TV Review: Bob Saget’s ‘Surviving Suburbia’ is Worst New Show of 2009

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HollywoodChicago.com Television Rating: 0.0/5.0
Television Rating: 0.0/5.0

CHICAGOABC’s “Surviving Suburbia” was originally supposed to air on The CW but the network that found a home for “Stylista,” “13: Fear is Real,” and “Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants” decided to leave this Bob Saget sitcom off their schedule after their deal with the show’s production company fell through.

It should have ended there. “Surviving Suburbia” could have been one of many unaired pilots and the world could have moved on. But ABC swooped in and picked it up. The only question worth asking is why anyone at ABC decided to give this horrible show a second chance and how many weeks it will be on before it goes back into the development hell it should have stayed in all along.

Surviving Suburbia
Surviving Suburbia
Photo credit: Monty Brinton/ABC

I’m almost tempted to recommend “Surviving Suburbia” just so you can appreciate what other sitcoms do well. It’s not “so-bad-it’s-good” like a cheesy movie but sometimes it’s healthy to see junk like this or “Kath and Kim,” so one can appreciate the cleverness of shows like “30 Rock” and “The Big Bang Theory” more completely.

“Suburbia” is the kind of sitcom that you would see in the middle of another sitcom or movie as an example of cliched, ridiculous, awful television. It’s so laugh-free and cringe-inducing that you’d be forgiven for thinking the whole thing was an elaborate hoax.

Surviving Suburbia
Surviving Suburbia
Photo credit: Randy Tepper/ABC

Reportedly planned as a male “Roseanne” (although the show features none of that show’s incredibly believable family dynamic or blue-collar relatability), “Surviving Suburbia” stars Saget as Steve Patterson, a grumpy old man with a wife (Cynthia Stevenson) who barely tolerates him, two children (Jared Kusnitz & G. Hannelius), and an obnoxious neighbor (Jere Burns).

“Surviving Suburbia” walks that fine-line between old-fashioned and out-of-date, falling distinctly into the latter category. If it weren’t for the references Steve’s young daughter makes to Zac Efron, one could easily think that this was the show that Saget went into immediately following “Full House”. After trying raunchy humor, Saget is back in “family-friendly” mode as if TV hasn’t changed in the years since “Full House” went off the air.

The cynical male lead, the patient wife, the kids who speak with the grammar of TV writers - we’ve seen everything in “Surviving Suburbia” before, something the creators of the show would certainly recognize. This is not groundbreaking television. So, the success or failure of a show like this one comes down to execution and believe me when I tell you that the premiere episode of “Surviving Suburbia” is 100% laugh-free. Not even a chuckle.

Surviving Suburbia
Surviving Suburbia
Photo credit: Randy Tepper/ABC

And to make the laugh-less half-hour more painful, the producers have turned the laugh track up to 11. Even the slightest punchline is accompanied by a laugh track that sounds like people have just heard the funniest joke of their entire lives. It’s incredibly annoying.

In the premiere episode, airing Monday, April 6th at 8:30pm in the sweet post-“Dancing With the Stars” timeslot, Steve is forced to feed his neighbor’s (Dan Cortese) fish and accidentally lights the place on fire. When he’s dubbed a hero for putting out the fire that he himself started, Steve faces a crisis of conscience.

“Surviving Suburbia” is cookie cutter television in a time when sitcoms like “30 Rock,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and even another ABC offering, the relatively underrated “Samantha Who?” are trying to break the mold. I can’t imagine audiences will be drawn to this show for too long, especially once it leaves its prime timeslot, so if you want to see the worst new show of 2009, you better set your DVRs.

‘Surviving Suburbia,’ which airs on ABC, stars Bob Saget, Cynthia Stevenson, Jere Burns, Jared Kusnitz, G. Hannelius, and Dan Cortese. The show was created by Kevin Abbot. The series premiere airs on Monday, April 6th, 2009 at 8:30PM CST.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Johnny D.'s picture

Response to Surviving Suburbia

My and wife I watched this show last week and thought it was hilarious. We told our teenage daughters Saturday morning about the funny episode from the night before. I especially enjoyed the mother commenting to Saget that “careful what you say to our neighbor’s children, they don’t know to ignore you, like our kids.” And the scene about confessing a childhood story that “scared” you so the mom tells how she had to ride the “slow bus.” I’ve never been a Saget fan, other than enjoying his celebrity roast on Comedy Central. Perhaps you want to give it another chance?

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