Hit or Sh**: FOX’s GRANDFATHERED
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
At the risk of utterly destroying my credibility as someone who should be telling you what’s good and what isn’t, I really wanted GRANDFATHERED to be good. Truthfully, I did. Not so much because I have a burning desire to see John Stamos succeed, but more so because I really want Josh Peck to not suck.
Just look at ‘im!
So when I heard that GRANDFATHERED was premiering, I claimed dominion over the couch and TV and let the magic unfold before me.
I knew more or less what the plot was about, as relentless marketing had seen to that. John Stamos is Jimmy Martino, a wealthy, suave, womanizing restauranteur who suddenly discovers that he not only has a son (Gerald, played by Peck) he didn’t know about, but that THAT son also has a daughter (Edie, played by adorable twins)! How wacky!
I know how I’m coming off, but the show does succeed in being funny. Stamos’ repartee with his assistant Annelise (Kelley Jenrette) succeeds, as well as the moments between him and Peck. A lot of the dialogue and gags are quick and rapid-fire, which seems to bode well for the series as a whole. But the funniest moments are the celebrity cameos, particularly Bob Saget showing up in the middle of a shot. Additional guests include Lil Wayne, Deion Sanders, and Don Rickles showing up for a meal together. Unfortunately,when the funniest moments of your pilot come from people who aren’t the stars, it usually means trouble.
We call it: The Saget Effect
What the pilot actually suffers from is a lack of proper pacing. The conceit of the series comes in the first three or four minutes, which is fine, perfect even. But the rest of the show barrels through its plot at breakneck speed. Stamos meets his extended family, meets his former flame, then decides to take the kid out for a day of co-babysitting, followed by a night of babysitting as well? This all seems very fast for a guy whose entire life and perception of that life has been upended in the course of a day. He barely even goes through the “Oh man I need to sit down” routine.
Is he actually a great grandfather, or is there a need to fill 22 minutes?
In addition, the characters aren’t particularly interesting. Stamos, as mentioned before, is still pretty much Uncle Jesse, but with a restaurant. Josh Peck is more promising, although still as nerdy and awkward as he was in DRAKE AND JOSH. His character is obsessed with becoming a 3D printing mogul of some type, basically a Startup Bro without the Bro. His character’s want is to win the heart of Vanessa (Christina Milian), the woman whose uterus he’s already won with the birth of his child. Vanessa’s relationship with Gerald is strange; apparently they [eccentric term for intercourse]’d only after Gerald went with her to retrieve a phone she lost, and only after she had spent the night hitting on one of his friends. She also doesn’t have much of a character beyond “object which Gerald must acquire.” One could put a noble spin on this, comparing Gerald’s quest for Vanessa to trying to reunite his broken family so that he doesn’t end up like Uncle Jesse Jimmy, but that still doesn’t leave much room for Vanessa to have a, y’know, personality. Gerald’s assistant, Annelise, isn’t that much better. She’s your typical no-nonsense black female character, with the added bonus of being a lesbian (otherwise she’d fall sway to Jimmy’s charms). Now, I know LGBT supporters want more representation in the media, but this doesn’t seem like the way to do it.
Only lesbians can resist her animal magnetism: progress!
The only interesting character, it seems, is Paget Brewster’s Sara Kingsley, Gerald’s mother and Edie’s grandmother. What I appreciate about her character is the self-awareness she possesses in terms of how lame her character is. Throughout the show, she’s more or less the nagging/scolding woman character, complaining that Jimmy wasn’t the kind of person she wanted around her baby anyway, and that his lifestyle might catch up with him. In between these speeches, she’ll stop and remind everyone around her that this isn’t how she is. “I watch Portlandia!” she cries, hoping someone will see through her façade. Her only interesting characteristic comes from the plot twist at the end, where it’s revealed that the story of her relationship with Jimmy and his story don’t quite match up. Other than that, it’s the same nagging wife you’ve seen in every sitcom.
GRANDFATHERED is good for mindless distraction, but lacks any real substance and can occasionally be downright clichéd. If you can’t wait for the FULL HOUSE reboot, you can watch GRANDFATHERED to explore what it would be like if Uncle Jesse owned a restaurant.
GRANDFATHERED airs on FOX on Tuesdays