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.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Thursday, May 26

    Young Sheldon - "The Grand Chancellor and a Den of Sin" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Sheldon battles President Hagemeyer’s (Wendie Malick) mysterious boss over the university’s science requirements. Also, Mary discovers that Georgie is working at Meemaw’s illegal gambling room.

    United States of Al - "College / Pohantoon" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Al struggles with the college class he is taking, Riley takes it upon himself to speak to his professor. Also, Art’s confidence is shaken when he learns Lois (Rachel Bay Jones) used to be married to a professional football star.

    Ghosts - "Ghostwriter" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Sasappis offers to help Sam complete the B&B website so they can start taking reservations, they butt heads over the creative direction. Also, Pete bonds with Jay over basketball until Jay makes a new living friend, and Flower attempts to be Pete’s new basketball buddy. Gregory Zaragoza, father of series regular Rom├ín Zaragoza, guest stars as Sasappis’ father, Naxasi.

    B Positive - "" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)

    A therapist and newly divorced dad is looking for a kidney donor when he runs into a rough-around-the-edges woman from his past who offers her own kidney.

    Welcome to Flatch - "Pyramid Schemme" / "Merry Flatchmas" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Kelly accidentally gets involved in a green juice pyramid scheme; Father Joe helps Shrub get into college; Kelly's father puts her in charge of the Flatch Christmas celebration, and disaster ensues.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 23)

    Thursday, May 26

    • Rose Byrne (Physical) - Catch Rose on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Jon Hamm (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) - Jon appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie/New Girl/Burning Love/Players) - June will be on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Glen Powell (Scream Queens) - Glen appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Jennifer Aniston (Friends/Muddling Through/Ferris Bueller/Molloy) - Jennifer is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Sherri Shepherd (Mr. Iglesias/Trial & Error/Sherri/Less Than Perfect/Suddenly Susan) - Sherri guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jenna Fischer (The Office/Splitting Up Together) and Angela Kinsey (The Office/The Hotwives of Orlando) - Jenna and Angela talk about their new book, The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There, on People in 10 at 8am.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (February-May)

    ALT= Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release) Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)

    02/08 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Ninth Season
    02/22 - Everybody Hates Chris - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    02/22 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Eight
    03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    03/15 - Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season
    03/15 - The Proud Family - The Complete Original Series - Anniversary Collection
    03/22 - The Honeymooners Specials - The Complete Collection
    03/29 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    03/29 - Young Rock - Season One
    04/05 - Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    04/26 - The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season
    04/26 - Jackie Gleason TV Treasures - 70th Anniversary Collection (including Honeymooners Rarities)
    05/03 - No Activity - Season Three
    05/31 - Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    05/25 - Black Comedy Revolution Doc to Air on A&E; MTV Movie & TV Awards to Air on Multiple Nets
    05/24 - Abbott Elementary Star to Host ABC Game Show; Amazon Orders The Hospital
    05/23 - Seth MacFarlane's Peacock Comedy Series Ted Rounds Out Cast; Twisted Metal Comedy Series in the Works
    05/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 23, 2022)
    05/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fall Broadcast Network Lineups Out; The CW Looking to Get Back Into Sitcom Business
    05/20 - HBO Renews Barry for Season 4; Apple TV+ Comedy Trying Returns in July; Remembering Maggie Peterson of The Andy Griffith Show
    05/19 - The CW Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Rick and Morty Returns as Anime on Adult Swim
    05/18 - CBS Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Turner Upfront Updates
    05/17 - ABC Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Pete Davidson Comedy Adds Edie Falco
    05/16 - NBC Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Fox Upfront 2022-23: Call Me Kat and Welcome to Flatch Renewed, Adds Two New Animated Comedies and Three New Dramas
    05/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 16, 2022)
    05/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Looking at Fall Renewals and Cancellations; Married... with Children Animated Reboot in the Works
    05/13 - NBC Renews 3 Sitcoms, Cancels 2; CBS and The CW Hand Out Orders & Pink Slips; Remembering Mike Hagerty and Sitcom Producer/Writer George Yanok
    05/12 - NBC Orders Lopez vs. Lopez Sitcom for 2022-23 Season; Amazon Renews Upload for Season 3
    05/11 - Disney's Bunk'd Returns June 10 for Season 6; Paramount+ to Be Exclusive SVOD Home of Ghosts
    05/10 - MeTV Network Adds The A-Team for The Summer of Me; HBO Max Renews Two Comedies for Season 2
    05/09 - Never Have I Ever Season 3 Premieres August 12; Netflix's The Upshaws Return in June
    05/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 9, 2022)
    05/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Saved by the Bell Reboot Canceled; Quantum Leap Reboot Picked Up at NBC
    05/06 - Hulu Comedy Maggie Gets Premiere Date; Chad Returns July 11 on TBS, While HBO Max Series Get Second Runs on TBS and TNT; Remembering David Birney of Bridget Loves Bernie
    05/05 - Freeform Summer 2022 Schedule; The Waltons Return to The CW This Holiday Season
    05/04 - Netflix Orders No Good Deed, from Dead to Me Creator; Cristela Alonzo Returns for New Comedy Special
    05/03 - That '70s Show Cast to Reunite on That '90s Show; Teri Hatcher and James Denton Reunite Again
    05/02 - Antenna TV's Always Mother's Day Marathon; The Real Celebrates Mother's Day with Classic TV Guests
    05/01 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 2, 2022)
    04/30 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The Conners Close to Season Five Renewal; James Corden Leaving The Late Late Show
    04/29 - Fri-Yay: Netflix's Struggles Create Question for the Future of Television; Hulu Acquires Schitt's Creek
    04/28 - Starz Comedy Run the World Returns with More Stars; HBO Max Orders Spin-off of Harley Quinn Animated Comedy Series
    04/27 - Freeform Orders Single Drunk Female Season 2 & New Series While You Were Breeding; Peacock Brings Back Wolf Like Me
    04/26 - The Orville Returns for Season 3 After 3 Year Hiatus; Fox Announces More Stars for Fantasy Island Season 2
    04/25 - Abbott Elementary Finale Hits Multi-Platform Highs; Arnold Schwarzenegger Netflix Series Announces Cast