Close your eyes and picture this: there are two parents who hate each other, are constantly yelling at each other and are annoyed at what the other is doing. Their adult son wishes they’d just leave him alone, act normal and get along. I could go on, but does this sound familiar? Everybody Loves Raymond, perhaps? Yes, but I’m actually talking about the premise for the new CBS comedy The Millers. In fact, this is what the Ray Romano-led sitcom might have been like had Frank and Marie divorced.
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Will Arnett stars as Nathan Miller, a news reporter who just got divorced from his wife and is looking to move on as a single man. He’s trying to keep the news quiet from his parents. But of course, it doesn’t take long for them to find out, and, lo and behold, Nathan’s father, Tom, played by Beau Bridges, takes inspiration from his son’s divorce and decides to split from his wife, Carol, played by Margo Martindale.
As if Nathan doesn’t think his life could get any worse, his mother decides to move into his house, while his father moves in with his sister, Debbie (Jayma Mays), who’s married with a daughter. (Couldn’t one of them stay at their own house? Why do both have to find another home? I guess there wouldn’t be opportunities for comedy to ensue if they did that.)
Even though Arnett is the lead, it’s obvious that his character’s parents are the attention-grabbers and steal the show, particularly his mother. Carol is overbearing, nags on her husband all the time and is always telling Tom that he’d doing everything wrong. Very much like Marie Barone, to take it back to Everybody Loves Raymond for a moment.
In the pilot, we see that it’s not hard for her to turn loopy after taking sleeping pills. And because of her age, she tends to have gas a lot without even realizing it. Not always the most original writing or jokes, but she steals the show, nonetheless.
You may have seen the Dirty Dancing scene teased about in the promos. This is probably the best scene in the entire episode. Arnett and Martindale together having to take on this task is beyond hilarious. I really hope the producers and writers take note of what makes this scene work in the comedy department and try and create more like it in future episodes. Not too much to where it becomes an old, tired gimmick, but enough to create a spark and keep it going.
As far as Nathan’s father goes, well, he’s the stereotypical older husband who doesn’t know how to work any of the gadgets and is kind of a bumbling idiot (pardon my language, Mr. Bridges) because he can’t really function normally without his wife. From not knowing which of the million remote controls to use to constantly hitting redial on the phone when talking, he sounds like pretty much every husband on every sitcom ever made. But Beau Bridges knows how to bring the character to life to at least make it bearable; he infuses his personality into Tom very well.
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I have to hand it to whoever made the final call on casting for this show because they have managed to bring on board some major talent: Arnett, Bridges, Martindale and Mays are all fantastic and bring along their top-notch acting abilities. I do wonder, though, if these actors made the right call to sign on the dotted line with this of all shows. Not that The Millers is bad, per say, but considering how great they all are, as evidenced by their past work, is this the best they could find?
I mean, take Jayma Mays, for instance. She had a good thing going on over at Glee. Maybe she felt she wasn’t being given the best storylines for Emma Pillsbury or something and decided a change of scenery and pace was in order. Based on just what I saw in the pilot, it may take a while to figure out if her character, Debbie, is distinct enough, whereas with Emma on Glee, we knew right from the first episode what she was like.
The Millers definitely has potential. I’m not ruling it out just yet, especially since it’s airing right after The Big Bang Theory — and we all know the big numbers The Crazy Ones debuted to last week when put in the same position.
Putting the fart jokes and the I’m-old-so-I-don’t-know-how-to-work-all-these-gadgets jokes aside, it’s this brilliant cast that will carry the show going forward. If they had hired different actors who didn’t bring as much to the table, then it would probably have been easy to write this off as yet another failed comedy.
Chuck Lorre’s Mom isn’t faring all that well — could it be a sign of things to come for The Millers, which is also on CBS? Will The Big Bang Theory be the magic trick? I’m really looking forward to the ratings tomorrow to see how it fares.
Will you be tuning in to The Millers? And do you think the cast and timeslot will help the show to survive?
The Millers premieres tonight at 8:30pm on CBS.
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(Image courtesy of CBS)