After writing a mostly positive review of the first episode of Amy Poehler, Mike Scully, Julie Thacker Scully’s new animated series I was pretty dismissive of it in a Comedy Snippets piece on the second, feeling it was just too similar to The Simpsons (with a hint of Family Guy). But over time I’ve started to wonder if that was fair, many a series takes a few good episodes to bed down, to find their tone and establish their characters, to create something a little more original and unique.
I wish I could say it’s done that too, but no, they haven’t even come close. It’s (slightly) more realistic than The Simpsons or Family Guy but it’s still largely about a white, pretty dumb male and his vaguely supportive family, the supposed lead being his son Duncan who in this episode doesn’t get a plot of his own, indeed no one does. Not having a b-plot is actually quite an original idea for a sitcom these days, but unfortunately in this case it doesn’t actually make it any better.
Story wise it’s not hideous but that’s one of the few positive things I can say about the episode, as Jack (Ty Burrell) finds out that all of his plumbing jobs have been cancelled, and discovers that’s because a new sexy Australian plumber has moved in to town, and the women are booking him because he turns them on. It’s a weak joke (and pretty insulting to women), but the episode becomes far worse as upon being encouraged by his family to follow a new dream Jack tells them about his dream to create a rock opera which sounds suspiciously like The Who’s Tommy, and everyone thinks he’s having a nervous break down.
Given his numerous threats of suicide (one of the show’s darker moments that raises a brief smirk) that might not be too inaccurate, and the rest of the family couldn’t be blamed for losing their sanity too when he demands they star in the rock opera. Said musical is of course full of terrible songs, but while they’re supposed to be so bad they’re funny that’s not the case and they’ll just make you cringe as to how painful the poor puns and attempts at humour are.
It then descends in to “the worst of The Simpsons during seasons 13 – 15” territory when after Annie dumps all of the flyers half the town is suddenly submerged under water, and amazingly then gets worse with a really bad final number which sees Jack save the day in a ridiculously unrealistic and unfunny manner, with yet another agonisingly bad song making me genuinely angry as to how unamusing it turns out to be.
The episode does have the odd good joke but the bad ones outweigh them an embarrassing amount, the characters are becoming less and less appealing with each and every episode, and it offers up absolutely nothing new when it comes to animated sitcoms. I’ll check in on it again during season 2 to see if it’s improved, I’m not history’s greatest monster after all (that would be Olaf from Frozen 2), but it’s getting to the point where I’d be amazed if it ever develops in to something of worth, the characters are tired and annoying already and while the number of gags is high, the amount that flounder and flail is truly depressing.