Carpoolers

Driving above the speed limit in the diamond lane toward "hiatus," "Carpoolers" is  shockingly dull and unfunny with Fred Goss shoehorned in an uninspiring role.

With:
Gracen - Fred Goss Laila - Faith Ford Laird - Jerry O'Connell Aubrey - Jerry Minor Dougie - Tim Peper Cindy - Allison Munn Marmaduke - TJ Miller

Driving above the speed limit in the diamond lane toward “hiatus,” “Carpoolers” is  shockingly dull and unfunny with Fred Goss shoehorned in an uninspiring role. ABC was clearly desperate to find a show with a quartet of men; as unlikable as the guys are in “Big Shots,” “Carpoolers” takes it one step further with a team of dullards commuting to a random office in L.A. This sitcom is a Sigalert in progress.

Show brims with stereotypes, even once we are lucky enough to get out of the car. One carpool of old-timers stops for no reason in the parking lot; the “rich carpoolers” are, for some odd reason, eating sushi for breakfast while they ruthlessly snag a parking space. And within the main characters, three of them are under a woman’s thumb — apparently getting through a marriage like it’s a jail sentence.

The fourth, Dougie (Tim Peper), is blissed out in love with his wife, though others see his state-of-mind as temporary.  The softest character of the batch, Dougie is also the newest member of the carpool.

Aubrey (Jerry Minor),  whose wife watches TV all day while he readies  the children — it looks like there are at least six of them — for school, is week one’s driver. Marriage counselor Gracen (Fred Goss) is concerned that his wife (Faith Ford) has a higher income, while newly divorced Laird (Jerry O’Connell), a dentist who has lost everything except an exercise machine,  is attempting to resolve Gracen’s problem.

When Gracen returns home, his realtor wife is celebrating  having flipped a house — twice — and his lay-about son suddenly has a well-paying job, too. Wife then learns she has flipped the house three times, which Gracen points out is impossible. Someone on the “Carpoolers” staff should have pointed out that this is not funny either.

O’Connell provides the lone reason to watch  as his character strides the line between devious and well-intentioned. Laird is also the one man who appears to have any gumption — or decent lines for that matter.

Sitcom feels like it was developed by committee and a research staff. One man is strong, dim and a bit sexy; one is hen-pecked; another is vacant and the fourth is bland. Faith Ford, of course, is bubbly. TJ Miller, who plays the dim-wit son Marmaduke, displays some sharp comic timing in the two episodes supplied, but it seems unlikely his character will be used for much more than a punching bag.

Despite having credits directing episodes of the brilliant “Arrested Development,” the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, deliver a flat effort here. Show was created by Bruce McColloch, a veteran writer-actor who parlayed his Kids in the Hall experience into a stint on “Saturday Night Live” in the mid-1990s.

Carpoolers

ABC, Tue., Oct. 2, 8:30 p.m.

Production: Taped in Los Angeles by ABC Studios. Executive producers, Bruce McColloch, Barry Frank, Justin Falvey, David Miner, Anthony and Joe DeRusso; producer, Dan Kaplow; directors, Anthony and Joe Russo; writer, McColloch.

Crew: Camera, Jimi Hawkinson; production design, Derek Hill; editor, Jon Dudkowski; music, David Schwartz, Gabrielle Mann; casting,  Suzanne Goddard-Smythe. RUNNING TIME: 30 MIN.

Cast: Gracen - Fred Goss Laila - Faith Ford Laird - Jerry O'Connell Aubrey - Jerry Minor Dougie - Tim Peper Cindy - Allison Munn Marmaduke - TJ Miller

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