Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.
Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (NBC)
(written by Brian Bradley & Steven Cragg; directed by Ted Wass; TRT: 23:17)
The network's description (original ABC version): "You can go home again, but what happens when three grown siblings all try to go home at once? When Henry Graham inherited his parents' large, rambling Portland, Oregon house, he assured his pretentious brother Eric and flighty sister Janet that they were welcome any time... just not at the same time, and definitely not for good. Henry, his wife Sarah and their two kids, have already let Janet move in temporarily. After trying pottery, archery and being a Muslim, Janet recently announced to their young children that she's decided to try being a lesbian. Meanwhile, Henry's materialistic brother Eric shows up for a surprise visit with his WASP-y wife, Tina. It seems the free-spending pair have lost their summer house... along with their winter house, their designer appliances, their jet skis, and their show dogs.
They've been living out of their tiny two-seater Jaguar while driving cross-country back to the only home they have left Henry's. All Henry wants is a little peace and quiet and some time with his family. But now he has to give up the grown up wine party he's been planning since his squatter siblings are making him feel like a whiny little kid. Can grown-up siblings who have grown apart find a little common ground without someone crying me, me, me all the way home? Come visit This Little Piggy, the outlandish family comedy from the minds of Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley (MAD TV)."
What did they leave out? No joke, this is the second time this script has been shot. The first, for ABC last year, featured Andrea Parker, Brandy Norwood, Jeff Davis, Kevin Rahm and Rebecca Creskoff in the principal roles.
The plot in a nutshell: Henry (Ben Koldyke) and Sarah (Erinn Hayes) are happily married (albeit exhausted) with two kids (Aaron Refvem, Ashley Gerasimovich), living in his late parents' house in Portland. Their delicate suburban ecosystem however has been crashed by Henry's flighty sister Janet (Brooke Bloom), who's moved in to find herself (and her sexuality) after her various eccentric career ambitions (pet psychic, magician's assistant, etc.) flamed out. "Hey, none of my dreams came true either," he explains to/screams at her. "I mean look at me, I own a drug store and I have a family!" You see, like most adults, Henry's stuffed down his dream - in his case, famous and sexually promiscuous comic book artist - and replaced it with schadenfreude like hosting an wine party. It's a problem that's about to be doubled by Henry's brother, Eric (Nick D'Agosto), who arrives in the middle of the night with his superficial wife, Tina (Vanessa Minnillo).
It seems that they too have their own set of problems - their portfolio is in the tank - and they need to crash at Henry's while the market recovers. Even worse, their presence is derailing Henry's wine party, the very thing that will keep his frustrations with the world in check! Before long, Henry, Eric and Janet are acting like 10-year-olds again, calling each other "stupid," poking one another in the chest and revealing embarrassing secrets (Henry used to masturbate in their tree fort!). Ultimately this leads Henry to have a meltdown, one unfortunately witnessed by his daughter. And so, after some damage control by Sarah, Henry realizes no matter what, Eric, Tina and Janet are family and he's going to have to help them out - whether he likes it or not.
What works: So...
What doesn't: ...that needed to be made twice? Between its ear-splitting laugh track and its cartoonish characters, there's nothing here you haven't seen before... and ran away from screaming. Whether it's everyone shouting their lines (Sarah: "My mom called, she sprained her back getting up off the toilet." Henry: "Again?!"), limp insults (Henry: "Honey, you're snoring like a fat sea captain!"; Eric calls Portland "the damp crotch of America") or this-is-supposed-to-be-a-joke-question-mark comments (Janet: "Don't put me in the garage Henry, there are so many spiders!"), everything is painfully "sitcomish" in the worst way possible. In theory it's a show in a 1990s-isn't-it-wacky-they-all-live-together kind of way - plus Koldyke, so great in FOX's "Boldly Going Nowhere," is long overdue for his own show - all of which is lost in eye-rolling developments like Henry's daughter changing his ring tone to be "It's Raining Men" and Henry freaking out about not knowing how to take care of his daughter's DigiPet. As mentioned above...
The bottom line: ...this really needed to be made twice?