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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2012-2013 season, now in its seventh year! 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.]
UNTITLED PORT & GUARASCIO PROJECT (BUSTED FOX PILOT)
(written by David Guarascio & Moses Port; directed by Michael Patrick Jann; TRT: 25:17)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out? The project previously ran under the working title of "El Jefe."
The plot in a nutshell: Beverly Hills layabout Josh Turkus (the always likeable Ryan Hansen) is getting the last thing he wants for his 30th birthday: freedom. You see, his father Richard (Martin Mull) and stepmom Helen (Molly Stanton) have a new baby on the way and they want Josh to finally leave the nest. Thankfully, Josh's longtime nanny Delmi Rodriguez (Mercedes Ruehl) offers a solution: come stay with her while he gets on his feet. There he finds life on his "own" comes surprisingly easy as Delmi still treats her little "jefe" like the king of the castle, much to the chagrin of her own kids: Maria (Ana Nogueira), a budding doctor, and Al (Victor Rasuk), who runs their late father's landscaping business and recently moved in with his girlfriend Lucia (Jessica Camacho). He's particularly horrified to learn Josh has taken over his old room and assumed his role as golden child of the family.
Hoping to scare him off, Al drafts Josh to work for him and sure enough, he's not equipped for physical labor. His co-workers however are quickly smitten by Josh's charms and Al finds himself playing second fiddle to Josh once again. Meanwhile, Maria can't catch a break with Delmi - no matter how successful she is a work, it's still no substitute for finding herself a man - while Lucia is unnerved by Al constantly choosing his mom over her, no matter how skimpy her outfits get. However, just when their various frustrations reach a boiling point, Josh and Rodriguezes learn that Richard and Helen's child has been born: a baby boy, whom they name Josh as well. It seems no matter how bad you think you have it, finding out your parents are literally replacing you trumps just about everything.
What works: It's not necessarily bad...
What doesn't: ...just way too low key for my tastes. Even with the aforementioned laundry list of conflicts, there just doesn't feel like there's any legitimate stakes. Josh isn't tasked with anything beyond his capabilities - literally the same guy we see in the opening teaser is the same guy we see in its closing moments, we just feel a little more sorry for him. Absent any true drive or motivation, the humor is just the schadenfreude as a result of Josh's arrival in the Rodriguez home and even that runs its course rather quick. Jokes like all of Al's nice things being revealed to be Josh's hand-me-downs or Delmi undercutting anything Lucia says with "stop right there... are you seeing someone?" are marginally funny at best and yet repeated in each act.
Not helping matters is that the show seems more than thrilled with its own status quo. Gags like one of Al's co-workers also being a pot farmer are painfully old hat while Josh's douchey pals are twins (both played by Will Greenberg) for no other reason than apparently there's a transitive property in which two twin guys saying the same unfunny thing is somehow funnier than one guy doing it. Again, we're not taking about an affront to humanity here, there just...
The bottom line: ...doesn't seem to be enough going on - both emotionally and comedically - to sustain a weekly show.