REVIEW: ‘Guys With Kids’ (NBC – Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.)

EDITORIAL NOTE: To understand how we do our reviews, please refer to our review of Revolution, here.

From Emmy winner and executive producer Jimmy Fallon comes a new comedy about three thirty-something dads trying to hold on to their youth, while holding onto their new babies’ hands.  Easy, right?  Thankfully, Chris (Jesse Bradford, “The West Wing”), Nick (Zach Cregger, “Friends with Benefits”) and Gary (Anthony Anderson, “Law & Order”) have each other to help navigate their survival as new dads, while still trying desperately to remain dudes. Balancing work or staying at home, painfully married or happily divorced, they know that taking care of the little ones while maintaining a social life is a daily challenge. Whether it’s hosing the little squirt down in the kitchen sink or hitting the bar strapped with a baby björn, these guys are on a roller-coaster adventure – parenting like you (and they) have never seen before.  Also starring are Jamie Lynn Sigler (“The Sopranos”) and Tempestt Bledsoe (“The Cosby Show”).  Someone once said it is much easier to become a father than to be one. These three guys are about to find out just how true that is. “Guys with Kids” is produced by Universal Television and Holiday Road.  Fallon (“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”) serves as executive producer/creator along with executive producer/creator/writer Charlie Grandy (NBC’s “The Office”) and executive producer/creator Amy Ozols (“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”) as well as executive producers Rick Wiener and Kenny Schwartz (“Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place,” “American Dad”).   Emmy-nominated director Scott Ellis (“Modern Family,” “30 Rock”) is the director. – NBC

Score:     5 out of 100

Initial Impressions (May 20, 2012):  As far as standard, multi-camera sitcoms go, this really doesn’t look bad.  We actually found ourselves laughing four or five times during the trailer which is far more than we did during any episode of Whitney or $#*! My Dad Says.  That, in and of itself gives it some hope despite the fact that we also face-palmed it several times because of the typical sitcom crap that we hate.

Shawn:  Here’s the thing:  I don’t know what I’m more annoyed at; the fact that this show is as absolutely horrible as it is or the fact that NBC played the game of putting all of the gags that were actually funny in the pilot into the trailer.  The worst part is that when actually viewed in context they aren’t even that funny.

So, here’s apparently what happened with this show; Jimmy Fallon had this great idea about a bunch of guys sitting at a bar watching a basketball game with their backs to the camera.  There’s a last second buzzer-beater and all three guys jump up in excitement and then turn around and they’ve all got what I’ve referred to as the “baby backpack that goes up front” complete with babies.  Besides the fact that we’ve seen that beer commercial before, I gotta ask: did the network scheduling heads at NBC even bother to read the script for this pilot?  Seriously, what we’re suspecting is that Jimmy Fallon walked into the meeting, pitched this idea and the execs said, “Y’know… we do have a hole to fill in the schedule and you are Jimmy Fallon.  Go out there and film us a pilot, son!”

In principle, if you were hanging out with your friends on a Friday night and one of your friends happened to be a television writer and threw this at you after a couple of drinks you might think that it sounds kind of funny. Hell, it sounds like the setup to a good joke. However, if you work for a network and you read the script for this pilot and then not only greenlighted it but actually ordered multiple episodes to be included in your fall prime-time schedule, you should immediately replaced… by that monkey on Animal Practice who would no doubt do a better job just by accident (and also isn’t getting enough screen-time on Animal Practice, but I digress.).

This would have gotten them more laughs…

This show is so painfully unfunny that I don’t know where to begin.  When they can’t milk the crap out of every sitcom cliché and perceived parenting cliché in the book, they fill in the gaps with Anthony Anderson having one his typically type-cast manic episodes where he has a complete meltdown (because, after all, that’s all he can do, right?) to try to force some laughs into a scene that we all know is going nowhere.  What’s funny is that the studio audience isn’t even fooled.  While we have no doubt that the laughter from the audience for both $#*! My Dad Says and Whitney was induced at gunpoint, we don’t even think they have a flashing applause sign for the studio audience in this case because they don’t seem to know when they’re supposed to laugh.  I sat there only half-assedly paying attention to this mess and on multiple occasions said to myself, “Whoops… that was a joke… the audience missed it.  It wasn’t funny, but in theory, it was a joke.”  It even appears that the writers aren’t sure whether or not the audience will get the jokes because after each one of these fizzles came the obligatory Anthony Anderson freakout.

What it really comes down to is that the writers of Guys with Kids are incapable of relating and relating to their subject matter and characters so they’re just winging it.  It’s quite obvious that no one associated with this production actually has children or knows anyone with children and everything they’ve learned about parenting has come from bad television.  The characters make this even worse because they are either completely unlikable or at best, meh (yes, I just used “meh” as an adjective.), so either way you just don’t care about them at all,  i.e., they are unrelatable.

Here’s what it seems like is honestly going on; imagine this scenario if you will:  a computer and peripheral manufacturer has a whole team of executive level sales people that they use to pitch their products to various businesses and government agencies.  Bill is the go-to-guy for PC’s and their top salesman in that division.  Tom is the hotshot for the copier and printer division.  Tom comes down with a cold and cannot make his big presentation to “X” Insurance Company so Bill is asked to take the lead on the big sales pitch.  Bill says, “Well, you know I don’t know much about printers and copiers, but crap,  I can sell ice to an Eskimo.”  Bill’s company agrees, he does his presentation to “X,” “X” places a huge order.

This is what’s going on with Guys with Kids but no one seems to realize that selling a product and producing a product are not the same thing and if you don’t know what the hell you’re writing about or how to even write relatable characters, your product will fail to connect with audiences.  It’s as if all of the writers of this show spent a whole lot of time writing service manuals for top-loading washing machines and passed the qualifications prerequisites for being hired for the show because they had “professional writing experience.”

…Rule #1 For Success With JDate: Actually be Jewish

Here’s an example, completely unrelated to the premise of the show, of how dumb this show is and how ill-informed the writers are: the big joke in the episode that turns into the big reveal is that the ex-wife (a character whose name I don’t care enough about to look up) of one of the trio (the white guy with the dark hair) is making up the fact (or so we think) that she has a date with someone so white-guy-with-dark-hair can’t go out on his date.  When pressed for specifics, it appears by her hesitation that she is lying because she claims that her date is a professional athlete… named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar… who she met on J-Date.  Then, at the end of the episode – surprise, surprise! – it turns out that she was telling the truth because who makes a cameo appearance at the end of the pilot?  Why, none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, himself… a Muslim… who she met on a Jewish dating site.  Seriously, besides the fact that the majority of the audience probably doesn’t even know who Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is, how dumb are these writers to have the characters have met on J-Date?

Guys With Kids really has no redeeming value except for the fact that as bad as it is, at least the trailer made it look convincing for two minutes and twenty-five seconds which is two minutes and twenty five-seconds more of comedy than $#*! My Dad Says or Whitney gave us in 44 episodes so far (but at least $#*! My Dad Says can never hurt anyone again with its awfulness). That’s about 10% of an episode so it should get a 10 out of 100 but I’m cutting that in half for intentionally tricking us with the out-of-context scenes that actually made us think that this might be good.

Pure, unbridled, puke-in-your-mouth Suckitude© from Guys with Kids and I’d like to congratulate them for being the worst show I have seen so far this year.  Let’s see if Partners on CBS is up to the challenge of taking the title away.

UPDATE: Partners wins!

Watch the pilot of Guys with Kids, right now, ahead of the September 26th premiere, here. Please note, this is the only chance other than Video OnDemand services through cable providers you will be able to see the pilot.  NBC will be airing the second episode on premiere night, not the pilot.

Chance of Renewal:  0%

There’s no way that this gets picked up for a second season.  I predict cancellation before Thanksgiving.

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