LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In general, TV’s relatively few surviving sitcoms have moved on from the multicamera family shows with the two weird and/or precocious kids and the old sofa around which most of the action and dialogue revolves. In general, that is, but not in the case of “Gary Unmarried,” which CBS has retooled to no great effect.
Despite its 1980s ambiance, you can’t simply dismiss the show. It has some genuinely funny lines, though it’s not clear who to thank for that. CBS pointedly omitted “writer” in its list of credits. One assumes, though, that creator Ed Yeager, an executive producer, had a hand in the dialogue.
Master sitcom director James Burrows, an executive producer here, sees to it that even the not-so-funny stuff doesn’t fall short by too much.
With all that, “Gary” looks and feels terribly familiar, a throwback to an era when sitcoms were mostly defined by how slavishly they followed a rhythm of setups, jokes and beats. That rhythm, once so popular with viewers in the past, is becoming today’s vaudeville.
Jay Mohr stars as Gary, the owner of a house-painting company who has been divorced three months from Allison (Paula Marshall), though it’s hard to understand why they married in the first place. He’s a free spirit, seat-of-your-pants guy and she’s compulsive, especially when it comes to following the latest diets or pop psychology.
They have two kids: Louise (Kathryn Newton), a budding feminist who worships Al Gore and Mahatma Gandhi, and Tom (Ryan Madrigal), who at 14 is terrified of girls, at least when it’s convenient for punch lines.
Others prominent in the cast are Jaime King, who plays Vanessa, the new love of Gary’s life, and Ed Begley Jr., who plays marriage counselor Walter Krandall. Each comes with their own surprise that unfolds in true sitcom style as opposed to anything that would make sense in real life.
Expectations are modest. CBS will be thrilled if the series can hold most of the audience from “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” but even that might be asking a lot.