TV Review: ‘Kevin From Work’

Noah Reid, Paige Spara, Matt Murray, Jordan Hinson, Punam Patel, Amy Sedaris

Kevin From Work” operates on two tiers, not quite equally. At its core is a sweet (if unrequited) romance, about a young guy who secretly pines for the gal who sits in the adjacent cubicle. And that’s enveloped, chaotically, by a wacky, over-the-top, frequently lewd comedy, derived from all the strange characters that surround them. The two tastes — sweet and silly — don’t always mesh, but there’s enough here to like to put this ABC Family comedy in the “recommended” column, with the understanding that keeping its balance might be a bigger job than “Kevin” can handle.

The title character (Noah Reid) has fared reasonably well at the faceless food-supply company at which he toils, but he’s jumped at the opportunity to work in Italy. No, it’s not because of his crazy boss (Amy Sedaris) or eccentric co-workers, but rather due to the fact that spending every day within a few feet of Audrey (Paige Spara) — whom he sees encircled by animated birds and animals, like a Disney princess — has become too much to take, inasmuch as she has a rather physically imposing boyfriend.

Still, after too many drinks at a farewell party, Kevin writes Audrey a letter — he rules out drunk dialing, to his credit — spilling out his feelings, only to discover (because this is a series, not a one-off) that the new job’s not going to happen. Faced with the terror of working alongside her if she reads the note, Kevin focuses over the rest of the premiere — in comically escalating fashion — on halting its delivery, while the fallout spills into the next half-hour and the series going forward.

The show’s creator, Barbara Adler, worked on “How I Met Your Mother,” which is a good shorthand for describing the project’s tone. That said, there are ancillary elements that are far bawdier than anything “Mother’s” Barney could conjure, including Audrey’s overwhelming roommate Patti (Punam Patel), who Kevin has to sweet talk hoping to access their mail, and who actually manages to make the act of stalking pretty funny.

Given his association with testosterone-laden action, McG (“Terminator Salvation,” “Charlie’s Angels”) might seem like an unorthodox choice to direct the pilot, but his quirky approach mostly works. That’s in part because Reid is just vulnerable and stammering enough as Kevin, and his starry-eyed view of Audrey helps soften the cartoon-like aspects that permeate the show elsewhere, inasmuch as this is ultimately a Kevin-centric look at the world, with Audrey as the center of the universe.

“You’ll never see any of us ever again,” one of Kevin’s co-workers says when everyone still thinks he’s leaving, a line that will surely echo through subsequent episodes.

In a movie, of course, Kevin would wind up with Audrey — after the prerequisite impediments — in screentime that would be the equivalent of about four episodes. Because this is TV, “Kevin” potentially has a lot more work to do, which, if the show holds up as well as its first few chapters, won’t be as as much of a hardship for us as it is for him.

TV Review: 'Kevin From Work'

(Series; ABC Family, Wed. Aug. 12, 8 p.m.)

Production: Produced by Wonderland Sound & Vision, Kapital Entertainment and 40 or 50 Years.

Crew: Executive producers, Barbara Adler, McG, Mary Viola, Aaron Kaplan; producer, Kathy Landsberg; director, McG; writer, Adler; camera, Ramsey Nickell; production designer, Cabot McMullen; editor, David L. Bertman; music, Dominic Lewis; casting, Brett Greenstein, Collin Daniel. 30 MIN.

Cast: Noah Reid, Paige Spara, Matt Murray, Jordan Hinson, Punam Patel, Amy Sedaris

More TV

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Related ABC Family Sets Premiere Dates for Five New Summer Series ABC Family Shifts to Focus on Younger Viewers with Sexier Programming Showtime released [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Ken Jeong to Star in CBS

    Ken Jeong to Star in CBS Comedy Pilot From 'Crazy Rich Asians' Author Kevin Kwan

    A “Crazy Rich Asians” reunion is happening at CBS. Ken Jeong has been cast in a lead role in the multi-camera comedy pilot “The Emperor of Malibu,” which is being co-written and executive produced by “Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan. In the series, Auggie, the son of a Chinese tech billionaire, announces his engagement [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content