Poor Kyle Bornheimer. He’s rifled through failed sitcoms on so many different networks he’s actually begun to recycle. So after his last ABC stop in “Romantically Challenged,” he’s back in “Family Tools,” a series so uninspired even the network appears pretty blase about it, starting with its late-spring, not-even-after-”Modern Family” timeslot. Adapted from a U.K. series, it’s a familiar story about a screw-up son who takes over the family business, enduring the usual wacky relatives, crazy clients and little indignities. Oh, and that handyman business he’s inherited? Do they moonlight tinkering on scripts?
Actually, that’s not an entirely fair criticism. Produced by “That ’70s Show” alums, “Tools” isn’t completely broken, from an execution standpoint, and the cast — including J.K. Simmons as the gruff dad and Leah Remini as the aunt who sneakily lures the protagonist back home — is superior to the material. Still, with a concept and general feeling this tired, when it comes to forging any lasting bonds, “Family” will likely discover water is thicker than blood.
Bornheimer’s Jack has just left seminary school, the latest in a long list of endeavors to try to find himself, when his aforementioned aunt summons him home by pretending to be his father, Tony, who has just suffered a heart attack. “Who can I trust to be the new Mr. Jiffy Fix?” the real Tony pleads, hoping someone, anyone, can spare him from handing the business he’s labored to build to his career-hopping, directionless scion.
But without that dilemma, there would be no series, as Jack adjusts to sharing a home with his 15-year-old cousin (Johnny Pemberton) and dealing with his two employees, the disrespectful Darren (Edi Gathegi) and Darren’s beautiful sister, nicknamed “Stitch” (Danielle Nicolet), who inexplicably seems kind of sweet on Jack.
Bornheimer (whose past half-hours include “Worst Week” and “Perfect Couples”) is well-suited to the role of an amiable doofus and the show’s physical sight gags, and a subsequent episode ABC made available, in which Jack seeks to impress a white-collar former classmate by lying to her about the business, is a bit better than the premiere.
Even so, “Family Tools” can’t cobble together enough moments to merit any prolonged attention, while having the misfortune to be just the latest in a growing line of single-camera, cookie-cutter comedies ABC has served up.
“We’re like fat chicks at spring break,” Darren protests during that later episode, when the well-dressed, arrogant employees at the tony ad agency where they’re working on a repair job ignore the two handymen. “Completely invisible.”
(Series; ABC, Wed. May 1, 8:30 p.m.)
Cast: Kyle Bornheimer, J.K. Simmons, Edi Gathegi, Johnny Pemberton, Danielle Nicolet, Leah Remini.
Filmed in Los Angeles by the Mark Gordon Co. and ITV Studios America in association with ABC Studios. Executive producers, Joshua Sternin, J.R. Ventimilia, Mark Gordon, Andrea Shay, Paul Buccieri; director, Michael Fresco; writer, Bobby Bowman; based on the U.K. Television series “White Van Man;” camera, Sharone Meir; production designer, John Zachary; editor, Billy Marrinson; music, Matt Mariano; casting, Wendy O’Brien. 30 MIN.