NBC still has “Mad About You,” but ABC has “Mad at You,” which is what we should call this banal TGIF trifle of a sitcom about a fussbudget college professor and the bad-boy brother with a Peter Pan complex who is forced to move in with him. Gee, you don’t think they’ll clash or anything, do you? Only about as much as President Clinton might if he happened to become roomies with Kenneth Starr. Now that would be a hoot.
Unfortunately, “Brother’s Keeper” smells like every formulaic mismatched buddies show we’ve ever seen. The big innovation here is that there also happens to be a kid in the middle of things, giving it an “Odd Couple” meets “My Two Dads” quality that grates pretty much immediately. And exec producer Donald Todd’s opening teleplay never lets up in painting its protagonists as hopeless twits.
Show stars William Ragsdale as Porter Waide, a San Francisco history prof, widower and single dad to 8-year-old Oscar (Justin Cooper, who played Jim Carrey’s young son in “Liar Liar”). He’s straight, square, stodgy — the kind of guy who might wear a suit to the beach.
Everything is going just fine in Porter’s upright little world when his free-spirited sports superstar brother Bobby (Sean O’Bryan) — an NFL kicker who has just been traded — shows up on his doorstep. Turns out that Bobby’s just signed a multimillion-dollar contract that carries a minor stipulation: He must live with a responsible human who will keep him out of the trouble he seems to find everywhere.
No sooner has Bobby moved in than he makes a complete jackass of himself, sticking small game pieces up his nose and spurring Porter to start a bar fight. Good example to be setting for the boy, too. Under James Widdoes’ punchless direction, nothing much really happens that might be labeled a genuine human response. Such is life under ABC’s divertingly lame TGIF (Thank God It’s Frivolous) edict.
The only thing to recommend “Brother’s Keeper” is a sharp performance by Bess Meyer as a mocking sports lawyer assigned by the team to tail Bobby as he makes a case for the fun-and-profit side of arrested development. But she’s not quite enough in the pilot to drive the show above the level of tepid twaddle.
Tech credits are fine.