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‘9JKL’ is Filled with Sitcom Tropes
October 2, 2017  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 

If you see that one of CBS’s new fall sitcoms is titled 9JKL, you might wonder, “Huh?”

So here’s the explanation. Those are the numbers of three adjacent New York apartments. And if you never go there, you won’t have missed much.

9JKL, which premieres at 8:30 p.m. ET Monday, follows the often-exasperating adventures of Josh Roberts (Mark Feuerstein), a TV actor who has moved back to New York from L.A. after his show was cancelled and his wife divorced him.

So now, in his mid-30s, he’s living next door to his parents, Harry and Judy, played by sitcom vets Elliott Gould and Linda Lavin.

To make it a total family affair, the apartment on the other side is occupied by Josh’s brother Andrew (David Walton), plus Andrew’s wife Eve (Liza Lapira) and their infant son.

That’s the setup. Here’s the problem. You have already seen or can predict every joke in the show.

Harry Roberts is a successful professional. He is also the classic oblivious grandfather. He walks around in his underwear, he is obsessed with medical issues like his toe, and he blurts out inappropriate comments about everyone’s sex life without a clue that he passed the TMI barrier four sentences earlier.

Judy Roberts is the classic oblivious overbearing mother. She pays the doorman in the building to tell her every time Josh comes in, so she can open her apartment door and guilt him into coming in.

Andrew Roberts is a successful surgeon who’s good pals with his brother but also harbors lingering neurotic resentment that Mom liked Josh better. Which Mom, being oblivious, did.

Andrew explains that he’s only living in this apartment until his duplex on Park Avenue is finished. It will have heated toilets in every bathroom, he announces proudly, and no one cares.

We mention the toilet line only because the creative freshness of a sitcom often runs in inverse proportion to the number of times it falls back on bathroom, sex, and bodily function jokes.

9JKL does that a lot, and the fact 2 Broke Girls made it work doesn’t invalidate the general rule.

Josh himself, who starred for years in a hit drama called Blind Cop, is really just trying to get back on his feet. He’s looking for a new gig and new squeeze.

He seems to be making progress on the squeeze front until the family gets involved, at which point his hot date gets hotter. It topples into purgatory.  

Knowing that ahead of time isn’t a spoiler because nothing in this show is a surprise. The Appalachian Trail has not been hiked as often as this show’s path has been hiked by sitcoms.

This isn’t a knock on Feuerstein, who co-created the show loosely based on his experience moving back in alongside his own parents during the eight years he was playing a doctor on USA’s delightful Royal Pains.

It’s entirely possible that Feuerstein’s real-life interaction with his parents was fresher and funnier than the sitcom version. If so, that’s the version you’d want to see.

9JKL is performed well enough. The actors just don’t have much raw material, even with a few gentle inside jokes like Josh being told he could never play a doctor.

In today’s crowded TV world, there are better places to go than 9 J, K or L.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Forget Amos 'n' Andy, this is the MOST cliche-infected, ethnically offensive sitcom since LIFE WITH LUIGI https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_with_Luigi 65 years ago. Did Les Moonves owe someone a favor? There is no logical reason to inflict it on Monday night audiences.
Nov 11, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
 
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