It’s hard to go wrong with a show starring Peter Scolari and Pamela Reed, which may be one reason “Family Album” feels so right. A witty script, confident direction and a strong supporting cast don’t hurt its prospects, either.
Scolari and Reed play a baby boomer couple who relocate to their home town of Philadelphia, the main reason being that their parents, as Scolari reminds Reed — and himself — aren’t getting any younger.
The pilot episode is fairly frantic, a sure sign there are lots of crazy characters to introduce. In this case, they seem worth it.
Scolari’s upper-class parents (Alan North and Doris Belack) are, respectively , a grouchy doctor — with whom Scolari’s in practice — and an overbearing matron. She walks in, cooing and making baby talk seemingly directed at her small grandson; however, she ignores him and instead kisses Scolari all over his cheeks.
Her mom, played by Rhoda Gemignani, is a widowed hairdresser who complains nonstop. “Do you want a tour?” Reed asks at their first family dinner. “What for? I don’t have to live here,” mom says, spitting out a stale mint.
The rest of the family includes Reed’s tough, single sister (Nancy Cassaro), who thinks her sister’s crazy to have returned; sis’s juvenile delinquent son, Elvis (Giovanni Ribisi) and Reed and Scolari’s three kids (Phillip Van Dyke, Christopher Miranda and Ashlee Levitch, with Levitch a standout as the unhappy teen).
While “Family Album” has some forced sitcom lines and plot devices, the show seems carefully crafted by writers Marta Kauffman, David Crane and fellow exec producer Kevin S. Bright, producer Pete Segal and director Will MacKenzie.
Minor details — such as the complaint that their old telephone number was better, and the fact that their middle son sits glued to the TV most of the episode — lend an authenticity not usually found in the Friday night lineup.