Tuesday, 1 September 2015

"Grandfathered" John Stamos stars as a GILF in FOX'S new family sitcom

GRANDFATHERED (ABC Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Television)
Format: Single-cam comedy
EP/ W: Danny Chun
EPs: John Stamos (star), Dan Fogelman
D: Chris Koch
Logline: A longtime bachelor's life is upended when he discovers he's a father - and a grandfather.
CAST: John Stamos as Jimmy, Josh Peck as Gerald, Paget Brewster as Sara, Christina Milian as Vanessa, Kelly Jenrette as Annelise, Ravi Patel as Ken
FOX is well known for their family comedies. From their very first comedy Married With Children to groundbreaking animated sitcom The Simpsons to new classics Malcolm in the Middle, Fox has always been at the forefront. Now Fox are introducing a duo of comedies this fall and one of them is Grandfathered.

Judging by the pilot's logline, you may be forgiven for recognising some aspects of the plot. Josh Peck (Drake and Josh) stars as Gerald, a young father who reunites with his longlost bachelor father Jimmy played by John Stamos (Full House). I don't think Grandfathered is anything special nor is the plot unique or 'noisey' enough to entice viewers to check out multiple episodes. For instance, last season FOX introduced Last Man on Earth and has dramedy Scream Queens which are far more provocative and interesting than Grandfathred. Therefore, the freshman sitcom will have to carve out its own unique voice and character dynamics beyond the grandfather-father aspect of the show if it hopes to stand out among an ever growing television landscape including it's 8:30 Tuesday rival Fresh off the Boat which is by far more unique and funny.

One aspect of the pilot which is especially successful is it's ability to set the foundations of the future relationships of the main characters. although these relationships may be a little too obvious, such as Gerald and Vanessa, Jimmy and Sara (Gerald's mother). But, the romantic elements of the Grandfathered may eventually become its strongpoints once the focus on Jimmy's shock of being not only a father but a grandfather wears off. For example, the recently cancelled The Mindy Project became a much stronger sitcom when it stopped focusing on Mindy and her numerous boyfriends but focused on her blossoming romantic relationship with Danny. So, don't be surprised to see episodes exploring the obvious romantic reunion and classic sitcom break-up between Jimmy and Sara etc. 
One lesson I have learned from television is not to make a complete judgement based on a pilot's logline. The most run of the mill storylines can turn into the most unique television. ABC's Suburgatory's fish out of water premise sounded dull and tired at first but the gone to soon sitcom had a unique voice and zany characters to make the show unlike anything I had seen on primetime in quite some time. Grandfathered has the potential to become the network's next Raising Hope, which also followed a young man raising his daughter with the help of his dysfunctional family. Although the characters appear to be standard sitcom-y characters which standard sitcom-y situations,
John Stamos is obviouslly the star of the show and Fox are banking heavily on the 90s sitcom star to not only anchor but also draw eyeballs to the show. Stamos shines as Jimmy. So much so, it wouldn't surprise me if Danny Chung created the role with Stamos in mind. Not only is Stamos charming, handsome and pleasant on screen, his invests all these qualities into his character, making Jimmy a believable yet flawed and slightly insecure playboy which viewers will eventually fall in love with as he is forced to open his heart to his new family.

The nostalgia effect may have an impact on Uncle Jesse fans but I doubt that will be enough for the show to survive. On the other hand, it has been years since Stamos had a regular starring role on a network sitcom and if Girl Meets World's success has taught us anything, is that people love nostalgia. Similarly, Josh Peck has also been absent from television since his starring in the beloved Nickelodeon sitcom Drake and Josh. Peck and Stamos not only share the fact they starred on beloved sitcoms and are now making their return to television, they both resemble and compliment each other on screen and their father-son dynamic will be key to Grandfathered's success.

Grandfathered is by no means a bad family sitcom, its just that there is now such a huge range of shows for viewers to choose from especially more provocative, unique family comedies like the previously mentioned Fresh Off The Boat. Eventually, the grandfather-father dynamic will wear thin and the strength of the ensemble cast and their romantic and work relationships will have to sustain the show for the future. 

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