Tuesday, October 16, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Kids Are Alright' - Timmy Goes Out on an Audition While Lawrence Makes a Big Announcement in 'Pilot'

ABC's The Kids Are Alright - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Lawrence, the prodigal eldest Cleary son, returns home from the seminary and breaks the news to his family that he's dropping out for good, leaving Mike and Peggy upset and wondering why. Timmy decides he wants to audition for a children's theatre production but when Peggy finds out where it's being held she forbids him from participating. Eddie tries to keep his girlfriend a secret after Frank finds out and tries to blackmail him.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of ABC's The Kids Are Alright.

"Pilot" was written by Tim Doyle and directed by Randall Einhorn

ABC knows how to develop a solid family comedy. I mentioned that when Single Parents debuted a few weeks ago. This is a formula that the development team can execute so well. The true question comes from which series are able to continue to grow across their first seasons. It's still difficult to do a comedy pilot well. Over the last few years, audiences have just had to accept charming as a good way to determine which shows are worth sticking with in the hopes that one day they will be consistently funny. There are no real big laughs in this pilot. The closest is when Peggy and Frank put a ladder on top of the car in order to rescue some sneakers that are dangling from the telephone wire. That's something that Peggy commented on. But it's ridiculous to actually see the visual of it. Moreover, it's just difficult to give everyone a unique perspective when there is only 20 some minutes to introduce nine characters. Right off the bat, the narrator explains that this family has eight boys. Granted, one of them is still just a baby with no unique personality. But that still leaves seven children to introduce and try to find a solid comedic hook with. That's very daunting. With most of them, they boil down to just one characteristic. Even then, there really isn't anything notable to say about the two younger boys. The story is being told from a classic middle child who hopes to break out and be noticed because he is so frequently forgotten in his own family. Of course, there is the potential that some of the older kids will be moving out shortly. The eldest one is 20 years old and already spent a year away at college. Sure, his future is in flux right now because he has decided he no longer wants to be a priest. But college is still something heavily suggested to him by Mike. That's a significant story throughout this premiere. Sure, it's unclear what kind of political edge the show is hoping to explore while looking back in hindsight at the 1970s. It's so absolutely groan-worthy when Mike refers to the Watergate scandal as "phony news." There is an attempt by the narrator to wrap all of this up in a lesson that can be applied to today's world as well. This was a time when the generations were clashing with one another which led to a lot of friction. In that regard, the resolution to all of the stories seems to happen a little too easily. However, it's still absolutely rousing to see Timmy getting up on that stage and developing the courage to perform as well as he possibly can. At first, it seems like this is going to end in embarrassment. There is nothing special about him like his mother has always told him. But then, he gets that confidence. It comes from nothing but his brother playing the piano. That shows that this family supports each other in their own unique way. That's special. Plus, it doesn't go the expected route of Peggy making some big scene that ultimately inspires her son. Instead, she is quietly in the background being supportive because she knows that her son is special. She doesn't need to make a big scene because of where this audition happens to be taking place.