11:55am PT by Daniel Fienberg
Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' '9JKL'
[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: 9JKL (CBS)
The Pitch: "People you love in a show you might tolerate!"
Quick Response: Everybody in 9JKL is trying hard, but probably too hard. Coming after years on Royal Pains, Mark Feuerstein is working his way back into sitcom shape with a broadness that verges on mime at times, not that the show he co-created around himself isn't also broad. And coarse. When you have legends like Elliot Gould and Linda Lavin discussing their nether-regions within the opening two minutes, you're making a clear statement, and this pilot has many more references to Gould's testicles than any broadcast network sitcom in recent memory — probably ever. Feuerstein's man-business is also subject to ample discussion in a pilot that starts low and stays low and just never gets past "Guy lives next to parents who say inappropriate things" into "Guy lives next to parents who say inappropriate things that are funny." On the bright side, this pilot contains such a relentless string of cock-and-balls jokes that it doesn't have time to delve into the deep well of "clingy Jewish parent" humor that I assume is eventually inevitable. The reality is that this is a very basic premise that, with a cast this outstanding, could be a perfectly serviceable sitcom. Feuerstein has been a fine broadcast comedy lead in the past, Lavin and Gould are just about as good as it gets if you wanted to cast Jewish sitcom parents and 9JKL hasn't begun to make adequate use of the boundless potential of David Walton and Liza Lapira. Yes, I know Walton and Lapira have a lot of failed network comedies under their respective belts, but I like both of them enough that I think both deserve more than fourth- and fifth-banana status on a CBS multicam that's initially more The Millers or Two Broke Girls — overqualified actors resorting to low-brow schtick — than Mom — overqualified actors getting to balance low-brow schtick with nuanced material that's on their level.
Desire to Watch Again: Very little, and I watched every single episode (nine, I believe) of Conrad Bloom, Feuerstein and Lavin's previous broadcast collaboration. Heck, I watched nearly every episode of Mulaney, Gould's last foray into the network sitcom world.
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