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.

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