'Crowded': TV Review
This new NBC comedy starring Patrick Warburton is a throwback to worse, less funny days of TV.
In a perfect world, The Tick — who doesn’t remember the should-have-been classic from Fox which aired a mere eight episodes from November 2001 to January 2002? — would have been a huge hit and Patrick Warburton would still, 15 years later, be known as ... okay, probably Puddy from Seinfeld, who then became The Tick for, let’s say, seven brilliant seasons.
But it’s clearly not a perfect world. Warburton is still Warburton — it’s basically what he does and, honestly, why should he change it because it works? — only now he’s in a new sitcom on NBC that feels like it aired in the early 1990s and is a huge disappointment and groaning mistake.
Crowded is an alleged comedy where within two minutes you realize you don’t want to watch another two frames of it. Predictable, dumb, unfunny — it checks off all the wrong boxes at an alarming rate, ending on “painful” as the pilot wraps, cascading downward to “punishing” by the second episode.
So, if you didn’t watch The Tick, this is basically on you.
And yes, Amazon is remaking The Tick, but now, 15 years later, Warburton is not going to be the star, though he will undoubtedly be available given how tragic Crowded is.
From creator Suzanne Martin (The Soul Man, Hot in Cleveland, The Client List) and put on the air by NBC for reasons not entirely evident, Warburton stars (or if you prefer, is held hostage temporarily) as Mike Moore, husband to Martina (Carrie Preston) and father to dim-witted but hot Stella (Mia Serafino) and brilliant but hot Shea (Miranda Cosgrove), who both go off to college, graduate and move back home again.
Because TV needs more comedies revolving around that particular premise.
Crowded also gets its name because Mike’s tough-love dad, Bob (Stacy Keach), and Bob's wife, Alice (Carlease Burke), are also staying around instead of moving to Florida. You see, Mike’s kids are back in the nest and — follow the logic here for a second, people — Mike’s dad and his dad's wife are hanging around the nest and all of that close-quarters stuff causes a lot of unfunny scenarios that in turn ruin the sex lives of Mike and Martina as they live in the nest, which is basically the whole show.
Yes, that was someone’s idea of hilarity.
You could argue that Crowded is really about three generations hanging out and that, too, would be an idea that’s been overdone, but whatever it is, the basic idea is to construct scenes that implode before becoming funny — and then Warburton has a line or two that takes some of the wincing away.
There’s even a joke where one of the daughters tells the other to stop dressing like "Daria," which is the female character of an animated series that was created in 1997, which makes the joke ill-conceived on the one hand and unfortunate on the other because it might remind people who actually saw Daria what it was like to watch a show and actually laugh.
Crowded seems pleased with itself that Mike’s dad, Bob, is married to an African-American woman. Just as it takes delight in dumping Stella’s boyfriend from the pilot (who likely was told to channel Keanu Reeves from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which, if you’re keeping track, actually predates Daria), and replacing him with a lesbian friend for Stella, who has a whole new haircut and look in the second episode.
If only the show had also changed.
The only times Crowded gets a meager laugh is when Warburton takes one of the predictable jokes and Warburtons it. So, basically, Warburton playing himself is the only enjoyable part of the show, which is the kind of reductionist math someone else should have figured out before this thing got on the air. Warburton is it. Everybody else and especially the writing is not necessary. He could just come out Tuesday at 10 p.m. and talk for an hour and it would be better. Instead, you’ll get the first two episodes before Crowded moves to Sundays at 9:30 p.m. because networks still haven’t figured out that the shell game is a terrible idea.
But as you’ve probably surmised, Crowded is a terrible idea in and of itself, so it’s not like you can look to NBC for logic on this.
Cast: Patrick Warburton, Carrie Preston, Stacy Keach, Mia Serafino, Miranda Cosgrove, Carlease Burke
Created and written by: Suzanne Martin
Airdate: Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET/PT, then Sundays, 9:30 p.m. (NBC)