Still cottoning up to a more youthful audience, NBC intros its aggressively ‘ 90s family comedy series “Home Fires” with three episodes this week. Armed with a family counselor and a low-key laugh track, the tired Kramer family’s just like the one next door. Why watch ’em?
Creators/writers Bruce Paltrow, Tom Fontana and John Tinker bring on vaguely complaining dad Ted (Michael Brandon), tiresome mom Anne (Kate Burton), their hormonal daughter Libby (Nicole Eggert), 18, and perpetual juve son Jesse (Jarrad Paul), 14, who thrives on the thought of driving. Anne’s mother Nana (Alice Hirson), a stereotype who butts in everywhere, pays visits.
The Kramers (or scripters) start each chapter with a therapist (Norman Lloyd) more to set the episode’s tone than to help the wearying family with its weekly problems.
First difficulty, aside from Nana, is the news that Libby’s college boyfriend will be staying the weekend, with Ted upset because the young man could be staying in Libby’s room. Not over Dad’s dead bod!
The issues supposedly reflect current mores and Dad acts righteous, Mom placates, while Nana tries wooing her grandchildren.
Director Paltrow uses a quick sitcom pace, but the banal dialogue –done in even further by one of Jesse’s crudities–and the attempts for humor in routine situations diminish whatever life and laughs might have been nurtured with genuine new television characters.
Series itself could use a dose of therapy.