“Lost at Home” is the feel-good sitcom of the year, a 22-minute exercise in depicting a workaholic father reconnecting with his wife and three kids. It leans hard on the poignancy button, and the pilot has its schlocky moments, but there’s promise here as ABC takes a subject generally relegated to shouting-‘n-pouting dramas and makes it work as a comedy.
Michael Davis (Mitch Rouse) works endless hours at a Manhattan ad agency while Rachel (Connie Britton) raises the family at their farmhouse 40 minutes outside the city. Pilot opens in their bedroom with her announcement that she has called a lawyer — divorce is the presumed subject — and eventually her criticism is the age-old “I don’t know you anymore” and “You don’t know who the kids are.” He responds with one-liners.
After soliciting the advice of his boss Jordan King (Gregory Hines), Davis decides to turn things around. He works his way up the ladder, attempting to connect with 7-year-old Joshua (Gavin Fink) at breakfast, 13-year-old Sara (Leah Pipes) at dinner and high school football star Will (Stark Sands) in the locker room. As Davis dives in, he finds a family at a crossroads — Sara’s best friend is a guy (Tucker, played by Aaron Hill), Josh tries to hard to be a perfect child, and virgin Will has a sure thing date lined on Friday — and he assumes the role of a parent trying, for lack of a better term, to “get their minds right.”
Casting is on the mark as Rouse and Britton make a perfect young couple — they got married at 19 and had their first kid at 20 — sharing a chemistry that rarely shows up this early in any sitcom. Hines is given more humorous lines than he has seen in two decades, and his delivery is consistently sharp. The kids work, too, as believable youngsters looking for love and direction.
Writer-creator Michael Jacobs and director Andy Cadiff deliver setups and payoffs with consistency, though Ray Colcord’s music is over-the-top at times.