Review: ‘Chicago Sons’

Despite its contrived premise of having three relatively normal adult brothers living under the same roof in a pad overlooking Wrigley Field --- which likely occurs somewhat infrequently in this planetary orbit --- "Chicago Sons" is not without charm and promise, thanks to the inherent likability of two of its three primary testosterone carriers.

Despite its contrived premise of having three relatively normal adult brothers living under the same roof in a pad overlooking Wrigley Field — which likely occurs somewhat infrequently in this planetary orbit — “Chicago Sons” is not without charm and promise, thanks to the inherent likability of two of its three primary testosterone carriers.

Playing like a spinoff of “Men Behaving Badly” (in this case “Men Behaving Hornily” — or is that redundant?), the sitcom has a snap to its one-liners and sharp pacing that may or may not continue in the absence of director-for-hire extraordinaire James Burrows, who helms the pilot.

Centering this ode to male bonding are Jason Bateman (alumnus of NBC comedies “Silver Spoons,” “It’s Your Move” and “The Hogan Family”), David Krumholtz (of the short-lived Fox comedy “Monty”) and the underrated D.W. Moffett (“Stealing Beauty”) as the brotherly trio hanging astride Chicago’s famed Wrigley.

Harry Kulchak (Bateman) is the practical one, a smug yuppie architect with all the right answers. Billy (Krumholtz) is the nerdy one, short, wisecracking and not altogether dependable. Mike (Moffett) is the married one, a moody blue-collar yahoo who seems to have misplaced his sensitive side.

In the pilot, Mike has to move in with the other brothers after his wife (Stephanie Erb) boots him out. Reunited, the three instantly fall back into their childhood roles, with Mike acting moody, Harry playing rescuer and Billy saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and getting punched a lot.

In between immature displays, they talk about fishing, eating junk food and chasing women with abandon. That’s particularly true of Harry, who pursues gorgeous co-worker Lindsay (Paula Marshall), who naturally wants to be pals rather than lovers even if Harry can get her a choice seat for every Cubs game on the roof of his building.

The stereotypes pile up like planks of plywood in “Chicago Sons” as the script by exec producers/creators John J. Strauss and Ed Decter searches for a way to elevate the protagonists from the level of sensitivity-challenged, hormone-driven lugs. The ABC/DreamWorks comedy “Champs” never figured out how to do it. This one might, but it hasn’t yet.

Still, Bateman, a talented performer who has never been blessed with the right vehicle, knows how to milk a joke, and Moffett is a smart enough actor to be able to play dumb effectively. Krumholtz, in the pilot, is searching for a real persona, lost somewhere between witty and pathetic.

Burrows keeps the action moving smoothly, showing once again his knack for making the most of the raw material presented him. Tech credits are all fine.

One suspects there is a funny show residing somewhere inside “Chicago Sons,” and as it hits its stride in subsequent weeks and the cast chemistry improves, NBC could have a reasonably smart, if formulaic, character comedy on its hands.

Chicago Sons

NBC, Wed. Jan. 8, 8:30 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Burbank by Frontier Pictures and Three Sisters Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers/writers, John J. Strauss, Ed Decter; producer, Tim Berry; director, James Burrows; camera, Tony Askins.

Crew

Editor, Michael Wilcox; production design, John Shaffner; production coordinator, Gregg Taylor; sound, Michael Ballin; music, Donald Mankowitz; casting, Barbara Miller, Mark Saks, Geraldine Leder. 30 MIN.

Cast

Cast: Jason Bateman, Paula Marshall, David Krumholtz, D.W. Moffett, Scott Bryce, Stephanie Erb, Steve Witting, Marc Grapey, Gillian Holt, Anastasia Sakelaris.
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