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Thursday, October 3, 2013

PILOT REVIEW: Welcome to the Family


Starring: Mike O'Malley, Mary McCormack, Justina Machado, Ella Rae Peck, Joseph Haro, Aramis Knight, and Ricardo A. Chavira

Created by Mike Sikowitz
Written by Mike Sikowitz, Directed by Michael Engler

Welcome to the Family is a new blended family comedy surrounding a teen pregnancy. Molly Yoder (Ella Rae Peck) has just squeaked by and graduated high school with plans to attend party school Arizona State. Her parents Dan and Caroline (Mike O'Malley and Mary McCormack) are thrilled to have her leaving the house so they can experience a "renaissance" in their relationship. Junior Hernandez (Joseph Haro) is a bright boy named valedictorian and headed to Stanford much to the pride of his parents Miguel and Lisette (Ricardo A. Chavira and Justina Machado). However, Molly and Junior are dating and Molly gets pregnant and the two decide to get married to the shock of all four parents. Adding to the problems is a bad encounter from a few days prior between Dan and Miguel not to mention the culture clash between the white and Latino families.

THE GOOD: I think there's a good setup for a series here and there are some good performers. The two families were well defined in the opening minutes (which was actually the best part of the entire episode). I think the structure of this series was set up well in the premise and throughout the pilot. There were a few good lines too but then they overdid a few of them, which I'll get to below. There were a lot of things I didn't love about the pilot yet I still think this show has promise because it's not un-funny and the characters are at least somewhat interesting. Like many sitcoms, it has some kinks to iron out.

THE BAD: I felt like the biggest problem in this pilot was the overacting. The gestures were giant and fakey by most characters. There were two many lines that seemed to be set ups to jokes. Mike O'Malley, who is typically enjoyable, seemed to be trying too hard in most of the episode. The show also had a problem of running jokes into the ground. When Molly mixed up "patriotic" and "patriarchal" early in the episode, it was funny. When she did it later, this time with "parochial," it was an eye-roller. Speaking of Molly, they also way overplayed her irresponsibility to the point that I wanted to yell WE GET IT by the end of the episode. That's an example of lazy writing - resorting to the same few jokes again and again.

BOTTOM LINE: I thought Welcome to the Family started pretty strong but got weaker as the episode went on, which is unusual for a sitcom pilot. Despite that, I still feel like this show is another promising comedy in a year that's full of them. It just has more issues to work through. Let's see if NBC gives it time...

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