Tonight is the series premiere of the new show Sullivan & Son. It’s a new comedy series on TBS starring comedian Steve Byrne, who plays Steve Sullivan, a big city lawyer who comes home for his father’s birthday. His father, Dan Lauria of The Wonder Years fame, owns a bar. Given that the name of the show is Sullivan & Son, you can probably see where this is headed.
The show’s rounded out by Steve’s tough-as-nails Korean mother, an insecure sister, and a variety of side characters in various stages of drunkenness. It all has the makings of a brand-new Cheers — or does it?
Well, I can’t say that after watching the first couple episodes I was all that impressed. In fact, the show felt more like a staged play than an actual TV series given its stilted dialog, odd character placement, and dry personality. While the cast has potential — I’ve been a fan of Lauria for a long time and I’ve had limited exposure of Byrne’s standup — it’s not used in the least. The show leans on Steve’s half-Irish, half-Korean background, so much so that it falls prey to numerous, unfunny jokes on the behalf of Korean people, only made OK because of Byrne’s own heritage.
Moreover, the way that characters are introduced, especially the side characters, are incredibly sloppy and false-feeling. Instead of naturally slipping facts and anecdotes into dialog, we have random speeches of exposition made by the sidekicks, announcing their history and relationship with the rest of the characters. It just felt odd and, honestly, boring.
No part of this show made me want to care for the characters, except for my nostalgia for The Wonder Years. (And even then, Lauria just stood there and smiled, delivering only a few lines — if more than just this one: “Hey, it’s my birthday! Drinks on the house!”) While most of the time, for pilots, I can lean on benefit of the doubt and see where there’s room to grow, this show is lacking overall.
So should you tune in? I wouldn’t recommend it. Even for Byrne fans, this one’s a letdown.
*image courtesy of TBS