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CBS (ended 2014)

The Millers S01E01: "Pilot"

When The Millers was announced earlier this year, it came with a mixture of emotions. Will Arnett! Yay! Multi-camera comedy! Boo! Margo Martindale! Yay! Another parents moving back in with their kids setup! Boo! Creator Greg Garcia! Yay! Laugh track! Boo! In case you couldn't tell from that back and forth of cheers and jeers, the cast and crew involved in The Millers had us excited, but the dated premise and track record of the format left us worried. 

Things haven't changed much after viewing the pilot episode, and The Millers is reasonably mediocre for it. I'd call that a win, though, given the heaps of turds that the networks have churned out so far. The Millers isn't great, but it's a lot better than the atrocities that are Super Fun NightWe Are MenDadsWelcome to the Familyand Sean Saves the World. If I hadn't suffered through previewing and reviewing those over the last two weeks, I might have taken The Millers a notch down, but with Sean Hayes getting his in the face with a bag of chicken as comparison, The Millers is totally okay!

A lot of the pull towards okay comes from The Millers' stellar cast. Will Arnett plays Nathan, a local news field reporter keeping his divorce a secret from his parents. Margo Martindale gives comedy a go–after a pair of excellent turns on Justified and The Americans–as Nathan's mom Carol. Beau Bridges plays Nathan's oblivious dad Tom, Jayma Mays plays his sister Debbie, Nelson Franklin plays Debbie's husband Adam, and JB Smoove plays Nathan's cameraman and buddy Ray. Top that off with My Name is Earl and Raising Hope creator Greg Garcia at the helm and wow! You've got yourself a fantastic group to make a television show!

But then you've got the premise, and it all felt a bit tired and beneath several of these stars who have been part of really cutting-edge stuff. During a visit from Carol and Tom, Nathan revealed that he got a divorce, and that empowered Tom to ask for his own divorce after 43 years of marriage and *boom* The Millers became fairly stock. Naturally, Tom decided to live with Debbie and Adam, and Carol stayed put at Nathan's making The Millers another show where parents moving in with their kids became the flint that sparked the comedy flame. 

The Millers is also a CBS multi-camera comedy with a laugh track and all, which usually means that people like me will automatically deduct points. Yes, I'm guilty of multi-camera comedy bigotry, but it's based on experience and recent years have not been kind to that genre. However, I'm about to admit something I probably shouldn't but whatever, no one will read this and I can pretend it didn't happen. Here we go: I did not hate Everybody Loves Raymond! And that show was a multi-camera family comedy with a laugh track and all. The Millers reminds me of Everybody Loves Raymond because it has all the same pieces. They both have great casts, loving families that work behind a wall of insults, and uhhh, a great cast again. Obviously The Millers didn't match the standards of Everybody Loves Raymond after just the pilot, but I see a similar quality ceiling for The Millers if everything goes its way. Of course if they don't, The Millers could be just as bad as the comedies listed way above.

I wouldn't say the humor of The Millers is great, but it didn't make me bang my head against the wall in an effort to gain temporary amnesia, either. I liked Jeff Bridges as the incompetent Tom (his character is almost identical to Raymond's Frank, played by Peter Boyle) who shows resignation to not understanding the modern technology of remote controls yet still had the strength and determination to get a divorce because he thought it would make him happy. And there were some short absurd moments that worked well, like when Carol, doped up on sleeping pills, grabbed a spatula to eat ice cream (though the potency of that visual joke withered away when they talked about it). Or when Nathan was on an assignment and asked the kid if he had learned his lesson after being publicly shamed into wearing a sign that said he had a potty mouth, and the kid responded with a mouthful of expletives. Not great, but not terrible either! At least they weren't lazy sex jokes!

But then there were also lazy sex jokes. And the much talked-about string of fart jokes from Emmy-winner Margo Martindale. I think the fart jokes were softened up a bit from the original pilot, but though they remained, there's something less stupid about flatulence humor when it comes from Martindale and Arnett. It smells a little bit better. And that's what elevated The Millers above a lot of its competition.

So yeah, The Millers has that sweet cast that makes everything more palatable and some elements that even they can't save, but overall, it's not the disaster it could have been. At its best, it could be another Everybody Loves Raymond. At worst, we watch the Best of Gob YouTube videos to forget it ever happened. After the pilot, The Millers sits somewhere between.

What did YOU think of The Millers?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 7/18/2015

Season 2 : Episode 11

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'I liked Jeff Bridges as the incompetent Tom' - maybe edit that to Beau.
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Love the cast of this show and while it didn't immediately tick a must see box it did make me snigger once - which is always a hopeful sign for any comedy pilot - and makes it worth a few episodes to see how it shapes up. I was not one of those people who loved Raymond and if it goes that way I will be out Will/Beau/Margo notwithstanding.
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So I ended up watching this and suffering through every minute. Arnett and Martindale are utterly wasted here and don't really have the right feel for multi-camera format sitcoms, they feel like they're bored and treading water. Jayma Mays' character and her husband feel entirely superfluous and dull. JB Smoove's character is generic and given nothing funny to do. And the premise feels constricting and lame and more than a bit contrived. Ultimately, I wouldn't want to watch this again, and I cannot imagine too many others would either, there's very little offered in the setup and the writing to draw viewers in. It's an utter waste of talents.
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I loved the pilot and this is from someone seldom watch comedies and sitcoms. Perhaps because I am have not watch tons of Modern Family, I found this one quite nice. I have watched the trailer and already saw some of the jokes. Yet it did made me laugh once again when I was watching this.

I absolutely loved Margo Martindale. That woman proved she could do anything. I just hoped she will be back in The Americans. She is probably the most hardworking elderly lady on TV !

I have skipped Super Fun Night, We Are Men, Dads, and Sean Saves the World.

I have watched Michael J Fox Show, Moms, Trophy wife, the crazy ones and The Millers. So far all of them did enough for me to continue watching. I enjoyed The Millers the most.
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Definitely not good, not funny, not well written, but well acted. My DVR cried.
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i dvr this and kept skiping forward
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Nah, not watching. But I do have a question. What is the hatred for multi-camera comedies. I don't want to see everything shot like the Dunder Mifflin documentary.
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I will give it a go because of Margo Martindale.
I loved her in The Riches, Justified & The Americans so I will trust her judgment on this too.
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I haven't watched it yet, it's sitting on my DVR waiting for me to decide. Honestly, this review doesn't tempt me, there's a lot of "let's make a meal out of garbage from the fancy restaurant" about this review. IGN's review of the aired pilot was brutal, a 2.5, so I am tempted to delete without viewing.

Everybody Loves Raymond worked from the outset where this does not, and the reason seems to be the driving forces behind each - Ray Romano and an incredibly talented creative staff drove his show to a specific vision from the start; while The Millers seems to be a network vehicle with no passion or vision driving it at all, just throw Greg Garcia at it and hope it sticks. The Millers just seems like throwing money and talent willy nilly at a problem and hoping for the best, no integrity ultimately produces nothing worthwhile.
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What a recommendation from Tim: It sucks less than the other comedies this season :-)
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Can anyone tell me when the Dead Pool starts? I have a few contestants (looking at you 'Dads' and 'Betrayal')

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I think if this show survives, it's only because of the great cast. The whole family fits together so well and they're comfortable with each other, that's a huge plus. The jokes were not laugh-out-loud funny but Margo Martindale worked for me. It'll give it the four episode test.
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This is basically exactly what I was going to say. I watched it because I love Arnett and Martindale, and it's a sin that JB Smoove and Nelson Franklin haven't had steady gigs. And they're the reason why I'll come back again next week, the show was very meh, but it was meh with fantastic people in it.
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It was okay, I will confess I totally watched it out of laziness as I am one of billions who watch TBBT. I had a whole non DVR watching thing going on last year where after TBBT, I would start watching my recording of the Vampire Diaries then Glee and then POI. I just couldn't bring myself to watch TVD last night...so it sits. Yes, I did get the vibe of Everyone Loves Raymond from it (fortunately or unfortunately I think the showrunners tried to insert some of Raising Hope or My Name is Earl sensibility into it which I think seemed out of place - like that whole farting conversation if say Burt or whoever was the perpetrator, we would smile and maybe chuckle, but it would seem fine). I will give it a chance, I kind of hope that they do run the shows like Everybody Loves Raymond where you might see everyone in an episode, but they might only basically have a drive by scene if the story didn't work. Basically, I want to know that Margo Martindale can either a) go kick ass occasionally as Claudia or b) can appear as Nick's mom every once in awhile.
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I am a sucker for Greg Garcia shows Margo Martindale has been on my radar since Dexter and Justified (terrifying in Justified) and of course Will Arnett.

As with the last few shows Greg Garcia put out, it's slow to start and takes off after a few episodes. I will give it a few more episodes and judge, as with most pilots this year I will give it an "OK"
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Whether a sitcom, or any comedy show for that matter, was filmed using the single- or multi-camera format is irrelevant to whether it's funny or not. Either the writing is smart and the jokes are funny thus it's worth watching or not. What's the shooting technique got to do with it. Friends, Frasier and Seinfeld were all multi-cam shows and they're my favourite sitcoms of all time.
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I guess it was a bit better than I had originally thought. I could have done without the fart jokes -- that felt too Two and a Half Men-y to me. I think Margo Martindale in particular played a bit too much to the audience.
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It's a shame that this show got the timeslot after The Big Bang Theory. The Crazy Ones and Mom are surprisingly better than this show. I love the cast, I love Raising Hope and I have mixed feelings about My Name is Earl. I wanted to like this because I had such low expectations, but I just couldn't. It was recycled jokes with too much canned laughter that became incredibly annoying towards the end.
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Laugh tracks have been around a long---long---time, and the practice is not going anywhere. How about we stop making it an automatic negative? If a show isn't funny, the yes possibly enhanced sounds of the studio audience laughing will not convince viewers it is. In fact the laugh track barely matters if the viewers are laughing themselves. This show has potential (great cast!), and like any new show, I'll give it more than 1-2 episodes before I decide.
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Agreed. No one was criticizing the laugh track during the days of Friends, Seinfeld, The Cosby Show, Will & Grace...
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Laugh track shows are like little plays, those laugh tracks are the audience reactions. Not everybody likes plays, so it makes some sense that not everybody likes laugh track shows. That said, you are totally right that it's a lazy viewer (or in this case, reviewer) who insults a show simply for being produced in the multi-camera format using a laugh track.
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I fully expected to detest this based on all the ads I saw and the generally tired nature of its premise. So I was surprised that I didn't hate it nearly as much as I thought I would. It wasn't great by any stretch but not unwatchable, as I had feared.

I just hope that they can tone down Beau Bridges' volume level a bit. No need to be that loud all the time. And please don't force Margo Martindale to do any more fart jokes. Ever. Actually, let's just put a blanket ban on all fart jokes on all TV shows everywhere in perpetuity. Okay, maybe let Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon do a few now and then, but no one older than 13 should ever need to be subjected to those anymore. I really wonder about adults who think that sort of thing is genuinely funny.

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One of the supporting actresses in this show cannot officially join in when she her previous role in her previous show is tied a knot to other character in her previous show. This show won't last if this situation resumes.
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Jayma Mays? I'm pretty sure she's doing both (as is Vanessa Lengies). It's not like she's in more than four episodes a year on Glee anyways.
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But it looks like both Jayma and Matthew are leaving Glee after season 5 because I heard Matthew's role is transferring to Washington DC right after the fifth season ends. Vanessa's role is leaving Glee right after its 100th episode.
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A great cast in a mediocre(at best) show.
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i was eating breakfast when i was watching this.. it was really hard to keep the food down. Some of the jokes were really gross but the cast is very good

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oh sweet goddess, i was dying. I really liked it and the love the cast.
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Maybe if showrunners made decent comedies they wouldn't need a laugh track. I really get annoyed by those... Seriously, if it's funny I'll laugh without a laugh track.

On a positive side: Will Arnett and a good cast.

Negatives I would have to say: What's with all the parents moving in with their kids thing and them being total obnoxious assholes while doing so? It's pathetic...

And also please raise the quality of the jokes, it's way too simple now. The newly introduced fall comedies make me miss Don't Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23 and Happy Endings all that much more...
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A laugh track isn't there to convince you to laugh, it's part of the multi-camera format, it's part of the way the actors and creative staff feed off live audience reaction, it's like a play in that regard. Actors new to sitcoms constantly talk about feeding off the live audiences to give their performances, little pauses, playing up jokes, glances and eye-rolls, all those sorts of things that play up the comedy can be in response to audience reactions - laughs, gasps, cheers - and if the studio didn't include the laugh track, it'd leave the home audience confused as to why there was that pause while the actor waits for the live audience to finish reacting. In that way, the audience reaction is passively a part of the performance.

Man, I've been seeing a lot of this same short-sighted negativity on the site lately.
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It's part of the process blabla... short-sighted or not, it's my opinion... laugh tracks are annoying as hell.

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You are entitled to feel that laugh tracks annoy you. The argument that they are only put in to force laughs though, that is not a fair extension.
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The "has potential" tag is more encouraging than it sounds. The same is being said of the Michael J. Fox show and I was already hooked on to that show 10 minutes in - of course, that one's very self aware and doesn't have a laugh track.
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I have to say I was supremely disappointed to see The MJF Show already resorting to the extremely overworked talk-to-the-offscreen-interviewers schtick. After Modern Family, The Office and Parks & Rec, do we really need to see yet another show do this?
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Yeah, it needs work. But the characters are great, and more often than not it's that aspect that decides whether I'll continue to watch a show or not. It might get old after a season, which is around when I stopped watching Modern Family.
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Seriously. At least it feels authentic on Modern Family and The Office, it just felt really forced on The MJF Show.
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I agree, the MJF show was a bit of a let down. I felt they were pushing to hard on his condition (I wasn't uncomfortable at all, just sick of the same joke every minute).

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It was funny, but not great. It has potential. I hope the network will leave it alone and let it find itself.
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To be honest, the pilot isn't that strong. But I've managed to see some of the future episodes through the tapings and they are definitely better. Not saying stellar (The Millers has a long way to go before it can really be compared to Everybody Loves Raymond), but it's a start. If you can stick around for a few episodes, you'll see that it is on an upswing. And that gives me hope for this show's future.
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Good to know. Thanks for the heads-up.

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