TV Review: ‘Sean Saves the World’

"Sean Saves the World" TV review

Sean Hayes vehicle should focus on saving itself, especially if it drags down 'Michael J. Fox'

Furthering NBC’s goal of dialing back the clock to happier days, “Sean Saves the World” brings Sean Hayes back to Thursday nights, joining Michael J. Fox to spread out a blanket of nostalgia. Game as he is, however, the show is a tired litany of setups and rim-shots, with Hayes as a single parent grappling with the demands of working for an eccentric boss and raising a 14-year-old daughter. If the actor helped break ground on “Will & Grace,” all he saves here is the TV-given right to roll out retreads.

Hayes’ Sean has gone from “Fun Weekend Dad” to full-time father, which is doubly stressful because his company’s persnickety, humor-challenged new owner (“Reno 911’s” Thomas Lennon) is completely unsympathetic about off-job responsibilities. Moreover, he gets lip from his hypercritical mom (Linda Lavin), and questions from his kid (Samantha Isler) — like how he sired her when it turns out he’s gay — that provoke the customary stammering responses.

Created by Victor Fresco, the show seeks to show off Hayes’ versatility, including big physical gags and broad comedy. And while one could forgive the pilot for failing to strike a single original note as it sets up the premise, it’s harder to get past the fact that there’s almost nary a funny one.

Nor do subsequent episodes much improve matters, as Sean must decide whether to let mom or his best gal pal (“Smash’s” Megan Hilty) take his daughter bra shopping, while in episode three, he worries about the kid’s whereabouts as he braves going on a date.

NBC will position the show at 9 p.m., presumably to give Fox’s eponymous vehicle a better chance of finding an audience and bridging the gap into “Parenthood” at 9:30. Still, if “Sean Saves the World” looks like it’s falling on its face as the linchpin of a revised Thursday block consisting of three new sitcoms, one suspects the network won’t sit idly by for long before making some kind of move.

Hayes has never exactly been known as a model of restraint (that was the fun of his “Will & Grace” role), but the mugging felt more tolerable in supporting turns. In what almost feels like an unintended joke, Hilty was a late addition to the cast after they shared a “Smash” story arc in which her character gets saddled with a hammy star, played by Hayes.

“My boss is being a total di — difficult guy,” Sean says to his daughter, laboring to clean up his language, to the approving roars of sweetened laughter.

Much like “Sean Saves the World” is total dr — er, dreary comedy. And while Hayes might represent another link to NBC’s “Must-See TV” days, there’s simply precious little here worth seeing.

TV Review: 'Sean Saves the World'

(Series; NBC, Thurs. Oct. 3, 9 p.m.)


Filmed in Los Angeles by Hazy Mills Prods. and Garfield Grove in association with Universal Television.


Executive producers, Victor Fresco, Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, Marc Buckland, James Burrows; co-executive producers, Claudia Lonow, Michael Ross; supervising producer, Matt Ward; producer, Mark Solakian; director, Burrows; writer, Fresco; camera, Gary Baum; production designer, Wendell Johnson; editor, Chris Poulos; music, Scott Clausen; casting, Brett Greenstein, Collin Daniel. 30 MIN.


Sean Hayes, Linda Lavin, Thomas Lennon, Megan Hilty, Samantha Isler, Echo Kellum

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  1. NJ says:

    Oh it’s SO bad, and so derivative of everything, and trying too hard, and just all over the map. Not enjoying “post-gay” Sean at all…sorry, but he’s such a letdown after Jack! Who wants to watch tense, needs-a-Xanax, needs-an-enema Sean? That’s what we turn on TV to escape. And OK, he’s a single Dad, life in transition, he’s Frasier! He’s John Forsythe! So why’s his daughter, like, in the way? That dreary, dated,flat looks more like a stage set than a home…Make Room for Daddy had a warmer family feel, and that WAS in black and white. And the grating Linda Lavin character needs to go back and watch ALL of Torch Song, because her Anne Bancroft is stuck in first-reel purgatory. Bleccchhh…so we’re trading in our gay stereotypes for Bitchy Old Mom? No thanks! And please, NOT that hairdo…or more specifically, find one! You’re on TV!

    Then there’s the workplace, oh no. That bricky, lofty, “edgy” look (from 15 years ago), where they all have hours and hours and hours of required overtime (because nobody’s invented telecommuting yet, and God forbid the Pointy Head Boss hire some EXTRA people in this economy), so hey, how’s this for a premise…let’s all stand around chatting about it! I keep waiting for Brooke Shields to come bounding in to really save the day (and please let her bring that sweet, quirky kid who killed himself…or hey, how about Phil Hartman? Judd Hirsch? Jennifer Marlowe? Somebody???) And why do I keep expecting the black guy to be blind?

    Nothing’s going to save this one short of a surreal, turnaround episode with lots of smiles and peppy show tunes, and right away! Sadly, I don’t even think Sean will be around to save Christmas.

  2. Howard Beale says:

    BINGO! Spot on review – The show was a painful reminder that time marches on but unfortunately some people can’t let go of past success and seek to recreate their glory days instead of building on them. Sean Hayes is an older, puffier Norma Desmond. I didn’t laugh once.

  3. Rachel Blunk says:

    Really, I agree with Tim I thought the show was pretty good. I’ll watch it again, but not the Michael J. Fox new show. I mean who are the writers of that show? They should be fired! The show doesn’t flow and it looks like the show is trying to be like “Modern Family.” So, “Sean Saves the world” isn’t that bad and I’m planning on watching it again.

  4. Tim Doyle says:

    A question and a comment for you, Brian. When was the last time you gave a favorable review to a multi-camera sitcom? And, in my long experience, I have never worked on a show where the laughs were “sweetened,” other than to occasionally bridge a tough edit. Whether you agree with their verdict or not the laughs heard during “Sean Saves The World” doubtless represent audience delight.

    • Nathan says:

      Tim-come on-as everyone knows, when you attend a live taping, you laugh-you giggle-even at the most mundane stuff-the “delight” means nothing. This show is average at best-that is very clear when you see the trailers and if youve seen a sneak like some of us

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