As likable as George Foreman is, television remains a ring in which he’s just another palooka. Having tried a short-lived ABC sitcom in 1993, the two-time heavyweight champ gets the whole family into the act in this TV Land series, but Big George’s rematch with TV again leaves him wheezing. The series is amiable enough, but as with Oxygen’s Deion Sanders domesticated reality-comedy, the skein takes a famous name and gives him nothing interesting to do — the premiere literally involves a stretch during which the Foremans just sit around the table together. A knockout, it isn’t.
Beyond his fists and a lucrative second act as a grill pitchman, Foreman is famous for having 10 kids and naming practically all the boys George. Most of them seem to have nothing better to do than hang around the Texas ranch that dad shares with his wife, Joan.
Round one features George having a late-life crisis because one of his daughters is turning 21, prompting the 59-year-old boxer to unconvincingly contemplate another pugilistic comeback — an idea that requires sneaking around Joan’s back. Should she find out, he tells the camera in a demonstration of the show’s sitcom aspirations, “I’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”
OK, so this is supposed to be “I Love George” — and the big lug is kind of lovable. It’s just that his family doesn’t pack much punch as TV personalities, and the tepid efforts to fabricate situations feel stilted and forced.
Foreman himself isn’t bad company, and it’s easy to see why he’d sign on for what amounts to an infomercial that counts him and two of his sons among the producers. Still, the first installment proves so thin it’s hard to imagine what can be done for an encore, much less to fill a six-episode run.
On the plus side, Foreman is one of those athletes with an enviably positive image, so at least this isn’t “Tribe Tyson” or “Entourage O.J.” Yet even feel-good reality needs some reason to exist, and if “Family Foreman” can’t generate more heat than this, then stick a fork in it, because it’s done.