Wednesday, January 09, 2019

CBS Mid-Season Pilot Review: Fam - Premieres Thursday (Jan. 10); ABC Schedules Bless This Mess for April 16 Premiere

Fam

Fam - Thursdays at 9:30PM ET/PT on CBS
Premieres Thursday, January 10, 2019 at 9:30PM ET/PT


by Skees

Nick has just proposed to Clem, and everything is going to go just as planned, since she doesn't even have to worry about her family ruining the wedding. Or does she? As Nick is about to find out, not only does she have a family that she would rather he not know about, but he's about to get a lot closer to this family as Clem's 16 year old half-sister, a high school dropout who needs a mother, finds a mother in her own sister.

Cast Details:

Nina Dobrev as Clem
Tone Bell as Nick
Odessa Adlon as Shannon
Sheryl Lee Ralph as Rose
Brian Stokes Mitchell as Walt

Nina Dobrev (Clem) is known for her role on The Vampire Diaries, as well as Degrassi: The Next Generation. She has had guest roles in Workaholics, Family Guy, and other series.

Tone Bell (Nick) is making his fifth attempt in a regular role on a sitcom, having previously had regular roles on Whitney, Bad Judge, Truth Be Told, and Disjointed. He is also a standup comedian, and has had guest roles on series such as Key & Peele and 9JKL.

Odessa Adlon (Shannon) is the daughter of actress Pamela Adlon, and has appeared in episodes of Nashville.

Sheryl Lee Ralph (Rose) has a long career in television that goes back to an episode of Good Times, but she has had regular roles in It's a Living, Moesha, and Instant Mom. She also played Anthony's wife Etienne on Designing Women and is known for her role in Dreamgirls.

Brian Stokes Mitchell (Walt) is mostly known for a career on Broadway and in cartoon voices, but he was also a regular on Trapper John, MD, and known for his short recurring role of Trevor on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs January 10 at 9:30PM ET)

Nick has just proposed to Clem, and they're looking forward to a life of marital bliss. But they aren't going to be alone, as they deal with parents, in-laws, and one big unexpected surprise: Clem's 16 year old sister.

"Freddy Returns" (Airs January 17 at 9:30PM ET)

Nick and Clem are putting together the wedding invitations when Rose notices that Clem doesn't plan to invite her own father, and Rose wants to see to it that he is included in the wedding. Meanwhile, back at home, Clem wants to teach Shannon about responsibility.

Analysis:

A 16 year old girl moves in with her older sister. Where have I seen this before? Oh yes, the 80s sitcom My Sister Sam. But if you liked (or even remember, it's become fairly obscure) that show, don't get too excited. This isn't My Sister Sam by any means. I don't necessarily mean that in a good or bad way, though. It's just much different from that show. This isn't just about two sisters living together, as the older sister has a fiancé who takes more of a starring role. We've also got parents and in-laws here, although it's not clear how often we'll see Gary Cole's character. And of course, it's got that whole CBS "laugh track on steroids" vibe going on, which I can deal with, even if it is annoying.

I think my biggest problem with this series is that it's just too bland. The writing is OK, but it's not enough to make great storylines. It's not particularly funny at all, as I was waiting for one--just one!-- laugh out loud moment, yet I didn't quite find it. I'm fine with sitcoms not being particularly funny, but solid writing is needed to make up for that. Another problem that this show suffers from is that it is yet another "couples" type of series. Sometimes, these series work very well, particularly with The Carmichael Show (a show that had way too short of a life, even at three seasons), but usually they come up lacking in some way or another.

On one positive note, like seemingly every relationship comedy out there, the casting of the Nick's parents seems to be done very well and there seems to be some potential with these characters. It'll be interesting to see how these characters play out as the series progresses, even if it's only a one season wonder.

From what I've seen in these first few episodes, the aspect of the interracial relationship seems to be completely ignored. Of course, this isn't like the days of Tom and Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, and the idea is much more common and not even remotely controversial anymore. It's surprising that there isn't really any mention of it, but at the same time, perhaps that being ignored is a sign of positive progress.

Conclusion:

This series definitely qualifies as what one would call mid-season filler. It's not completely unwatchable and it is better than a third airing of an episode of one of the bigger "hits." However, at the same time, it's a show that strikes me as one that will quietly make it through however many episodes were produced, disappear, and nobody will even remember that it existed. It's a sort of dull and uneventful sitcom that you would watch because you're watching Mom (on linear TV, for those who still watch primetime shows that way), and this comes on immediately afterward. I don't see this as something that'll be back next season, but if you want to see something different for a few months, then sure, watch this.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

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

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, January 10, 2019 at 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • CBS.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Fam Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • Bless This Mess - Lake Bell and Dax Shepard

    The ABC Television Network will premiere the new single-camera comedy Bless This Mess on Tuesday, April 16 at 9:30 p.m. EDT. Please note, the season finale of Splitting Up Together airs the week prior on Tuesday, April 9 at 9:30 p.m. EDT. This new single-camera comedy follows newlyweds Rio and Mike as they make the decision to move from big city New York to rural Nebraska. After dropping everything (including their jobs and overbearing mother-in-law) to make the move from skyscrapers to farmhouses, they soon realize that the simpler life isn't as easy as they planned. Rio and Mike must now learn how to weather the storm as they are faced with unexpected challenges in their new life as farmers. The series stars Lake Bell as Rio, Dax Shepard as Mike, Ed Begley Jr. as Rudy, Pam Grier as Constance and JT Neal as Jacob. The series is from 20th Century Fox Television and ABC Studios. Lake Bell and Elizabeth Meriwether are co-creators and executive producers. Jake Kasdan, Melvin Mar, Erin O'Malley, Katherine Pope and Dax Shepard serve as executive producers.


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    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 20)

    Friday, January 24

    • Penn Badgley (Do Over) - Watch Penn on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Larry appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
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    • The Cast of Indebted - Abby Elliot, Jessy Hodges and Adam Pally are guests on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
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    • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff appears on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
    • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/Cafe Americain/One Day at a Time) - Valerie will be on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
    • Vivica A. Fox (Mr. Box Office/Getting Personal/Out All Night) - Vivica is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.


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