The Neighbors Series Premiere Review: Close Encounters of the Turd Kind

The Neighbors S01E01: "Pilot"

Here's a good litmus test to determine whether you will like ABC's new comedy The Neighbors: First, consider the concept: a regular human family moves into a gated community that’s exclusively occupied by aliens disguised as humans. Then imagine the chasm of cultural differences between a regular Joe Jersey family and aliens that learned about human society from 1950s sitcoms and Sports Illustrated. Finally, add alpacas, way too much pie, and buckets of green ooze. Did you laugh? It's okay, we once did, too.

But here's the real test: Repeat that concept over and over for 30 minutes. Are you still laughing? How about if you imagine that same concept repeated over and over and over and over for an entire season's worth of television. Still laughing? EXACTLY.

The Neighbors is one of those high-concept (What if we like totally lived next door to aliens, dude?) comedies that's too scared to go beyond its original premise because it feels naked without it. This is a show about humans that live next door to aliens, and that's all it is. Ninety-nine percent of the jokes in the show are some spin on "Humans are from Earth, Aliens are from wherever the heck they're from," creating an atmosphere of softcore racism where our inner bigot can feel comfortable making fun of others. In this case there's no watchdog group screaming for aliens rights, though. However, I wouldn't be surprised if that meddling PETA (or PET-ETs, har) stepped up with complaints.

One larger problem for The Neighbors is that it ignores a fairly basic rule of comedy: have funny people on the show. Jami Gertz, who was more comical as a brooding vampire slut in The Lost Boys, is the biggest name in a cast that I think was assembled on a first-come-first-cast basis. There's a chance that Simon Templeman, who plays the alien leader Larry Bird (ha! Sports names!), will be able to muster up a few laughs, and Wilt's youngest kid is weird enough to draw your attention, but everyone else's comedic chops fail to go beyond their costumes and goofy grins. The Neighbors is filled with anti-acting, most of which involves standing still and erect with their arms by their side in a lazy effort to define these lame aliens as clueless visitors, even though they've been here for a decade. Compare that to the also-weird Thermians of Galaxy Quest, extra-terrestrials that also had trouble fitting in with humans but still managed to pull of individual personalities. That was funny. But that also had Enrico Colantoni, Missy Pyle, and Rainn Wilson.

With all that said, it would be premature to completely write the show off, as there's satirical territory to explore; I'll be sticking with The Neighbors for at least four episodes, and I'll let you know if it gets better. The idea of aliens living on human terms and reflecting on our own behavior has potential to be hilarious and insightful. But as of the first two episodes, that planet is light years away.



NOTES

– It's important to distinguish betweenthis from other bad comedies out there, because The Neighbors at least deserves credit for not being entirely terrible. Compared to last season's Work It, which put men in women's clothes and probably resulted in many lonely nights on the couch for its creators after nuking women's rights back to prehistoric times, The Neighbors is entirely unoffensive. So it's got that going for it. Despite what others have said, it's not even the worst new comedy of the season (Guys With Kids, Partners, and Malibu Country are far worse).

– This show does get points for casting for diversity, as most of the human flavors are represented here.

– Who ok'd the athlete name joke? And then who ok'd the constant giggling at the name "Dick Butkus" joke? Both of those people should have their comedy cards shamefully burned in the middle of Times Square.

– The show's one-trick humor was obviously going to be run into the ground like a UFO in Area 51 (YES I JUST MADE THAT "JOKE") in the pilot, but I'm sorry to report that the trend continues in Episdoe 2, when the humans and aliens go to the mall. Of course the dad alien gets naked. Sorry for the spoiler.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (40)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Mork, Alf, Uncle Martin and the guys from 3rd Rock are rolling in their tombs.
Reply
Flag
While the show isn't one of the best Ive ever seen, whats with the review Tim Surette. "creating an atmosphere of softcore racism where our inner bigot can feel comfortable making fun of others." SERIOUSLY. Has mankind gone so PC that a little fun is now called "sofecore racism" Dude you need to get laid.
1
Reply
Flag
I liked it, ok its not the best, but it was silly fun and there is a lot worse on at the moment.
Reply
Flag
i don't know if i really like this show but i do know that it's better that this was made than just another family sitcom where the entire neighborhood isn't made up of aliens.
Reply
Flag
I do not understand how you can even try and give this show any credit. My eyes are still bleeding from this mess, heads should roll over at abc. And to placed in the Wednesday comedy block over happy endings and don't trust the b seriously have they gone off their meds. Axe this NOW
Reply
Flag
Hey, listen, if 2 Girls, New Girl, B85ch, etc, can find a niche, then Neighbors can!
1
Reply
Flag
How did this get made? I was mildly amused once during the show and I can't even remember what it was now. I like Jamie Gertz, so I hope she can find another decent show to star in after this one gets cancelled.
Reply
Flag
Galaxy Quest!



Ok, although the premiere was a bit forced (but many premieres are), I still enjoyed it overall, and laughed a few times. I hardly ever laugh at Modern Family, and couldn't stand New Girl. We all have different tastes in comedy. I hope they smooth out soon though, since many others didn't care for it.
Reply
Flag
People who love this show loved Work It.
Reply
Flag
Really, racism? Sounds more like "speciesism," don't you think?
1
Reply
Flag
I liked in 3rd Rock From the Sun when the aliens actually had personalities.
1
Reply
Flag
The sports name joke sounds like a riff off the "John Smallberries" joke from Buckaroo Banzai.



I will be giving this a pass because it just feels like a show destined for cancellation, I wanted to like the concept but it just looks flat.
Reply
Flag
I smiled (once or twice) but did not laugh through the entire thing. This has been on my deadpool since I initially filled it out. Hopefully, Nielsen viewers feel the same.
1
Reply
Flag
So when you're writing a comment, any time you hit 'enter' you're going to leave a space. Even if you don't see a space between your paragraphs when you're writing it, it will be there when you post. So you don't need to hit 'enter' twice to leave one space.

You're welcome.
Reply
Flag
Tim Surette continues to write the worst reviews I've ever read based on 0 fact. He writes as if he has seen 3 seasons worth of episodes when in reality he probably sat half drunk on his couch last night writing this.



The "normal" family leaves something to be desired I admitt, but the actors who play Larry Bird and his wife and the kids are fantastic. I was laughing less than 1 minute into the show, and felt good about the whole episode.



Can't take anything Tim writes seriously anymore, he's condemned pretty much every new show that he has "reviewed" so far.
1
Reply
Flag
I agree. I was pleasantly entertained by the pilot
1
Reply
Flag
Could not disagree more. This show is fresh and funny. I will put the writer of this article on my list of people, whose opinion on TV shows not to listen to. Thanks for the heads up.
1
Reply
Flag
First of all, I saw the show and the main problem was a lack of continuity. The aliens seem to at least have an average IQ, yet 10 years into living on earth and they still don't know how to shake hands? Or wash dishes? Yes, they supposedly live only around other aliens, but they've never left the house? We know they watch TV, yet they haven't learned from TV how to shake hands? Also, how do they eat if they throw away their dishes? I assume they go to the store to buy new ones, where they would encounter...other humans. There is a major logic gap that I'm sure will only widen as the season goes on. Still, it has potential and was an improvement over that Ben and Kate show.



Secondly, the writer of rhis article needs to chill on the righteous, over-political, uber-tolerant-unless-you're-a-conservative attitude. (I'm not a conservative, but I don't think I'm better or more enlightened than them either.) This show is racist? You're the one who pointed out the diversity, which in and off itself culd be seen as racist. Who cares what race each person on the show is. This is a TV website. No one cares about your political conscience. Leave that up to CNN and MSNBC to discuss. This isn't the forum. This is the only time I've read something from you and I can already tell that your rhetoric does nothing to close the divide in this country--you do nothing but make you feel better about yourself when you take a non-issue and over-saturate your holier-than-thou attitude onto your audience.
More+
1
Reply
Flag
I don't believe you actually paid attention to the show. They do not eat. While they were having dinner with the new neighbors they weren't eating!!! Also, I don't believe they leave. That was the whole point of them buying and moving into a new development, which only the aliens lived in the whole time.
1
Reply
Flag
You know, being totally and disgustingly crude is not funny, either. Your lead line was completely uncalled for, and displays your lack of good taste and good sense. Go back

to bagging groceries or parking cars or whatever you might be good at doing, if anything

at all. By the way, the show was not all that bad; spotty in some parts, but laugh out loud in others. Get a grip...

Reply
Flag
Obviously one of the show's writers.
Reply
Flag
There's a show on the CW right now called "Oh Sit!" and you're outraged over this article's title?
Reply
Flag
another program with promise that makes me wish more American programming was like that of the UK when a series is only eight-episode long--with a set narrative arc.
Reply
Flag
I miss Bent.
Reply
Flag
Sigh. I laughed. Several times. While the concept likely isn't sustainable like Tim said, it will be funny until it gets old. I don't know how long it will take.
Reply
Flag
Awful, just plain awful! Didn't like Partners, but this was way worse!
Reply
Flag
Nah, Partners was definitely worse than this. This was pretty poor, but Partners was just plain terrible.



I'm ashamed to say I did actually laugh at "Oh dear, I fear our little Dick may have exposed himself again." line.
Reply
Flag
Bet you wanted this to flop just so you could use that title!
Reply
Flag
Thx. I updated my Dead Pool listing. One disagreement though: this may be just as bad as Work It.
Reply
Flag
Nope. Work it was way worse.
Reply
Flag
I liked the series and thought it was funny. Not crazy funny but funny. It has potential. I think the review was a bit harsh about the comedic timing of the actors though. However I agree that the alien schtick while not annoying me quite yet has the potential to do so. I will give it a couple of episodes that will be the true test.
Reply
Flag
You know what I did after I watched the Middle & Modern Family instead of watching this POS? I made a pita pepperoni pizza & it was delicious. Watching that cheese melt in the oven sounds better than this show.
Reply
Flag
Wow, I really wanted to like this, but I think this is really, really bad. And the fact it's a sitcom and things are forced to happen one on top of the other condensed in 21 minutes, makes it even worse. It reminded me of some bad cartoon. Oh, boy...
Reply
Flag
IGN gave it a 1/10 and judging from what he said I would guess he would give it a three or four. Which I find weird because Tim's usually pretty harsh, I guess this just goes to show exactly how utterly horrible IGN reviews are.
Reply
Flag
I liked it. The jokes weren't all that good but was still ok.
Reply
Flag
I heard this was awful, so I decided to tune in hoping that it would be the funny kind of awful. By the first commercial break I knew it was time to sort my life out.
Reply
Flag
I haven't seen this pilot yet, so I'm yet to form a final opinion. But I have to say I'm intrigued by the premise. So many American comedies rely on the same idea (exploring the lives of people in their late 20s/early 30s dating). So, in one comedy you have a character named Mindy who learned everything about love from rom-coms. And in another a character named Jess cries at Dirty Dancing... It's hard to find a comedy if you're not into that kind of thing. So, I'm willing to give The Neighbors a vote of confidence.
Reply
Flag
I won't lie. I kinda liked it. I'm always down with the aliens being human premise. Loved 3rd Rock. Being surprised by some new shows.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook