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.


    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.