Fall TV Reviews: ‘The Goldbergs,’ ‘Trophy Wife’ & ‘Lucky 7’

Senior Television Writer
09.24.13 17 Comments

As I noted yesterday, the combination of A)a really weak freshman class of fall shows, and B)my very slow recovery to full health means I’m not going to be doing long reviews of all the new shows (and in certain cases will be skipping them altogether).

Tuesday has four new shows debuting, all of them on ABC. (When you have as many holes as ABC has, you sometimes have to do insane things like schedule a night featuring only first-year shows.) “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” got the full review treatment, and I’ll have some brief thoughts on “The Goldbergs,” “Trophy Wife” and “Lucky 7” coming right up…

“The Goldbergs” (9 p.m., ABC): This is the first of three different “Wonder Years”-esque nostalgia sitcoms, inspired by creator Adam F. Goldberg’s ’80s camcorder-wielding childhood. Jeff Garlin and Wendi McClendon-Covey play the parents of a family prone to yelling (it’s the Garlin character’s defining trait), Patton Oswalt narrates as the adult version of the youngest kid, and he has a neurotic teenage brother and an exasperated teenage sister, in addition to George Segal turning up as the grandfather. The characters are all broad types, the ’80s references (Gobots, Sam Goody, an REO Speedwagon singalong)  mostly feel shoehorned in rather than creating the feeling of the era, and the hostility of the family doesn’t turn out to be great fodder for humor. There are a couple of isolated moments where I can see the show “The Goldbergs” wants to be, and there’s a perverse part of me that wants it to succeed so they can do an episode in season 3 or 4 where the family watches “The Wonder Years” and the universe explodes, but I don’t see all the wonderful things in it that ABC does. Grade: C

“Trophy Wife” (9:30 p.m., ABC): There is an awful lot going on in this one: Malin Akerman as the title character (the title is meant ironically, because as “Cougar Town” has proven, America loves ironic sitcom titles), Bradley Whitford as her nice guy husband, Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins as his two very different ex-wives, three kids (one of whom was recast after the pilot, but the pilot wasn’t reshot due to cheapness) plus the always-swell Natalie Morales as Akerman’s best friend from her crazy single girl days. As a result, the pilot feels pretty frantic, and the only character who really lands is Akerman’s – she’s charming and plays drunk amusingly – but that’s the one who needs to if the show is going to work. Lots of talented people here, including co-creator Sarah Haskins, who loosely based the show on her own life (which is even more colorful; her husband is Blake Edwards’ son), and who had one of those performances at her first press tour session that suggested very good things for the show down the line. (It was similar to “Ben and Kate” creator Dana Fox the year before; such a fun show that absolutely no one watched.)  I don’t love the pilot, but the raw material’s there for a very good comedy. Grade: B-

“Lucky 7” (10 p.m., ABC): This is based on a short-run British series (and features one of that show’s actors in the American version of the same role), focusing on a group of co-workers at a Queens garage who win a huge lottery jackpot together (and about the one employee who, by being responsible and not putting into the lottery fund, misses out on this new fortune). It’s well-cast (including Isiah “Shiiiiiiiit” Whitlock Jr., Luis Antonio Ramos and Matt Long), and Paul McGuigan does a snappy job directing the pilot. But I found the characters forgettable, and the pilot as a whole – which mostly focuses on the characters’ depressing, overwhelmed everyday lives pre-jackpot, along with flashforwards suggesting what a pain the money will turn out to be – weirdly stressful. Maybe if I found any of the people interesting, I’d be willing to sit through their aggravating problems after spending a day dealing with my own; but I don’t, so I’m not. Also, I don’t see how this is sustainable as a broadcast network series.  Grade: C

Again, you can use this post to discuss any or all of these shows after they air tonight.

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com

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