×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Everything’s Relative

Raw and frantic though it may be, "Everything's Relative" is funnier than any comedy NBC has managed to launch this season (with the possible exception of "Wind on Water," which wasn't supposed to be a comedy). In a season littered with punchless atrocities like "Encore! Encore!" and "Conrad Bloom," it at least tries to push the sitcom envelope with some clever, original devices.

With:
Jake Gorelick - Jeffrey Tambor Mickey Gorelick - Jill Clayburgh Leo Gorelick - Kevin Rahm Marty Gorelick - Eric Schaeffer Trina - Maureen Cassidy

Raw and frantic though it may be, “Everything’s Relative” is funnier than any comedy NBC has managed to launch this season (with the possible exception of “Wind on Water,” which wasn’t supposed to be a comedy). In a season littered with punchless atrocities like “Encore! Encore!” and “Conrad Bloom,” it at least tries to push the sitcom envelope with some clever, original devices. And, hey, say this for the show: unlike many other primetime sitcoms the Peacock has developed over the past few years, this ain’t about a single woman in New York!

It also helps that the midseason entry boasts real talent in leads Jeffrey Tambor, fresh from a triumphant run as the legendary Hank Kingsley on HBO’s “Larry Sanders Show,” and Jill Clayburgh, who appears unfairly to have been put out to pasture due Aging Actress Syndrome. Clayburgh, who is just starting to reappear after her run as a 1970s box office star, is still a vibrant performer with plenty of mileage left. It’s great to have her back.

Whether “Everything’s Relative” is the vehicle that powers Clayburgh back into the steady flow of Hollywood traffic remains to be seen. And indeed, the opening seg, like so many pilots, flails around to find its footing before steadying itself in a much more inspired second show next week. It likewise would be easy to predict that the sitcom is a mite too stereotypically Jewish in its sensibility to click with the masses, but all bets are clearly off on that score after “Seinfeld.”

In this one, we have your basic dysfunctional family plagued by overbearing parents and a pair of grown sons who bear all of the typical scars suffered by Adult Children of Neurotics (ACN for short). At the center of this foolishness we find Leo Gorelick (Kevin Rahm), a hypersensitive comedy writer who never seems to have any time to actually write. His type-A brother Marty (Eric Schaeffer) is a twice-divorced doctor who is too busy whining to to treat any patients.

Then again, Leo and Marty never had a chance as the product of not just a broken home but a home shattered into tiny rubble. Their dad, Jake (Tambor), is a narcissistic, overbearing putz (see Hank Kingsley), too busy looking in the mirror to notice the world. Jake has been divorced for better than 20 years from Mickey (Clayburgh), who spends her days devising ways to invade Leo’s space and is deluded just enough to carry a flickering torch for her ex.

The problem with this whole setup from a comedic standpoint is that it’s difficult to separate the twits from the jerks, leaving pretty much no one to root for. This becomes obvious in “Everything’s” premiere, when Leo breaks up with his prissy girlfriend, and mom takes that as her cue to move into an apartment across the street from her son. He would prefer that she set down roots somewhere a tad further away in, say, Siberia.

Marty, meanwhile, is content to reside at the center of his own peculiar universe as he prepares to marry for a third time, while Jake does a lot of pointless emoting. On the whole, opening seg from exec producer-scribe Mitchell Hurwitz is all over the map, failing to build its case for familial angst with much conviction or to incorporate co-star Maureen Cassidy (playing Leo’s writing partner Trina) very effectively.

Yet even in the so-so pilot helmer John Fortenberry showcase its potential with some quirky, stylish trappings. And this promise builds in a second episode that is far crisper, more focused and far more irreverent than the first. Tambor and Clayburgh suddenly start to click, and both Rahm and Schaeffer display a canny chemistry.

The follow-up episode features some legitimately adroit touches, such as the seamless insertion of mock home-movie footage and one amusing — if ultimately slightly overused — gambit in which the word “LIE” is flashed in huge block letters to illustrate one character’s dishonesty. There are likewise a couple of shrewd running gags launched here, leaving one with the feeling that this show might just deserve to live for a while after all.

Of course, “Everything’s” is so broadly cynical that the invariable huggy-kissy family lessons imparted at the end ring jarringly false.

Something will need to be done to remedy that. But at least this show expends some real energy trying to be unique. That alone elevates it a rung above most of its primetime competish. Tech credits, particularly in flashback sequences, are tops.

Everything's Relative

NBC; Tues. April 6, 9:30 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Witt-Thomas Prods. in association with NBC Studios and Warner Bros. TV. Executive producers, Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas, Nina Wass, Mitchell Hurwitz; producer, Sue Palladino; director, John Fortenberry; writer, Hurwitz

Crew: Camera, Richard Brown; production designer, Michael Hynes; editor, Peter Chakos; music, David Schwartz; sound, Kerry Boggio; casting, Allison Jones. 30 MINUTES.

With: Jake Gorelick - Jeffrey Tambor Mickey Gorelick - Jill Clayburgh Leo Gorelick - Kevin Rahm Marty Gorelick - Eric Schaeffer Trina - Maureen Cassidy

More Film

  • Hugh Jackman Sings Happy Birthday to

    Hugh Jackman Leads Massive One-Man Show Crowd in 'Happy Birthday' for Ian McKellen

    Hugh Jackman may have had to skip Ian McKellen’s birthday party to perform his one-man show, “The Man, The Music, The Show,” but that didn’t mean he couldn’t celebrate his “X-Men” co-star’s 80th. Jackman took a moment at the Manchester Arena Saturday to lead the sold-out audience — some 50,000 strong — in a rendition [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Dominates International Box Office With $121 Million

    Disney’s “Aladdin” is showing plenty of worldwide drawing power with $121 million overseas for the weekend, opening in first place in nearly all international markets. The reboot of the 1992 animated classic has received strong family attendance with a significant gain on Saturday and Sunday. China leads the way with an estimated $18.7 million for [...]

  • Aladdin

    Box Office: 'Aladdin' Taking Flight With $105 Million in North America

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” is flying high with an estimated $105 million in North America during the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend. It’s the sixth-highest Memorial Day weekend total ever, topping the 2011 mark of $103.4 million for “The Hangover Part II.” The top total came in 2007, when “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” [...]

  • Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special

    Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special Mention Winner ‘Monster God’

    CANNES – An exploration of the ramifications of God, “Monster God,” from Argentina’s Agustina San Martín, took a Special Mention – an effective runner’s up prize – on Saturday night at this year’s Cannes Film Festival short film competition. It’s not difficult to see why, especially when jury president Claire Denis own films’ power resists [...]

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content