TV Review: ‘Crowded’

Crowded Review Patrick Warburton Carrie Preston
Vivian Zink/NBC

Say “Stop!” any time if you’ve heard this one: Two parents are happily embracing the prospect of being empty nesters – “Sex whenever we want!” “Smoking pot in the house!” – when both of their twentysomething daughters unexpectedly move back home. Were it not for Patrick Warburton and Carrie Preston in the leads, there would be precious little to recommend “Crowded,” a sitcom whose most honest title would simply be “Tired.”

NBC will give the show an obligatory preview behind “The Voice,” but one suspects the crowds will dissipate soon after. Created by Suzanne Martin (“Hot in Cleveland”), and boasting ace sitcom director James Burrows, “Crowded” feels like a throwback on every conceivable level. And while there’s a certain current element to kids whose financial struggles have forced them to move back home, the nature of the jokes quickly makes this feel as if the series emerged from an early-1990s time warp.

Warburton’s Mike and Preston’s Martina are at first devastated about their children being gone (in an opening sequence that flies through the premise), but they don’t have much time to get acclimated to their new-found freedom before the pair (Miranda Cosgrove, Mia Serafino) return – one a free-spirited actress, the other a buttoned-down brainiac. Moreover, Mike’s dad (Stacy Keach) and stepmom (Carlease Burke), who excel at getting under his skin, scuttle their plans to move to Florida, adding another generational layer and a few topical jokes, as dad crows about how progressive he is because his wife is black, while admitting that he misses Richard Nixon.

Warburton is one of those performers who was virtually created in the lab for sitcoms (with his deep-set eyes and rumbling baritone, he’s practically a walking cartoon character), but there’s only so much that can be done with a show so mired in clichés. On top of that, NBC will schedule the series – whose most memorable footnote might be that Burrows notched his 1,000th directing credit on it – with “The Carmichael Show” on Sunday nights, historically not the most hospitable environment for half-hours.

In a larger sense, “Crowded” makes its debut at a moment where multi-camera comedies have seen their market share dwindle, to the point where there’s a tendency to root for something to break through. Still, when the goods are as uninspired as this one, even one can feel like a crowd.

TV Review: 'Crowded'

(Series; NBC, Tues. March 15, 10 p.m.)

Production

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

Crew

Executive producers, Suzanne Martin, Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, James Burrows; director, Burrows; co-executive producers, Sam Johnson, Chris Marcil, Tom Hertz, Bob Heath; producer, Mark Nasser; director, Burrows; writer, Martin; camera, Gary Baum; editor, Sue Federman; music, Chris Alan Lee, Jesse Novak (theme); casting, Dava Waite. 30 MIN.

Cast

Patrick Warburton, Carrie Preston, Miranda Cosgrove, Mia Serafino, Stacy Keach, Carlease Burke

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  1. JOSEPH LUCIANO says:

    Miranda Cosgrove, lauded as “the good girl” in the March 23, 2011 New York Times Magazine article, plays “Shea,” a role sharply different from her pre-teen character “Carly Shay” in Nickelodeon’s iCarly, whose fans may feel shock when they hear Miranda’s character ask for information about post-coital protocol. (She wonders whether she should text a thank you to her sex partner; and later voices a word that gets bleeped. But, from the context, we all know what she said.) I like it and will have to adjust to Miranda’s new saucy character.

  2. Nancy Robinson says:

    Ok.. so this show is really really dumb. The daughters are 2 of the most terrible actors I have seen on television. The best are the 2 leads and the dad and stepmom…Stacy Keach and Patrick Warburton are truly the funniest pair on tv..KEEP DAD AND SON… LOSE daughters and wives…and this show might make it into the top 10!

  3. D. James says:

    I didn’t find this show great at the beginning, but decided to give it time for the characters to gel since I am a Patrick Warburton fan. I was never a fan of Stacy Keach, but he scene where he improvises his first traffic report in the helicopter had me laughing to the point of tears. The rest of that episode was so-so, but I recorded it and went back to the helicopter scene over and over. I’ll continue to watch in the hopes that it finds the right balance.

  4. Shelly Visco says:

    I love this show. I look forward to watching it. I think every actor is interesting. Love how the two sisters are so different. I already love Patrick Warburton from Rules of Engagement. The Mom is new to me, but I like her alot. The inter racial couple took me by surprise for a minute, but in a good way. Good actors. Funny actors. I hope this show stays on for awhile. Always wondered who decides that.

  5. steve says:

    I loved it. Older daughter is FINE!!!

  6. Tad says:

    Show wasn’t good but Carrie Preston was a disaster.

  7. Linda says:

    Sorry started out funny but got worse the only actors I thought were funny were Patrick Warburton and Stacy Keach and I didn’t appreciate the lesbian kissing scene!!

  8. Really sad when you want to watch a tv show with children in the house and you can’t. I was embarrassed that my 9 yr. old had to hear or see the content. Call me old fashioned but isn’t there any more shows like the middle or like to see with your kids?? Had to shut it off in its first episode, all about sex, gay, black etc. shame on you NBC..

    • Robert Minsky says:

      I totally agree with your comment about what the show presented. In addition to that it is a terrible show with so much over acting. I will turn the channel.

  9. Kimberly Bjd says:

    Warburton is GREAT! Carrie Preston sucks! I am not sure why she EVER won an Emmy for ANYTHING based on this awful performance! I like the show all right, but I hope the performers get better!

  10. marie says:

    I love Patrick Warburton, but this show was PAINFUL. Carrie Preston was horrible, Patrick was wooden, the daughters were like nails on a chalkboard. I haven’t seen a show in years where the acting was so obvious and bad. I predict it will be gone before the season is over. At least I hope so.

  11. it has a laugh track! OMG it is just terrible.

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