Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ABC Midseason Pilot Review: Family Tools - Premieres May 1; Episodic Reviews: New Girl - "Virgins" and The Mindy Project - "Triathlon" Airing Tonight on Fox

Family Tools

Family Tools - Wednesdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Pavan

Mixing family with business is never easy, and Jack Shea (Kyle Bornheimer) is about to learn that lesson the hard way. When Jack's father, Tony (J.K. Simmons), has a heart attack and is forced to hand over the keys to his beloved handyman business, Jack is eager to finally step up and make his father proud. Unfortunately Jack's past career efforts have been less than stellar, so everyone seems to be waiting for him to fail. His new job isn't made any easier by Tony's rebellious, troublemaking assistant, Darren (Edi Gathegi), and Darren's flirtatious sister, Stitch (Danielle Nicolet), who works at the local hardware store. But with the support of his Aunt Terry (Leah Remini) and his oddball yet endearing cousin Mason (Johnny Pemberton), Jack Shea may just find his true calling right at home.

Cast Details:
Kyle Bornheimer as Jack Shea
J.K. Simmons as Tony Shea
Edi Gathegi as Darren Poynton
Johnny Pemberton as Mason Baumgardner
Danielle Nicolet as Stitch Poynton
Leah Remini as Terry Baumgardner

Kyle Bornheimer (Jack Shea) made his television debut in 2008 as the hapless Sam Briggs in the critically-acclaimed CBS series, Worst Week. His performance in the lead role landed him rave reviews from critics across the country. TV Guide called Bornheimer the "biggest comic discovery of the new season," while Entertainment Weekly wrote "Bornheimer is the find of the fall season." His performance also earned him a spot on Entertainment Weekly's 2009 "Dream Emmy Ballot" list in the Best Lead Actor (Comedy) category. In 2010 he co-starred opposite Alyssa Milanp on the ABC sitcom Romantically Challenged. Bornheimer was a series regular in the NBC comedy series Perfect Couples in 2011. His other television credits include guest starring roles on The Office, Party Down and Breaking Bad. On the big screen, in 2010 Bornheimer starred opposite Kristen Bell, Odette Annable, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis and Betty White in the Disney feature You Again. His scene-stealing performance as Tim, a jilted ex-boyfriend, earned him positive reviews from critics, including USA Today and The Los Angeles Times, who noted "...it's Kyle Bornheimer... who makes the best impression. Most recently Bornheimer starred in the upcoming independent feature, Bachelorette, opposite Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and James Marsden, and can now be seen as Katherine Heigl's estranged husband in The Wedding, with Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon and Amanda Seyfried.

J.K. Simmons (Tony Shea) has appeared in diverse projects spanning motion pictures, television and the stage on and off Broadway. He is known for playing the character J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's Spider Man trilogy. Other motion picture credits include Hidalgo, The Ladykillers, The Mexican, Off the Map, For Love of the Game, The Gift, Thank You for Smoking, Rendition, Burn After Reading and, memorably, his portrayal of the off-beat but not deadbeat father, Mac McGuff, in the hit comedy Juno. Soon he will begin shooting the Steve Jobs biopic, Jobs, as well as Jason Reitman's latest film, Labor Day, both being released in 2013. On the small screen Simmons plays LAPD Assistant Chief Will Pope in TNT's hit series The Closer. He also played Vern Schillinger on HBO's acclaimed drama Oz, and had a recurring role as Dr. Emil Skoda on NBC's Law & Order. Most recently he recurred on TBS' new hit comedy Men at Work.

Edi Gathegi (Darren Poynton) has steadily increased his profile and quality body of work in recent years with roles on both the big and small screens. Initially recognized for his recurring role on Fox's hit television series House as Dr. Cole (AKA: "Big Love"), Gathegi went on to join the ensemble cast of the box office phenomenon Twilight, then reprised his role as Laurent in the 2009 sequel, The Twilight Saga: New Moon. He was last seen in Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class. Additionally, he made his Los Angeles stage debut top-lining Superior Donuts at the prestigious Geffen Playhouse, which garnered him an Ovation Award nomination. Gathegi's notable film credits include features Gone Baby Gone, directed by Ben Affleck, and more recently, the literary adaptation Atlas Shrugged. Previous television credits includes Nikita, CSI, CSI: Miami, Veronica Mars, Lincoln Heights, Red Widow and the critically acclaimed Life on Mars.

Johnny Pemberton (Mason Baumgardner) hails from Rochester, Minnesota. He hosted and wrote on the MTV series Megadrive. He can be seen in the hit feature film 21 Jump Street, the upcoming movies The Watch and This is 40, and in Armando Ianucci's Oscar-nominated film, In The Loop. He has also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Lopez Tonight, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Sundance Channel and AdultSwim. .

Danielle Nicolet (Lisa "Stitch" Poynton) starred with Lucy Liu in the Lifetime miniseries Marry Me. She was a series regular on USA's Emmy-winning The Starter Wife, opposite Debra Messing. She also starred as a series regular on TNT's Heartland with Treat Williams. Nicolet started her TV career on NBC's 3rd Rock from the Sun.

Leah Remini (Terry Baumgardner) was made her first television appearance on the ABC '80s sitcom Head of the Class, and she landed her first starring role shortly thereafter on the ABC series Living Dolls (a spin-off of ABC's Who's the Boss?, where she also appeared), as well as recurring roles on Saved by the Bell. Remini went on to guest star on hit shows such as Friends and landed recurring roles in Cheers (as Rhea Perlman's daughter) and Evening Shade. In addition she has had numerous guest spots, including on the hit drama NYPD Blue, followed by a starring role in the comedy Fired Up. Remini went on to star in the hit series The King of Queens, which enjoyed a successful nine-year run. She established her character, Carrie Heffernan, as a modern and iconic take on the adoring and adorable blue-collar housewife. The King of Queens completed its final season in 2007 and continues to enjoy a huge following in both domestic and global syndication. While filming The King of Queens, Remini starred in the film Old School. Following The King of Queens, Remini pursued her ambitions in the daytime/talk show genre, culminating in the launch of the panel/ensemble series The Talk for CBS.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (airs Wednesday, May 1 at 8:30PM ET/PT)

In the pilot episode for the series, mixing family with business is never easy, and Jack Shea is about to learn that lesson the hard way. When Jack's father, Tony, has a heart attack and is forced to hand over the keys to his beloved handyman business, Jack's eager to finally step up and make his father proud. Unfortunately Jack's past career efforts have been less than stellar, so everyone seems to be waiting for him to fail. His new job isn't made any easier by Tony's rebellious, troublemaking assistant, Darren, and Darren's flirtatious sister, Stitch, who works at the local hardware store. But with the support of his Aunt Terry and his oddball yet endearing cousin Mason, Jack Shea may just find his true calling right at home.

Guest starring Lee Weaver as Ellis Poynton, Adam Arkin as Mr. Baynor, Jo Koy as Berrick, Rob Locke as Niko, Amazon Eve as tall client lady, Matt Orduna as Clarence and Eve Sigall as woman.

"Pilot" was written by Bobby Bowman and directed by Michael Fresco.

Analysis:

After watching the pilot, I can't help but think of Home Improvement. While that show was more of a traditional family comedy, this show is more centered on the workplace. The duo of Jack and Darren remind me of a younger version of Tim and Al from Tool Time (the show within Home Improvement). On this series, there is no show, but we have a real life handyman business. We get to see the fun antics of someone who really doesn't know how to be a handyman, as he is handed (no pun intended) the family business because his father just had a heart attack. Jack Shea, played by Kyle Bornheimer, is the star of this show and he once again delivers in anything he does. I loved him on Worst Week and he shined in traditional comedy on the short-lived Romantically Challenged. Just about everything I have seen him in, whether it is the small screen or big screen, the guy steals the show. He brings the physical comedy and he has a likeness factor that you can't resist. This show definitely is a broad comedy that fits the ABC Comedy Wednesday mold well. It's cartoonish and wacky, but it still brings the laughs.

I mentioned Darren, played by Edi Gathegi. He seems like a guy who doesn't listen to orders but in reality he is very loyal. He was very loyal especially to Jack's dad as an assistant and now Jack has to gain his trust. Darren is having a little fun at Jack's expense. It's going to be fun to watch Jack and Darren do their thing on this series for sure, because they will mess up and it will be interesting to see them get out of it. To add a little romantic flavor, Darren has a hot sister, Lisa (aka "Stitch), that Jack happens to like (well, we know she likes him). Living in the Shea household are Jack's dad Tony and Jack's aunt Terry and her young son Mason. It took me a little bit to figure out that Tony and Terry were brother and sister. I don't buy Leah Remini as that old, but she is definitely playing a much younger sibling. I mean she can pass as Jack's older sister even. Her son Mason on the show is quite a goofball. He doesn't have much substance in the pilot, but I can see him evolving.

The bread and butter of the pilot were Jack and Darren. They are good together and throw in a little of his dad Tony, and we have some great comedic fun. Without giving too much away, we have a lot of laughs and physical comedy, especially from the great Kyle Bornheimer. He might be this generation's John Ritter or Dick Van Dyke. We need good physical comedy on TV. I hope he gets to shine and showcase his talents finally on a show that lasts more than a season. All of his shows so far sadly haven't lasted more than a season. This is the broadest attempt yet, so it could work, if not Bornheimer has been getting a lot of film roles and of course has done well in those, too.

Conclusion:

Even though the pilot isn't perfect by any means, it's still fun and very watchable. It sets-up the series very well and we get a lot of information about the characters and that's what a pilot should do. Now we can sit back and relax and watch the show after we got all of that out of the way. It might be a good fit in between ABC's two biggest comedies The Middle and Modern Family (which are both broad). The cast is very good and hopefully they are utilized to their skills. Leah Remini so far hasn't had much to do, but I'm sure that will change. I've seen next week's episode as well, which we will talk about next Wednesday at noon, and it still centers on Jack and Darren. That's good though because they make this show and are a comedic duo.

Family Tools isn't going to win any awards or anything but it should find an audience. It's debuting a little late into the season, but if it does well these four weeks (not sure if ABC is planning on airing it in the summer), it could make a case to air in this timeslot in the fall (if not, airing after Tim Allen on Fridays would be perfect - Tim, meet the new Tool Man). Quality wise, it's not bad and is harmless fun. It's for all audiences of family comedies and even workplace comedies. To me, it's just as good as How To Live With Your Parents, which debuted last month. That series was another good attempt at a broad comedy and it has done well so far. This series is based on a British comedy and most of the time when we base a comedy off of a British show, it works. After watching Bornheimer, you're going to feel like getting up and fixing something. I'll tell you this, Mr. Jiffy Fix will not be needed to fix this show. It just has to keep on doing what it is doing and let Bornheimer shine. Sample not one, but more than one episode. [See you next week with our review of the second episode.]

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.5/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Family Tools Photo Gallery

    Preview:








  • On the next...New Girl:
    By: Vincent

    Fox's Tuesday adorkable sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel airs Tuesdays at 9:00pm and we have just watched the next episode that airs tonight (April 30). It's a flashback! In the episode airing tonight, "Virgins," Jess (Zooey Deschanel), Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Winston (Lamorne Morris) and Cece (Hannah Simone) flashback to tell one another how each lost his/her virginity. The episode also features guest appearances by Dylan O'Brien, Dennis Farina and Brenda Song. When I first heard about this episode of New Girl during the show's PaleyFest panel a while back, I was actually a little worried about it. The show had done an episode revolving entirely around sex back in early Season 1 entitled "Bad in Bed", and that episode still stands as the show's weakest to date. The humor was far too broad and seemed to prioritize making the weirdest sex scene possible over good characterization, which made for an occasionally amusing but mostly unsatisfying viewing experience. Luckily, both New Girl and its characters have grown substantially since that episode, and "Virgins" is a much, much better effort from the show. The humor still goes a bit too broad for my tastes at times, but overall "Virgins" is an episode that's about these fantastic characters, their past, and where they stand today more than it is about weird sex.



    One interesting aspect of "Virgins" is that it's told almost entirely in flashbacks, which is one of the most daring structural choices the show's made so far. It's a bit of a risk, but it winds up working really well - these characters are so rich and so full of history that it's really cool to see what they were like in the past and how that's affected who they are today. Plus, seeing things like "fat Schmidt" and Nick as a nerdy teenager are priceless visual gags made even better when you factor in Max Greenfield's and Jake Johnson's excellent performances. But for all of the fun that the flashbacks provide, the most interesting part of the episode may be the final few minutes, which offer a montage that demonstrates where the characters stand in their love lives now and how that ties back to who they were in the past. It's an incredibly well-done montage that seems to be setting us up for the final stretch of the season - and it demonstrates that no matter where these characters wind up by the season's end, they'll be in good hands, because they're on a show that quite obviously puts a lot of thought into consideration into each and every thing that happens to them B+



    On the next...The Mindy Project:
    By: Skees

    Fox's Tuesday night comedy starring Mindy Kaling airs Tuesday nights at 9:30pm immediately following New Girl and we have just watched the next episode that airs tonight (April 30). In the episode airing tonight, "Triathlon," Danny’s (Chris Messina) ex-wife, Christina (guest star Chloe Sevigny), comes back to New York to confront him about an emotional letter he had written to her. However, Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) confesses that he had sent the letter, unbeknownst to Danny. Meanwhile, Mindy (Mindy Kaling) and the rest of the staff compete in a triathlon and go head-to-head with the Deslaurier midwives (guest stars Mark and Jay Duplass).

    The episode begins with a visit from Danny's ex-wife Christina, which immediately leads to the firing of Morgan after he reveals that he was the one to woo Christina to his office... thanks to a letter that Danny wrote to her (but never sent). But even though Morgan is gone... and now working for a pair of midwives competing against the staff in a triathlon... Christina isn't going to go away and will do anything to make her feelings known to Danny. As for Mindy, she is training for the triathlon along with Casey (whom we first met in the episode "My Christian Boyfriend") when he makes a request to her that is a true test of faith. Hilarity ensues as she begins to consider his request by exploring the world of Christianity, complete with a Bible study group in her apartment and crashing a Sunday School class. But in the end, it all ties together when it is all about winning the triathlon, and in this one, there are quite a few winners.



    In case the fans haven't caught on yet, we have another "relationships" episode (that seems to be what this whole series is all about). But I think that this one has a pleasant twist, as it isn't just about Mindy and her relationships, but also about Danny and his ex-wife. Of course, just because it isn't all about Mindy and her relationships doesn't mean that they weren't able to work one of those stories in there... but even that story was rather nice (and more down to earth than many have been on this series), with a story about love in spite of religious differences, sort of like a Bridget Loves Bernie story (of course, dating between religions isn't nearly as big of a deal today as it was in the early '70s). The ending to this episode was a bit predictable, but I found that everything wrapped up rather nicely in this episode.  B+


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