Lacking on so many levels, the WB’s “Greetings From Tucson” is in need of humor, depth, strong characterizations that go against stereotypes and anything that could make a teenager relate to the action onscreen. Show appears as if it’s developed for the 10-and-younger crowd that tunes in on Saturdays, hoping to see a kid rebel and then make up with his parents who have forced him to move to a new city. Added to the mix are an assortment of uncomfortable Mexican jokes that won’t raise a chuckle out of anything but the laugh track.
Fifteen-year-old David Tiant (Pablo Santos) is new to Tucson, Ariz., and, for some bizarre reason, is already heading to a school cotillion, where he plans to take neighbor Sarah (Sara Paxton).
After “Tucson” gets through the lazy Mexican jokes and the fact that the children are half-Mexican, half-Irish, attention turns toward preparations for the big dance. David wants a sharkskin suit and believes that that’s what he has purchased until he gets home. Only then does he realize dad Joaquin (Julio Oscar Mechoso) has switched it with a conservative brown one. Perturbed, David takes it outside where dad is building a wall and he throws the clothes into a wheelbarrow of wet cement.
Eventually it becomes a question of right and wrong, and after various parties take responsibility for their actions, all is well in the Tiant household. Grandma Magdalena (Lupe Ontiveros) is there only for the purpose of making jokes about the similarities between a retirement community and prison, and each character goes from one tete-a-tete to another, some peppered with laughs, others just forced confrontation.
Show is based on the life of creator Peter Murrieta, though it plays with a certain falseness except for nice chat. The best note struck in the pilot comes when freeloading uncle Ernesto (Jacob Vargas) explains the difference between him and Joaquin as the Rolling Stones vs. the Beatles. Joaquin is as tight as a Beatles song, too perfect, Ernesto suggests; by playing the Stones’ “Salt of the Earth” as the show closes, he gets to annoy his brother and make a statement about this extended family.
Music from Los Lobos, from the theme forward, is consistently sharp and varied. It’s the best thing here.