Beyond the “Hey, that little girl from ‘Spy Kids’ grew up” factor, there’s nothing much to recommend “Ruby & the Rockits,” which races through all kinds of business in its fuel-injected pilot to establish the template for this music-based, family affair of a series. Shaun Cassidy — mostly associated with dark dramas since graduating to showrunner status — teams with Marsh McCall and Ed Yeager on this multicamera sitcom, which stars his brothers Patrick and David as onetime pop idols now at very different stages of their lives. “Ruby” is mild and harmless, but also pretty close to laugh-less.
Patrick and David Gallagher (played by the aforementioned Cassidys) were musical icons as the Rockits, as demonstrated by a spoof video showing them with really unfortunate hair. Now Patrick has grown up and moved on to domestic bliss — running a car dealership, with a wife and two sons — while David is still hanging onto the fringes of showbiz, playing Indian casinos, stumbling home at dawn and bedding a variety of women.
Enter Ruby (Alexa Vega of “Spy Kids”), a teenager who bluntly informs David she’s his heretofore-unknown daughter. Without so much as a paternity test, he quickly delivers the kid to his slightly estranged brother, saying that his wild lifestyle doesn’t lend itself to looking after a child — even one with a sweet singing voice (naturally) who might be a little too attractive to her slow-on-the-uptake cousin (Austin Butler).
Vega is appealing enough to become the next Disney merchandise-moving teen star, but in terms of the pilot, all these machinations occur so rapidly, with so little protestation and so few complications, as to feel borderline ridiculous. One suspects the show will settle into a rhythm — Ruby adjusting to her new life, with dad David dropping in for comic relief — but if the premiere is any indication, it’s all going to be fairly banal.
That’s a shame, since having the Cassidys associated with a project exploring the aftermath of such youthful stardom — without straying into the usual “E! True Hollywood Story” territory — certainly has both comedic and dramatic potential. As is, though, the channel was likely more excited about the promotional value of the program’s autobiographical origins than about the material itself.
So while there’s a genial enough beat at “Ruby’s” heart, based on the pilot, the prospect of regularly watching the show is enough to make you “Da Doo Ron Ron” for the hills.