odd Couple/Community) - Yvette guest co-hosts The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • Rickey Smiley (The Rickey Smiley Show) - Rickey drops by The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Geoff Stults (Enlisted) - Geoff talks about 12 Strong on Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Jackée Harry (The Paynes/The First Family/The Game/227) - Jackée talks about her new OWN show The Paynes on Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Wilmer Valderrama (That '70s Show) - Wilmer appears on Steve, so check your local listings.
    • Giselle Eisenberg (Life in Pieces) - Giselle talks about Life in Pieces on Steve, so check your local listings.
    • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly talks about the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries original Morning Show Mystery: Mortal Mishaps on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/Café Americain/One Day at a Time) - Clinton Kelly and Valerie are serving up a delicious dish on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
    • Ed Begley Jr. (Futureman/Your Family or Mine/Gary Unmarried) - Ed talks about Futureman on NBC's Megyn Kelly Today in the 9am hour.
    • Peter Facinelli (Nurse Jackie) - Peter appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
    • Deon Cole (grown-ish/black-ish/Angie Tribeca) - Deon is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
    • Luis Guzmán (How to Make It in America/Luis) - Luis visits Desus & Mero at 11pm on Viceland.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December/January)

    The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Third Season Living Single - The Complete Third Season Alice - The Complete Sixth Season One Day at a Time - The Complete Series Fuller House - The Complete Second Season

    11/07 - American Dad! - Volume 12
    11/07 - Family Guy - Season Fifteen
    11/07 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Third Season
    11/14 - D.C. Follies - The Complete Series
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    11/24 - Grandfathered - Season 1
    12/05 - Alice - The Complete Sixth Season
    12/05 - One Day at a Time - The Complete Series
    12/05 - The Simpsons - The Eighteenth Season
    12/05 - South Park - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
    12/12 - Fuller House - The Complete Second Season
    12/19 - South Park - The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray) / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11
    01/09 - Girlfriends - The Complete Series
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