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Saturday, March 29, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: Surviving Jack


Starring: Christopher Meloni, Rachael Harris, Connor Buckley, Claudia Lee, Tyler Foden, Kevin Hernandez

Inspired by the Book "I Suck at Girls" by Justin Halpern
Created by Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker
Written by Justin Halpern & Patrick Schumacker, Directed by Victor Nelli Jr.

Surviving Jack is a new family sitcom set in 1991 in Southern California. Jack Dunlevy (Christopher Meloni) is an ex-military man and doctor who is scaling back his hours at work so his wife Joanne (Rachael Harris) can go to law school. Gruff Jack is taking on more responsibility with his two teenage kids: awkward and hormonal Frankie (Connor Buckley) and rebellious Rachel (Claudia Lee). Rounding out the main cast are Frankie's two friends Mikeya and George (Tyler Foden and Kevin Hernandez)

THE GOOD: First of all, I love the 1990s setting! This is the first sitcom I've seen set in the 1990s from a nostalgic/historical perspective. The soundtrack and look to the show were fun in an era that's seeming more and more dated by the day. Christopher Meloni is funny as the dad and got better as the episode went along. At first, he seemed a little too gruff and too much of a caricature but the slightly softer moments he had played better and were funnier. Connor Buckley is strong as the gangly, awkward freshman in high school and the dynamics between him and Meloni seem authentic. Overall, it was a solid start to a fun family sitcom.

THE BAD: There have been SO many family sitcoms this year that they are starting to run together because so many of them have had some sort of combination of awkward teen boy or rebellious teen daughter (Mom, The Michael J. Fox Show, Sean Saves the World, The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife, Growing Up Fisher). I feel like people who write family sitcoms need to broaden the stereotypes a little bit and stay a little more grounded in reality. Some of the early lines from Meloni seemed a little fake like they were unnecessarily playing up the "gruff dad" approach.

BOTTOM LINE: Despite the stereotypes - as far as family sitcoms go, Surviving Jack did not seem quite as enjoyable as The Goldbergs but more so than the others. The dynamic between Meloni and Buckley is at the heart of this show and the realness of it means this show has promise. It didn't get great ratings but I'm going to enjoy it while I can. Keep the 90s music coming!!

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