There are good family sitcoms (Roseanne, Malcom In The Middle), middling family sitcoms (Growing Pains, King Of Queens), and family sitcoms so terrible they call the entire idea of related human beings living together in these small groups called "families" into question. ABC's bland, pointless, utterly unfunny Bob Saget vehicle Surviving Suburbia falls far, far into the latter category.
It's not just that the show feels like a television throwback no one asked for, which it does. You've seen this family before—squeaky adorable young daughter, cool teenage son, pretty, type-A, long-suffering wife, put-upon, selfish, man-child husband, and sleazy wacky next-door neighbor—and you probably weren't that interested in them then. And it's not just that, for a show supposedly grounded in a place as everyday and mundane as "suburbia," the show stretches the limits of plausibility, which it does. This first episode centered around Saget begrudgingly agreeing to feed his neighbor (Dan Cortese, yes, as in MTV Sports Dan Cortese)'s fish, then accidentally setting the house on fire. Happens all the time. It's that the show is completely devoid of any charm, personality, or, needless to say, humor. Watching Surviving Suburbia last night felt like peering into a child's diorama of an early 90s family sitcom: all the pieces were in place, but because they were all made out of cardboard, the whole thing was frozen, utterly lifeless.
Terminal blandness like Surviving Suburbia's is definitely a team effort, and the show's writers and ABC deserve a lot of the blame. But the show's biggest problem is former Full House dad, Bob Saget. His character, Steve Patterson, is supposed to be so abrasive, anti-social, and curmudgeonly that the entire neighborhood, and even his own daughter, can't stand to be around him. Saget, reading this in the script, must have thought, "How can I make this guy's jerkiness unique? Hmm. I know! I'll sleepwalk through the entire performance!" And so he did. When an overweight woman calls him a hero for supposedly dashing into Dan Cortese's house and extinguishing the fire, Saget, with the stiffness of a mummy croaks, "You mean the sandwich right?" Zzzzzzing.
Bob Saget may be a memorably dry and dirty stand-up, but there is nothing memorable about Steve Patterson. Saget plays him like a neutered zombie version of Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm. All in all, Surviving Suburbia would be painful to watch if it wasn't so mindnumbingly dull.
—Funniest part of the night:
"Honey, I have something to tell you."
"Can it wait? Until after we've made the best love we've had in 20 years?"
Someone wrote that. Someone also wrote the part where, post-best-love-making, they immediately put on robes, went downstairs, sat on the sofa, and opened a bottle of red wine. Funny, right?
—Shout outs to High School Musical and Dancing With The Stars? We get it, ABC.