Thursday, October 03, 2013

NBC Fall Pilot Review: Sean Saves the World - Premieres Tonight; Instant Mom Premieres Strong on Nick at Nite

Sean Saves the World

Sean Saves the World - Thursdays at 9:00PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 9:00PM ET/PT


by Skees

This season, NBC has two sitcoms on their Thursday night lineup with stars from past hits on their Thursday night lineup. The latest is Sean Saves the World, a sitcom starring Sean Hayes as a divorced father (who also happens to be gay) dealing with raising a teenage daughter, a busy work life, and a meddling mother who just can't stay out of his life.


Cast Details:
Sean Hayes as Sean
Linda Lavin as Lorna
Samantha Isler as Ellie
Thomas Lennon as Max
Megan Hilty as Liz
Echo Kellum as Hunter
Vik Sahay as Howard

Sean Hayes (Sean) is best known for his role as Jack in the series Will & Grace. He also serves as executive producer for the series, and is also as an executive producer of popular series including Grimm, Hot in Cleveland, and The Soul Man.

Linda Lavin (Lorna) is best known for her role as Alice in the popular TV series Alice, which ran from 1976 until 1985 on CBS. She began her career on Broadway, and has appeared in other series including Barney Miller, Conrad Bloom, and Room for Two.

Samantha Isler (Ellie) was born in Tulsa, OK, and has appeared in roles in the films Home Run and No One Knows.

Thomas Lennon (Max) is a comedian and writer who is best known for his role as Lieutenant Jim Dangle in the series Reno 911. He has appeared in cameo appearances in several films.

Megan Hilty (Liz) is a stage and television actress who most recently starred in the series Smash. She has had guest roles in Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Louie, and Eli Stone.

Echo Kellum (Hunter) most recently appeared as a regular on the Fox series Ben and Kate. He is a graduate of The Groundlings, I.O. West, and the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Vik Sahay (Howard) is best known for playing Lester Patel in the NBC series Chuck. He has also appeared in series such as NCIS and Bones.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (airs Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 9:00PM ET/PT)

In the pilot episode, we meet Sean (Sean Hayes), a divorced dad who is busy at life with his career and with his constantly interfering mother, Lorna (Linda Lavin). Things get even more complicated now that he has full custody of his daughter, Ellie (Samantha Isler), especially since she has just started high school and is growing up. In the pilot, we get a glimpse into Sean's life, and some of the complications that arise as he tries to juggle all of this, including having to go out of his way to ensure he is spending time with his daughter.

"Busted" (airs Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 9:00 ET/PT)

In the second episode of the series, Sean has to face facts when he realizes that his daughter is growing up, and like many single sitcom fathers before him, he faces the problem that Ellie needs a bra. So this leaves him to have to turn to one of the women in his life: mother Lorna or friend Liz (Megan Hilty). Unfortunately, chaos ensues when he decides to let both of them take part in this experience.

"Date Expectations" (airs Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 9:00 ET/PT)

Sean has been out of the dating pool for quite some time, and now it is time for him to reenter it, when he is set up on a blind date with a periodontist. But if he wasn't already a wreck in preparing for this date, the timing couldn't be worse, as Ellie goes to a party and loses her cell phone along the way (it doesn't help that he is tracking her by GPS) and Lorna barges in on the date over her concern when she can't get in touch with Ellie. Meanwhile, back at the office, some classic commercials featuring Sean and Lorna in bed with one another... literally... cause embarrassment at both work and home for Sean.


Analysis:

It feels like broken relationships have been a huge theme in some of this season's newest sitcoms, whether they be broken engagements, divorces, separations, or (in this case) the child from a marriage that was never meant to be. I don't doubt at all that such an arrangement for a sitcom is not viable. The idea behind this sitcom is very much workable, but for some reason, it just doesn't seem to work here.

Perhaps a lot of my criticism is fueled from the pilot episode. I've watched a lot of pilot episodes where we are slowly and subtly explained what the background is, and why we are where we are... but somehow, this one just felt incredibly forced. It all started father-daughter conversation where both participants in the conversation knew exactly what was going on, but felt the need to just verbally explain it to one another. From that point on, the pilot seemed to drag on and was not at all the most exciting thing to sit through. It didn't help that there really weren't any big laughs in it. About the only redeeming quality was seeing Linda Lavin on TV, but that alone is a novelty that couldn't possibly get a viewer through an entire season.

The second episode, "Busted," did get a little bit better, with the traditional father-daughter moment of a single father trying to get a bra for his daughter (Punky Brewster and Who's the Boss? both did this), but it still didn't seem to be all that well written as some of those series were when they handled the topic.

"Date Expectations" is a dating episode, something that I imagine that this series will try a lot, where Sean goes on a date after being "out of the pool" for quite some time, and of course, in typical sitcom fashion, everything goes wrong. Honestly, this episode wasn't bad and did provide a few laughs, but not enough to compensate for the lack thereof in the previous two.

Finally, the real problem is that this show is pretty much the "odd guy" in the room. NBC has made a reputation for itself in the past decade (particularly when series such as Scrubs and The Office were an integral part of the network) as a network of single-camera sitcoms. I would love to see them get into more multi-camera sitcoms, as this one is, but the problem is that they tend to not fit in at all when they are completely surrounded by single-camera sitcoms. It would take a really good sitcom to break that barrier, and I'm not sure that this one fits that criteria.

There is one positive among all of this, though. The casting of the series is mostly well done, and even Sean Hayes comes off as a character who is likeable in this series.

Conclusion:

Can Sean save the world, or even the NBC Thursday night lineup? I don't think so. I really wanted to like this show, especially given that it brings Linda Lavin back to TV in a regular role, but this show feels too "forced" and has the same feeling that a long string of unsuccessful NBC sitcoms of the late 90s had (remember, NBC may have been a powerhouse back then, but the strengths were in a few memorable sitcoms, and the rest is now an afterthought). That being said, this is airing on NBC, after all. I expect them to give it a while to try to make it more enjoyable, and who knows, maybe the fortunes of this series could change. Unfortunately, I don't see it saving anything.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 9:00PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:



Preview:





Instant Mom

Nick at Nite's brand-new, live-action family comedy, Instant Mom, had a strong debut on Sunday, Sept, 29, at 8:30 pm (ET/PT), bringing in over a million total viewers and raising both A18-49 and K6-11 viewing levels double digits over last year on a competitive night of broadcast network premieres (CBS's Amazing Race, ABC's One Upon a Time, NBC's airing of Sunday Night Football). The new series, starring and produced by Tia Mowry-Hardrict, drew 1.3 million total viewers and was a strong co-viewing draw with audiences. With Adults 18-49, Instant Mom was up over +12% in delivery, averaging a 0.3 rating/351,000 viewers; and with K6-11, it was up +18% (2.6 rating/518,000 viewers). With Women 18-49, gains were +25% in rating and +13% in delivery (0.5/278,000 viewers). Additionally, Instant Mom's launch on NickMom that same night at 10 pm was the block's highest-rated premiere ever with W18-49 and total viewers.

Instant Mom is a multi-camera, scripted half-hour series features Mowry-Hardrict as Stephanie, a party girl who trades in Cosmos for carpools when she marries Charlie (Michael Boatman, Spin City), who already has three kids. Sheryl Lee Ralph (Moesha) stars as Stephanie's mother Maggie, and rounding out the cast are Charlie's three kids played by Sydney Park (CSI: NY), Tylen Williams and Damarr Calhoun. Instant Mom airs on Nick at Nite Sundays at 8:30 pm and on the NickMom comedy block on the Nick Jr. channel at 10pm. Instant Mom is executive-produced by Howard Michael Gould and Aaron Kaplan.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, July 30

Bunk'd - "Moose Queens and Possum Kings" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Destiny needs someone old enough to enter the Summer Moose Queen Pageant, she enlists Parker and Ava for help.

Gabby Duran & the Unsittables - "A Song of Gabby & Susie" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Gabby teams up with her bitter rival, Susie, to masquerade as best friends to win a contest to meet her favorite book author.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 26)

Friday, July 30

  • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Watch Chelsea on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Molly Ringwald (The Facts of Life/Townies) - Molly talks about The Kissing Booth 3 on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney chats about Touch Me with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Dove Cameron (Schmigadoon!/Liv and Maddie) - Dove appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Jay Pharoah (White Famous/Champaign ILL) - Jay talks about his role in the new Netflix series Resort to Love on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Don Johnson (Kenan) - Don appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Nicole Byer (Loosely Exactly Nicole) - Nicole is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Julie Andrews (Julie) - Julie appears on a repeat of The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Strahan (Brothers) - Michael appears on a repeat of Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen is a guest on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Tia Mowry (Family Reunion/Instant Mom/The Game/Sister, Sister) - Tia whips up the perfect breakfast for kids, overnight oats in the shape of Elmo, on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (March-July)

Fuller House - The Complete Series Parks and Recreation - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Re-Release) Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Re-Release)

03/02 - Blue Mountain State - The Complete Series
03/02 - Happy Together - The Complete Series
03/02 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-4 (DVD) (Blu-ray)
04/20 - 'Til Death - The Complete Series
05/11 - Dead to Me - Season Two
06/08 - The Critic - The Complete Series
06/08 - Fuller House - The Fifth and Final Season
06/08 - Fuller House - The Complete Series
06/08 - Our Cartoon President - Season 3
06/15 - The Office - Season 1 (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9
06/15 - Parks and Recreation - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
07/07 - No Activity - Season 2
07/13 - The Unicorn - Season 2
07/20 - Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season
07/27 - Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Re-Release)
07/27 - Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Re-Release)
08/03 - I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

07/30 - Fri-Yay: Ted Lasso and Mythic Quest Are Promising Comedies on Apple TV+; Paramount+ Announces Cast for The Game Revival
07/29 - Sarah Silverman Hosting David Letterman Produced TBS Series; More Stars Joining And Just Like That...
07/28 - Game Show Network Announces New Original Series; Retta Hosting New HGTV Show
07/27 - Fox Fall 2021 Premiere Dates; B.J. Novak's The Premise to Premiere on FX on Hulu
07/26 - Damon Wayans Jr. to Host Frogger; Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens Getting All-Star Guests
07/25 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 26, 2021)
07/24 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Manifest Cancellation Being Reconsidered; American Housewife Sold for Broadcast Syndication
07/23 - Fri-Yay: 2021 Emmy Nominations Heavy on New Comedies, Light on Traditional Sitcoms; That Damn Michael Che Gets a Second Season
07/22 - Lifetime Announces Justina Machado TV Movie; ABC News to Focus on Superstars
07/21 - HBO Max's Love Life Season 2 Announces Cast; Kevin Hart and Jason Biggs Host Back-to-Back Shows on E!
07/20 - Peacock's Superfan Episodes of The Office; The Other Two Season 2 Launch Date on New Network HBO Max
07/19 - Melrose Place Reunion on Fox's New Fantasy Island; Tacoma FD Returns Sept. 16 on truTV
07/18 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 19, 2021)
07/17 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Jerry O'Connell Joins the Conversation on The Talk; Norman Lear Sitcoms Arrive on Amazon Prime Video and IMDb TV
07/16 - ABC Fall 2021 Premiere Dates Includes The Wonder Years; Paramount+ Renews iCarly
07/15 - Norman Lear Classics to Stream on Amazon Prime Video and IMDb TV; Cristela Alonzo to Host Hidden Temple on The CW
07/14 - 73rd Emmy Awards Nominations; Showtime Orders Vanessa Bayer and Molly Shannon Comedy
07/13 - Emmy Awards Slated for Sep. 19, CBS Fall Premiere Dates; Remembering Charlie Robinson - Mac from Night Court
07/12 - Huge Star Joining Season 5 of Search Party on HBO Max; Late Night Talk Show Pause with Sam Jay to Return
07/11 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 12, 2021)
07/10 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Casting News for Night Court Reboot; Rutherford Falls Renewed for Second Season
07/09 - Fri-Yay: CNN's History of the Sitcom Looks Like a Treat for Sitcom Fans; Rutherford Falls Renewed for 2nd Season; Remembering Suzzanne Douglas of The Parent 'Hood
07/08 - COZI TV Acquires 3rd Rock from the Sun and Quincy, M.E. This Summer; The Standups to Return to Netflix After Long Hiatus
07/07 - AnTENna TV's Birthday Party Continues on July 10; HBO Max's Our Flag Means Death Adds More to Cast
07/06 - Netflix Cancels 4 Sitcoms Including Kevin James Series; HBO Max's Pretty Little Liars Casts Two Leads
07/05 - Happy 4th of July; Limited Edition Younger Vinyl Soundtrack Coming July 16; Seinfeld Soundtrack Released
07/04 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 5, 2021)
07/03 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Netflix Cancels Several Sitcoms; Telma Hopkins Cast in NBC Dark Dramedy Pilot
07/02 - Fri-Yay: Modern Family is a Perfect Holiday Weekend Binge; Spike Lee to Open NBA Finals
07/01 - The Simpsons and Marvel Join Forces on Disney+; Netflix Orders Catherine Tate Comedy Series
06/30 - Two Season 2 Premieres This August: Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens on Aug. 18; Work in Progress on Aug. 22