Friday, September 28, 2007

The CW Fall Pilot Review: Aliens in America - Premieres October 1; TV Land Keeps The Brady Bunch

Aliens in America

Aliens in America - Mondays at 8:30PM ET/PT on The CW
Premieres October 1 at 8:30PM ET/PT

Aliens in America is the story of Justin Tolchuk, a 16-year-old that is all alone in the world, that has a mother that gives him the perfect present to get out of his loner rut--an exchange student. The only problem is that his mother doesn't realize that the Nordic exchange student that they are getting is a Pakistani kid named Raja, who is going to be a true "alien in America." The series explores how this relationship will (and sometimes won't) work out for the Tolchuk family, with mother Franny fearing Muslims, father Gary just being happy because they get paid for having an exchange student living in the house, sister Claire who is just kind of there, and Justin and Raja, who may have a friendship to gain from this experience.

Cast Details:

Adhir Kalyan as Raja Musharaff, Dan Byrd as Justin Tolchuk, Amy Pietz as Franny Tolchuk, Lindsey Shaw as Claire Tolchuk, Scott Patterson as Gary Tolchuk

Essentially, the show has been cast with a bunch of unknowns--but then again, how many truly great sitcoms have had stars that were well-known BEFORE the series started? The series stars Dan Byrd as Justin and Adhir Kalyan as Raja, both of whom are relatively unknown. Amy Pietz, who had a role on Caroline in the City (does anybody even remember this series?) in the 90s plays mother Franny, while Scott Patterson, formerly of Gilmore Girls, plays father Gary. Lindsey Shaw plays the role of Claire; Shaw previously had a role on the Nickelodeon series Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.


Pilot Plot:

I have received the first two episodes. The first episode introduces us to the series and what it is all about--which is basically the family getting Raja as their Nordic exchange student (Nordic because he came from Pakistan through a Nordic country before he got into the United States). The family is basically in shock about who their exchange student is, particularly since they live in a small Wisconsin town where people that are different are automatically assumed to be terrorists, but when Gary sees the dollars that he gets for having Raja in the house and Franny sees how Justin is making his first true friend, these stereotypes fly out the window.

In the second episode, "No Man is an Island," Raja tells the entire class that if he was stuck on a desert island with only one thing, it would be his best friend Justin--which of course leads the whole class to think that they are a homosexual couple. But things backfire when Justin turns to Claire for advice on how to make Raja stop embarassing him... but you'll have to watch the show to see how that turns out.


Analysis:

The show isn't laugh out loud funny, but it isn't intended to be that type of sitcom anyway. Actually, it reminds me a LOT of The Wonder Years in the style that it is done, with the show having Justin narrating just about everything that happens within the episode as if he was telling the story about what is happening. It is obvious that the producers here are trying to create a well-written series here that has funny moments along the way. But if the series wants to last, they need to create some good scripts, and I'm not sure how far they'll be able to go with that in a series with a premise like this. Many of the "fish out of water" sitcoms of the past (think of Perfect Strangers, ALF, and others) used quite a few funny moments, and even though they did have decent scripts, they may not have always (though sometimes could have) been scripts that could stand alone without many funny moments and a laugh track (something that this series does NOT have).

The show uses a lot of stereotypes about Muslims (as well as other groups) too, which makes it a bit politically incorrect, and honestly most people would not say actually say (and hopefully not believe, but certainly some will) a lot of the stuff that is said in the show. But of course, it is just a sitcom and you can't take it all that seriously. Besides, despite all of the stereotypes, it shows how incorrect a lot of the stereotypes are, and that is what many sitcoms about stereotypes often do. Plus, the point of the show is just to enjoy it and not make anything of the stereotypes, which makes me wonder why I just wasted away this paragraph talking about it.


Conclusion:

Really, this isn't a bad show, and it seems like the perfect fit for a younger audience, which is exactly what The CW is after. In fact, if it weren't for the political incorrectness that the show exhibits a LITTLE bit (which isn't too much), this show could almost fit in on a network such as Nickelodeon, as it reminds me of some of the early '90s sitcoms that the network aired (and the style that they appear to be trying to return to). I'd give this show about two weeks to last on any other network, not because it is a bad show (it is actually decent), but because it will be hard for the right audience to find it. But given that this will air on The CW and right after Everybody Hates Chris, I'd give this show a fighting chance.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 2.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Skees53 on 09/28/07

Discuss the show after you watch it on Monday on our message board.

Related Links:

  • The CW Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Aliens in America Photo Gallery


    The other day we mentioned we will let you know if The Brady Bunch will be staying past the two weeks it was slated for. And the answer is...YES. It will continue to air Tues-Fri at 11am the week of Oct. 16 and beyond. It starts airing of course starting Oct. 2 Also, the week of Oct. 15 will see an additional Brady airing, at 4:30am every night!
    There are some other minor changes starting Oct. 15, including an Andy Griffith Tuesday block from 8-10pm, replacing Cosby Show and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will move from Tuesdays at 11 to Saturdays at 11! Good morning TV Land, indeed!
    Full list of changes for that week can be found here.

  • Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Thursday, November 21

    Young Sheldon - "The Sin of Greed and a Chimichanga from Chi-Chi’s" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    The University makes George Sr. a lucrative job offer in the hopes of recruiting Sheldon. Also, Georgie gets a job working for Meemaw’s new boyfriend, and Mary is determined to rid her home of greed.

    The Unicorn - "Turkeys and Traditions" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Wade and the girls tackle hosting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for friends and extended family. Also, Ben attempts to make a fried turkey for the very first time. Annie Mumolo guest stars as Aunt Allison, Wade’s opinionated and passive-aggressive sister-in-law who’s visiting for Thanksgiving.

    Mom - "Hot Butter and Toxic Narcissism" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Christy regrets fleeing the scene after hitting a parked car. Also, Bonnie’s therapist, Trevor (Rainn Wilson), offers tools to help her better communicate with Adam.

    Carol's Second Act - "Sick and Retired" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Carol’s dear friend Phyllis (guest star Jane Kaczmarek) is admitted to the hospital, and Carol jealously witnesses what retirement would have looked like for her. Also, Daniel takes credit for Caleb’s excellent diagnosis and is bothered when Caleb doesn’t seem to mind.

    Superstore - "Curbside Pickup" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    As part of a new corporate initiative Dina is spearheading, Jonah, Cheyenne and other overworked employees have to rush items directly to shoppers’ cars. Amy’s brother, Eric (George Salazar), visits the store, and Amy thinks she sees a spark with Mateo. Garrett is impressed by a customer’s high-tech purchase.

    Perfect Harmony - "Thanks-taking" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Jax convinces Arthur to join the choir's progressive Thanksgiving dinner and snoop in various choir members' homes to find a missing item. Meanwhile, Adams invites her handsome contractor to dinner as a set-up for Ginny, but he has something else in mind.

    The Good Place - "The Answer" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    In an attempt to plan a better future, Chidi considers his past.

    Will & Grace - "The Grief Panda" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    In the aftermath of Will (Eric McCormack) and McCoy breaking up, Grace (Debra Messing) and Jack (Sean Hayes) hire the Grief Panda to help Will process his pain. With Karen (Megan Mullally) completely occupied with her new baseball team, Grace believes that she has to fire Karen in order to set her free.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 18)

    Thursday, November 21

    • Lena Waithe (Master of None) - Catch Lena on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
    • Tom Papa (Come to Papa) and Fortune Feimster (The Mindy Project) - Tom and Fortune are panelists on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
    • Fred Armisen (Los Espookys/Forever) - Fred is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens/Anything But Love) - Jamie Lee chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. She also talks about Knives Out on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
    • Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) - Randall visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) - Eric is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls/Raising Dad) - Kat stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jackée Harry (Tyler Perry's The Paynes/In the Cut/The First Family/Sister, Sister/227) - Jackée appears on The Real, so check your local listings. She also talks about OWN's Carole's Christmas on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
    • Tisha Campbell (Dr. Ken/Rita Rocks/My Wife and Kids/Martin) - Tisha guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney drops by The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Lil Rel Howery (Rel/The Carmichael Show) - Lil Rel is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Sean Hayes (Will & Grace/The Millers/Sean Saves the World) - Sean talks about Will & Grace on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • Craig Bierko (Unhitched/Madman of the People/Sydney) - Craig wlll be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) - Soleil talks about Lifetime's Staging Christmas on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Peter Porte (Baby Daddy) - Peter talks about Cherished Memories: A Gift to Remember 2 on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Niecy Nash (The Soul Man/Getting On/Reno 911!) - Niecy appears on a repeat of LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October/November)

    My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season Life with Lucy - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season

    09/03 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 9th Season
    09/03 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fifth Season
    09/03 - The Goldbergs - The Complete Sixth Season
    09/03 - Single Parents - The Complete Season One
    09/03 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season
    09/04 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete First Season
    09/10 - American Dad! - Volume 14
    09/10 - The Jetsons - The Complete Original Series (Blu-ray) (WBShop.com)
    09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One
    09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume Two
    09/17 - Friends - The Complete Series (25th Anniversary)
    09/17 - Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season
    09/19 - Angel from Hell - The DVD Edition
    09/19 - The Guest Book - Season 1
    10/08 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series
    10/08 - Life with Lucy - The Complete Series
    10/15 - Mom - The Complete Sixth Season
    10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 1
    10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 2
    11/05 - The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang - The Complete Animated Series
    11/05 - Laverne & Shirley in the Army (Animated Series) - The DVD Edition
    11/05 - Letterkenny - Seasons 1 & 2
    11/05 - Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
    11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season (Blu-ray)
    11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Series (Blu-ray Limited Edition)
    11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
    11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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