11:18am PT by Daniel Fienberg
Take Me to the Pilots '16: CBS' 'Kevin Can Wait'
[I'll remind you at the top of every single one of these: These entries are not reviews. They're gut reactions to not-for-air pilots that could change in big and small ways between now and September or October or midseason. Full reviews will come then. They'll be longer. And more carefully considered. The opinions may even change. Who knows?]
Show: Kevin Can Wait (CBS)
The Pitch: Paul Blart: Newly Retired Mall Cop
Quick Response: If what you want is for Kevin James to do the things that Kevin James does in a CBS-style multicam sitcom, then those are the things that Kevin James does in his new CBS-style multicam sitcom. If you're in the group that wants such things, James delivers the mixture of exasperation, childlike openness and surprisingly nimbleness you crave. The plot is mighty similar to NBC's Crowded from last season, with James' character coming to realize that his dreams of peaceful retirement may be deferred by family ubiquity, but nobody watched Crowded, so familiarity isn't a concern. A tiny bit of freshness comes from James' character attempting to retire in tandem with a group of fellow cops, whose aspirations of frivolity are also being put on hold, but the core dynamics — loving-but-disapproving wife, insufficiently masculine boy-child, bad-decision-making girl-child are Sitcom 101. Could the often-terrific Erinn Hayes do more than play a wife who is introduced nagging her husband about raking the leaves? Why, yes! In moments she tries to be more animated than your usual wet-blanket spouse, but more than half of her pilot interactions hinge on finger-wagging and exasperated limb-flailing. There's one interaction in the first five minutes of the pilot that positions the husband and wife as equals-in-immaturity that kinda works, and hopefully Hayes pushes the writers to encourage more of that. Even more likely to get tweaked is Chale, Kevin's daughter's ill-defined new boyfriend, probably conceived of as just "nerdy," but written as everything the writers have contempt for and played by Ryan Cartwright as "creepy British poet-hipster-nerd-wimp." From Crowded to Last Man Standing, the "daughter's new boyfriend" character is one that writers are always tossing lazily into pilots and being forced to either redevelop or cut them, probably because writers want Guess Who's Coming to Dinner sparks without having to worry about "ideas." I expect a lot of adjustment to the non-Kevin characters.
Desire to Watch Again: Minimal, but I can also tell that as low-inspiration comedies clearly not written for me go, Kevin Can Wait isn't the worst. [Remember: This isn't a review, so no using that as a blurb, CBS.]