September 27, 2012

TV: The Neighbors (ABC, Wed 8:30)

The Neighbors has gotten a lot of very bad critical buzz, with the general consensus being that it is the year's worst new sitcom. So I went in with rather low expectations. But damn if I didn't laugh.

It's the story of Debbie and Marty Weaver (Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito), who move into a New Jersey gated community to find that all of their neighbors are aliens from the planet Zabvron who have been stranded here for ten years.

All of the Zabvronians have adopted the names of human athletes ("in tribute to your finest physical specimens"), and the Weavers' next-door neighbors are Larry Bird (Simon Templeman), the community's leader, and his wife Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye). (Their kids are Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus.)

The Neighbors has a quality that is rare on TV these days: It is unabashedly, proudly silly. Templeman and Olagundoye throw themselves into their roles with abandon, embracing the stilted language that is English, Zabvronian style, and having great fun with awkward body language.

Is it a great sitcom? No, far from it, and it's entirely possile that the reason we don't see much silly on TV is that silly doesn't sustain well over multiple weeks. But we've already seen at least one worse sitcom debut this year (that would be Guys With Kids), and I thought The Neighbors was a weirdly charming little surprise.

No comments: