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On the one hand, any show that gives more work to the creative minds and actors behind “Everybody Hates Chris” is a good thing. On the other hand, was anyone clamoring for a reprisal of the forgettable 2005 road-trip feature “Are We There Yet?”
Having arrived at our destination, it’s not necessarily a more interesting place than in the film, which starred the TV version’s executive producer Ice Cube. Here, “Chris’ ” father Terry Crews steps into the role of hapless Nick Persons that Cube originated. Nick has been wed six months to the prickly Suzanne Kingston (Essence Atkins) and still is trying to figure out where he fits in her house and with her two kids. He’s also the kind of husband who takes six months to realize that his wife is hyphenating her last name.
The pilot is a harmless if toothless, 20-odd minutes of bickering between Nick and Suzanne, who exhibit no chemistry, much less a liking for each other. The kids pop up only to make Nick’s life more difficult (they throw a specially prepared breakfast in the freezer and call him “Dad” only when they want something). There’s something stilted about the whole exercise, and Crews certainly can do better than wrinkle his entire (bald) head in confusion every two minutes — not that you’d know it from the first episode.
Things coast along soporifically enough during the first few minutes, which are full of celebrity name drops including Tyler Perry and Michelle Obama, and Will Smith becomes a running joke (his new film has “already made $100 million, and it’s not even out yet,” chirps the preteen daughter, who apparently reads The Hollywood Reporter’s boxoffice listings between jumping rope and Girl Scouts).
But there’s trouble ahead when Telma Hopkins (as Nick’s cougar mama) and Ice Cube (Suzanne’s older brother, the “sole member of an elite black ops unit”) make brief appearances. At that point, the sheer dullness of the episode shines through, as they’re clearly up to speed on the tone (exaggerated) and timing of what are known as jokes. They’re the best part of the episode.
In the end, “Are We There Yet?” is a harmless little family comedy, and that’s about the best that can be said. The traveling Kingston-Persons have come home, but it’s not necessarily the best place of all.
Airdate: 9-9:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 2 (TBS)
Production: Revolution Studios, Cube Vision, 5914 Prods.
Cast: Terry Crews, Essence Atkins, Coy Stewart, Teala Dunn
Executive producers: Joe Roth, Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez, Vince Totino, Ali LeRoi
Based on characters created by: Steven Gary Banks, Claudia Grazioso
Developed for television by/director: Ali LeRoi
Writers: Ali LeRoi, Jason M. Palmer
Producers: Jason Shuman, William Sherak, Michele Armour
Director of photography: Bill Berner
Production designer: Norval Johnson
Costume designer: Kaela Wohl
Casting: Todd Thaler
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