The TV sitcom landscape is apparently so desolate that networks think audiences will watch anything billed as a comedy. "Family Tools" will test that theory when it premieres Wednesday night at 8:30 on ABC.
A mostly appealing cast is wasted in a laugh-starved show about a relentless screw-up of a man-child who has never been able to find a career path, much less make his dad proud of him.
So he quits his latest endeavor, studying to be a minister, to return home to run the family fix-it business, Mr. Jiffy Fix, because his dad may or may not have health issues.
The regular characters include the son, Jack Shea (Kyle Bornheimer, "Perfect Couples"); his dad, Tony, (J. K. Simmons, "The Closer"); his aunt, Terry (Leah Remini, "King of Queens"); her teenage son Mason (Johnny Pemberton, "Aim High"); Mr. Jiffy Fix's employee Darren (Edi Gathegi, "X Men: First Class"); and Darren's sister, "Stitch" (Danielle Nicolet, "X Men TV Series").
I wish I could give you an example of a joke that doesn't work, but for the life of me, I couldn't even tell when the writers were trying to be funny.
Let's laugh at the African American guy having to hide his coffee in a paper bag like a 40 ounce so people he owes money to won't know he's working. Oh wow, the high school kid likes firecrackers. What a knee-slapper. Terry is a massage therapist? Awesome: Let's make a penis joke, using another definition of "tools.
In the pilot, Jack comes home, takes over the family business, Dad knows he'll screw up, he does. Roll credits.
In the second episode, Jack and Darren are ignored by white-collar workers in the ad agency where they're doing some installation work, Jack and Darren turn the tables on them.
If the show has a whiff of better series like "Raising Hope" and "My Name Is Earl," it's because creator-writer Bobby Bowman worked on both of those Greg Garcia-created sitcoms. Bowman tries to replicate the quirkiness of those shows, but without funny lines, the effort falls flat.
"Tools" is a sad waste of Simmons' considerable talents, but he's among the most employable stars in Hollywood, so he won't starve.
Gathegi is also misused and wasted. His performance alone makes the character of Darren appealing, just as Nicolet's performance does for the character of his sister.
Bornheimer is OK, but his character is too unlikable to maintain our interest, much less our sympathy.
Even if you like Remini, and I never really have, she mostly just walks through the sitcom doing her Leah Remini deadpan wisecrack bit. This time, it's not just her lack of range that keeps her from hitting the mark.
CBS renews ‘Two and a Half Men'
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- CBS says it's bringing "Two and a Half Men" back next season.
The network announced the decision Friday on Twitter. It didn't address whether the full cast would return.
The series stars Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones as Cryer's son.
Jones' character is serving in the Army this season and has been somewhat less visible on "Two and a Half Men."
In January, the 19-year-old actor apologized to CBS after calling the popular sitcom "filth" and "very inappropriate."
CBS declined comment on Jones' future with the sitcom, now in its 10th season.