×

TV Review: ‘The Millers’

Latest 'Big Bang' companion is just more '$#*! My Mom and Dad Say'

With:

Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale, Jayma Mays, J.B. Smoove, Nelson Franklin, Eve Moon

“The Big Bang Theory” is one of the smartest comedies around, which begs the question why CBS keeps pairing it with big, broad, dumb ones. Aping a previous casualty of “Big Bang’s” orbit with an extra parent thrown in, “The Millers” might as well be titled “$#*! My Mom and Dad Say,” with Will Arnett dialing things down a notch as the set-upon son, largely because his parents — played by Margo Martindale and Beau Bridges, who deserve better — are such cartoonish caricatures. The show certainly moves into a prime piece of real estate; how long it stays could be another matter.

Arnett plays Nathan Miller, a local TV reporter (“Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” J.B. Smoove is his cameraman) who hasn’t been able to break the news to his parents that his marriage is over. Yet far from being crestfallen when he shows up to tell them in person, the folks seize upon Nathan’s example to declare how unhappy they’ve been after 43 years of marriage, and immediately split up themselves. Mom moves in with Nathan, and dad takes up residence with Nathan’s sister (“Glee’s” Jayma Mays, a post-pilot replacement).

What ensues in a premiere with a blue-chip pedigree — written by “My Name Is Earl’s” Greg Garcia and directed by James Burrows — can only be described as shrill and silly (although slightly toned down in the revised version), with an emphasis on physical gags and fart jokes.

There’s nothing wrong with that per se, and Martindale in particular certainly gives the low-brow material her all, from an elaborate dance number to an attempt to vomit up a sleeping pill. Some of the bits are also relatable, like the way Bridges’ character is completely inept when it comes to dealing with anything resembling a modern appliance.

As for Arnett, he’s actually more palatable here — in what amounts to much more of a straight-man role — than his last few sitcom outings, which have included fleeting stops on NBC (“Up All Night”) and Fox (“Running Wilde”) in addition to his recurring “30 Rock” gig.

Still, the initial reliance on cheap gags and shouting matches doesn’t leave much room to breathe, especially with all the flatulence wafting through the air.

Although “The Millers” faces weak sitcom competition on NBC, it also feels ill-suited to capitalize on its “Big Bang” adjacency, and depending on how much of that lead-in it yields, the show could become a drag on CBS’ expanded comedy block. Should that happen, Nathan and his newly liberated folks shouldn’t become too attached to their new digs.

There’s too much talent involved to write off “The Millers” completely, but it’s one of those pilots only a mother — or at least, close friends and family — could genuinely love.

TV Review: 'The Millers'

(Series; CBS, Thurs. Oct. 3, 8:30 p.m.)

Production:

Filmed in Los Angeles by CBS Television Studios.

Crew:

Executive producer, Greg Garcia; director, James Burrows; writer, Garcia; camera, Gary Baum; production designer, Glenda Rovello; editor, Art Kellner; music, Danny Lux; casting, Dava Waite Peaslee. 30 MIN.

Cast:

Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale, Jayma Mays, J.B. Smoove, Nelson Franklin, Eve Moon

More TV

  • Bob GreenblattCreating Great Characters: Dick Wolf

    Bob Greenblatt on WarnerMedia Streaming Strategy: 'The Assets are Undeniable'

    CANNES — AT&T is ready for battle in the streaming wars. The new parent company of HBO and Warner Bros. has moved quickly to respond to consumer demand by marshaling its forces behind the launch next spring of HBO Max, WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told a crowd of international TV and digital executives here [...]

  • Roberto Gomez Bolanos Mexican actor Roberto

    Chespirito Media Universe in Development from Grupo Chespirito, Thr3 Media Group

    Mexican production companies Grupo Chespirito and Thr3 Media Group have come to terms on a deal to co-produce multi-media content and create the Chespirito Media Universe based on the characters and world of Mexico and Latin America’s most iconic TV creator, director, producer and actor, Chespirito. Thr3 Media Group was launched in January 2018 by [...]

  • Bastian-and-Fabienne_2btube-Office-1

    2btube Adds Lacoproductora to Facebook, YouTube Originals Alliances

    CANNES —  Fast-driving from a huge digital media publishing base into the creation and production of premium content for global platforms and beyond, top Spanish-language digital native media group 2btube has clinched a wide-ranging production partnership with José Miguel Contreras’ Madrid-based Lacoproductora. The deal comes fast on the heels of 2btube’s production alliance with Facebook [...]

  • LA-CHICA-QUE-LIMPIA-PICTURE

    Spain's Fasten Films Nabs Remake Rights to Argentine Series 'The Cleaning Lady' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Barcelona-based company Fasten Films has optioned Spanish and Portuguese adaptation rights to Argentine suspense series “La chica que limpia” (“The Cleaning Lady”). The deal was negotiated with Argentine distributors RM Vistar and GlowStar, who jointly handle the format’s international sales. A Mexican remake of the series is being produced by Turner Latin America, alongside BTF [...]

  • Motiv: Max ConzeFoto: © ProSiebenSat.1/Martin SaumweberDieses

    ProSiebenSat.1 Boss Max Conze Unfazed By the Invasion of the Digital Streaming Giants

    Max Conze, CEO of German broadcast company ProSiebenSat.1 since June last year, appeared relatively relaxed about the prospect of the coming invasion of new subscription streaming players like Disney Plus into his territory when speaking to journalists at TV market and conference Mipcom in Cannes Tuesday. “Disney will not lock away all their content,” he [...]

  • Irmaos Freitas

    Amazon Prime Video takes Turner’s ‘Freitas Brothers’

    CANNES — In yet another – and significant – Latin America distribution deal for the now highly active OTT giant, Amazon Prime Video has acquired Brazilian and pan-Spanish-speaking Latin American SVOD rights to Turner Latin America’s highly anticipated “Freitas Brothers.” The announcement was made late Tuesday by Turner Latin America at Cannes Mipcom TV and [...]

  • Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker,

    Nonsense Ellen DeGeneres Question Derails an Otherwise Substantive Democratic Debate (Column)

    The fourth Democratic debate was dangerously close to being substantive. For almost three (3!) hours, the twelve (12!) candidates onstage tackled questions on foreign policy, reproductive rights, health care, gun control, big tech, and the opioid crisis. While the other debates — and indeed, the entire 2016 presidential campaign — have been marked by meme-able [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content