Ahhhh, late April and early May: That time of year when networks trickle out the last few shows that never made their way onto the schedule. It isn't an enviable position to be in, as many of these shows are considered throwaways and their chances of surviving to see next season are low (Don't Trust the B---- and Scandal being recent exceptions). The final network series to debut as part of the 2012-2013 season is ABC's Family Tools, a comedy that takes over for Suburgatory, but is it any good? Or is there a reason it's debuting IN MAY? I've seen two episodes and I'm here to answer the questions I made up for you in the latest edition of "Hey TV.com But More Specifically Tim Because He's Writing This, Should I Watch [X]?"
Family Tools? Well that sounds hilarious. What is it?
Ever see the British comedy White Man Van? Well, it's that, but with a whole lot of America slapped on it. The premise sees flaky son Jack (Kyle Bornheimer) taking over the family handyman business from his stubborn father Tony (J.K. Simmons) after Tony has a heart attack. Tony's sister Terry (Leah Remini) is set on making sure Tony gets enough rest, Tony's troublemaking assistant Darren (Edi Gathegi) is set on making Jack's life hell, and Jack's teenage cousin Darren is just weird. Pretty simple stuff. It's an ensemble comedy about family and the changing of the guard as one generation passes the torch to the next.
Who's behind the show?
Adrian Poynton created White Man Van, and Bobby Bowman (My Name is Earl, Raising Hope) is handling the American adaptation. Other producers on the project include Joshua Sternin and J.R. Ventimilia, who both worked on That '70s Show, and for some reason super-producer Mark Gordon, who usually dabbles in dramas like Grey's Anatomy and Criminal Minds.
What's the premiere date for Family Tools?
This dysfunctional family comedy starts Wednesday, May 1 at 8:30pm on NBC. The show was originally planned as a midseason series that got held back, and now it faces the difficult task of building an audience late in the game (prime example of its datedness: the inclusion of Michael Franti's "Say Hey" in an early episode). Its initial 13-episode order was also cut down to 10 due to scheduling difficulties. In other words, good luck, Family Tools.
Who's going to like Family Tools?
Bowman's previous work on My Name is Earl and Raising Hope has a strong influence here, and fans of those shows will find something very familiar in Family Tools. I'm talking about family members who are shouting at each other one moment and then hugging each other the next, plus there's a whole lotta rooting for the underdog. The humor veers more toward comfortable and silly than cerebral.
What does Family Tools nail?
This show has heart! Like, at the end of each episode it will try to stir up some fuzzy feelings inside of you as all the dysfunction disappears at just the right moment to remind us how important family is and all that. There are some decent goofy sight gags, and after a rough start, the pilot finishes strong—which hopefully foretells what the show can be in the future. Plus, Adam Arkin has a great cameo as the family's annoying neighbor.
What does Family Tools screw up?
Look, there's nothing new going on here. This is a single-camera sitcom about a dysfunctional family full of regular people—you know, people like you 'n me and not those fancy tie-wearing business types with 401ks. I'd call the humor more decent than outright bad, just good enough to keep you around but not good enough to where you lose track of your remote control. None of the cast members or characters stand out, as they all seem cut from the same drop cloth, and the storylines are mostly retreads of well-worn comedy scenarios.
Well, should I watch it or not?
Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... this one's right in the middle. It does some stuff fine, and other stuff not so fine. It's got a good heart in the middle of it, but also a lot of predictable comedy. I'd give it a shot if you're a huge fan of Raising Hope but skip it in almost all other scenarios, as this stands little chance of lasting into next year.
Can I see a trailer?
Why yes you can.
What's a good drink to have while watching Family Tools?
Cheap, light domestic beer... the nectar of the working-class man! Also, its bland taste reflects the show's decent quality. You won't get buzzed, but you could do worse. Sometimes all you need is a Budweiser, you know?
Family Tools premieres Wednesday, May 1 at 8:30pm on ABC.