×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Center of the Universe

Critics invariably have a least-favorite new series each fall, and CBS has obliged with "Center of the Universe," a colossal waste of a talented cast in a show with little point or purpose. Blessed with a hammocked berth between "King of Queens" and "CSI: New York," sheer inertia is this sitcom's best chance of not becoming a chalk outline.

With:
John Barnett - John Goodman Kate Barnett - Jean Smart Tommy Barnett - Diedrich Bader Lily Barnett - Melinda McGraw Miles Barnett - Spencer Breslin Art Barnett - Ed Asner Marge Barnett - Olympia Dukakis

Critics invariably have a least-favorite new series each fall, and CBS has generously obliged with “Center of the Universe,” a colossal waste of a talented cast in a show with little point or purpose. John Goodman has the title role as the set-upon guy who holds a crazy family together, but crass writing and overly broad gags result in a series that makes “Yes, Dear” look like “Masterpiece Theater.” Blessed with a hammocked berth between “King of Queens” and “CSI: New York,” sheer inertia is this sitcom’s best chance of not becoming a chalk outline.

John Barnett (Goodman) and his wife Kate (Jean Smart) love each other, but oy, the relatives. Their kid (“The Cat in the Hat’s” Spencer Breslin) is a nerd who favors sport coats, John’s brother (Diedrich Bader) is a slacker, his sister (Melinda McGraw) has man trouble, and his Viagra-popping dad (Ed Asner) is aggravating his equally nutty mom (Olympia Dukakis).

Despite all that to keep them busy, in the premiere, John and Kate decide to renew their wedding vows, an event of course threatened by members of the wacky brood each imploding for one reason or another. This forces John to make like the COTU and reestablish order in his little world.

Beyond the fact that nearly everyone here has been in a much better comedy, there’s something decidedly retro about the program, with producing team Mitchel Katlin and Nat Bernstein aspiring to a level of zaniness that never materializes. Although everyone appears to be giving their all, the tone is thus uniformly lifeless — perhaps because the entire show feels as if it were pieced together from parts of old sitcoms.

Credit Goodman’s work ethic between this and his voice stint on “Father of the Pride.” After a seminal comedy like “Roseanne,” though, it’s too bad he hasn’t been more selective in subsequent sitcom choices, as anyone who remembers “Normal, Ohio” can attest.

The same can largely be said of CBS’ comedy development, with “Two and a Half Men” representing a recent anomaly by actually being funny. Granted, the network clearly has no intention of reinventing the wheel, but sister Viacom networks Nick at Nite and TV Land already serve up more laudable reruns nightly for those hungering for this kind of warmed-over dish.

Center of the Universe

CBS, Wed. Oct. 6, 9:30 p.m.

Production: Taped in L.A. by Tannenbaum Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Prods. Executive producers, Andy Ackerman, Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, Mitchel Katlin, Nat Bernstein, Alan Kirschenbaum; producer, Bari Halle Cannon; director, Ackerman; writers, Bernstein, Katlin.

Crew: Camera, Steven V. Silver; editor, Bill Lowe; music, Rick Marotta; casting, Nikki Valko, Ken Miller. 30 MIN.

Cast: John Barnett - John Goodman Kate Barnett - Jean Smart Tommy Barnett - Diedrich Bader Lily Barnett - Melinda McGraw Miles Barnett - Spencer Breslin Art Barnett - Ed Asner Marge Barnett - Olympia Dukakis

More TV

  • Speaker of the United States House

    Nancy Pelosi, Ava DuVernay Honored at VH1 Trailblazers Event

    Cher is feeling a little better about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. “When I see Trump spew his hate and tell his gazillion lies, I get pissed off and feel uneasy at the same time,” the Oscar winner and frequent Trump critic said on Wednesday while introducing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at “VH1 [...]

  • Wendy Williams

    Wendy Williams Sets March 4 Return to Syndicated Talk Show

    After a six-week leave with health issues, Wendy Williams is set to return to her syndicated daytime talk show on March 4. Williams has been on leave from “The Wendy Williams Show” since Jan. 18 to deal with health issues including a fractured shoulders and complications from Graves disease, an immune system disorder which the [...]

  • Kelly Abcarian - Nielsen

    Nielsen Forms Addressable TV Ad Group After Buying Sorenson Media's Assets for $11.25 Million

    Nielsen thinks it has the pieces in place to finally drive up the scale of addressable TV advertising, targeted based on a television household’s profile the way internet ads have been served for years. The media-measurement firm has formed Nielsen Advanced Video Advertising, a new group focusing on developing addressable advertising initially for internet-connected smart [...]

  • Telefonica’s Movistar + Ups Pay TV

    Telefonica’s Movistar + Ups Spanish Pay TV Growth by 28% in 2018

    MADRID —  Telefonica, the European telecom which has made the largest bet on content over the last two years, saw a 6% year-in-year growth in pay TV customers in Spain, the country where that drive is most noticeable, Telefonica confirmed on a Thursday conference call, walking analysts through its full-year 2018 results. Net subscriber additions [...]

  • Name Of The Rose

    Germany's Tele München Group Sold to Investment Firm KKR

    Global investment firm KKR has acquired Tele München Group, one of Germany’s largest television businesses. The surprise deal was announced Thursday. New York-based global investor KKR has holdings in multiple sectors, including infrastructure, energy and real estate. Tele München Group, or TMG, is active in both production and distribution; its projects include the highly anticipated [...]

  • UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report: Women, Minorities

    Hollywood Diversity Gains in TV but Falls Short in Movies

    Minorities and women have registered gains in several key areas of television but women continue to lag in movies, according to a report issued Thursday by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. “My basic take is that TV is improving more for minorities and women than film,” said Dr. Darnell [...]

  • 60 Minutes" reporter Lara Logan takes

    Lara Logan Says She's Been 'Targeted' for Her Claims of Liberal Media Bias

    Former CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan appeared on “Hannity” Wednesday evening to expand on her recent remarks characterizing the media as “mostly liberal.” “It’s obvious, right, because you get targeted,” she said, explaining her earlier comments that she was committing “professional suicide” by criticizing the media. “It’s the same group of people, they’re already [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content