“Forever Young” is described as a “social experiment,” throwing quintets separated by two generations together in a house a la “The Real World,” and asking if they can “bridge the gap.” It’s a cute notion, but one mostly done in by a lack of faith in the they-don’t-speak-the-same-language premise — from the extreme casting and jokey tone (who thought having Dennis Miller narrate was a good idea?) to presenting the twentysomethings as bubble-brained airheads and the septuagenarians as the parents on “Seinfeld.” Look closer, and there’s really no “experiment” at all, just another sitcom (albeit with a few teary moments) masquerading as a reality show.
The five seniors (all over 70) and the youngsters are brought together under false pretenses. “They’re about to go from ‘The Fast and the Furious’ to ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ ” Miller snarks in the opening half-hour, as the chiseled youngsters get a glimpse of what they see as the walker brigade.
The problem is the producers don’t trust the March-December mix to yield the hoped-for fireworks, so they produce each episode like it’s a one-off of an established reality show. In the premiere, for example, the two sides engage in a quizshow competition, with the seniors trying to identify modern terms like “bromance,” and the youngsters (dense even by the genre’s standards) offering blank stares when FDR is mentioned.
The second half-hour (to be paired with the first opening night) amounts to mixed-pairs “Amazing Race,” while the third presents a moneymaking task a la “The Apprentice.” And so on.
The unfortunate part is that the network has stumbled onto a zeitgeist-y concept in theory, and not just because of its own struggles to appeal to a younger demo instead of one born during the aforementioned Roosevelt administration. Much like TV’s emphasis on demographics, the political landscape has been riven, in part, by the attitudinal gap between those under 35 who voted for Obama and an older crowd generally more resistant to his siren song of change. Most of that’s lost, alas, in “Forever Young’s” snide approach, barring the occasional warm-and-fuzzy moment, when somebody dispenses grandfatherly advice.
“This experience is going to test my patience,” one of the seniors snorts near the outset.
It didn’t have to turn out that way, but ultimately, it’s hard to argue with the sentiment.
(Series; TV Land, Wed. April 3, 10 p.m.)
Narrator: Dennis Miller.
Produced by Eyeworks and Katalyst. Executive producers, JD Roth, Todd A. Nelson, Jason Goldberg; co-executive producers, Caleb Nelson, Brian Smith; supervising producer, Barry Murphy; senior producer, Scott Martin; story producers, Louise Clauson, Camilla Dhanak, Kevin Maynard; camera, Adam Sampson; music, Alec Puro and the Music Collective; casting, Allison Kaz. 30 MIN.