"Retired at 35" achieves the almost unimaginable feat of making CBS' similar "(Bleep) My Dad Says" look like a classic.
Having scored an unexpected hit with “Hot in Cleveland,” TV Land returns that sitcom with a painfully tepid companion, “Retired at 35,” which achieves the almost unimaginable feat of making CBS’ similar “(Bleep) My Dad Says” look like a classic. Here, George Segal is the irrepressible oldster, with Johnathan McClain as his son, who comes home for a visit and winds up staying until, well, this stale groaner is inevitably retired. There might be a show within the title — a young tech millionaire set for life, say — but this isn’t it.
The premiere chews through an almost ridiculous amount of story in near-record time. A perceived success living in New York, David Robbins (McClain) comes to the retirement community where his parents Alan (Segal) and Elaine (Jessica Walter) live. Countless old-fart jokes ensue (dad asks, “Are you on Facial Book?”), before David impulsively quits his job, inspiring mom to announce she’s seizing the day, too, and relocating to South America.
Presto, and what resembled “Big Lake” (a show Comedy Central would doubtless like to forget) has morphed into the aforementioned “(Bleep)” in more ways than one. Suddenly, David is trying to help dad get over mom, while hanging out with his goofy pal Brandon (Josh McDermitt).
All told, the project plays like the second-worst sitcom of 1983 — you know, before “The Cosby Show” premiered — its one twist being that veteran stars (in addition to Segal and Walter, Christine Ebersole, George Wyner and, in the second episode, Shelley Long) file through the first few episodes. Consider those cameos a kind of “thank you” for past services rendered to the rerun-heavy channel.
Other than a semi-serialized element, series creator Chris Case and company don’t provide their cast anything but tedious naughtines (geriatric and otherwise) as comedic ammunition. Nor does it help that David is such a tired variation on the young guy who tries going home again, only to discover what Viagra and other pharmaceutical wonders hath wrought on his parents’ generation.
If “Hot in Cleveland” demonstrated there’s life in comfort-food comedy beyond the major networks, “Retired” reminds us that while it’s possible to triumph in TV with reheated concepts, poor execution remains the surest way to get unceremoniously put out to pasture.
Retired at 35
David Robbins - Johnathan McClain
Brandon - Josh McDermitt
Jessica - Ryan Michelle Bathe
Elaine Robbins - Jessica Walter