Who: “Sean Saves the World,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on NBC, Thursdays at 9:00 PM.
What: “Sean Saves the World,” a situation comedy featuring Sean Hayes (formerly of Will & Grace fame), who plays a gay father with a teenage daughter, whose mother moved away and left her behind. Sean must navigate being a full-time parent while simultaneously meeting the demands of his eccentric and task-oriented boss at work.
When: The series premiered on NBC, Thursday, October 3, 2013, at 9:00 PM.
Where: I think it might be Los Angeles, California…but I’m still not sure.
Why: Sean Hayes, of course, played Jack McFarland on the iconic sitcom Will & Grace and, sadly, hasn’t done much since. He is an executive producer for Grimm, the cult supernatural series currently airing on NBC, and that’s all I know. I was interested in seeing what Sean could bring to the table after all these years, particularly since I did love Jack so much.
Sean is divorced, having discovered that he is gay shortly after marrying his ex-wife. Their union, however, produced daughter Ellie, who has moved in with Sean following her mother’s decision to move, and Ellie’s decision to stay in familiar surrounds. Sean and Ellie must navigate their new full time parent/child relationship, while Sean deals with the pitfalls of his job at an online retail company, featuring co-workers including steadfast Liz (Megan Hilty of Smash). In the meantime, Sean’s mother and he also have a complicatedly dysfunctional relationship (she’s played by Linda Lavin…it’s Alice!).
I initially rated the pilot 2 stars, which earns a three episode trial. After three episodes, my verdict is:
Sean Saves the World is a non-starter. There are funnier sitcoms on air at present, including newer offerings and old standbys.
How – as in How’s It Going? (Final Thoughts)
What works for Sean Saves the World:
1) Sean Hayes is still funny. He still provides enough antic energy to elicit some genuine laughs.
2) His chemistry with his daughter on the show is the true heart of this sitcom. Their sarcastic banter is fresh and realistic.
3) His co-worker, Hunter (Echo Kellum), is – hands down – the funniest character on the show. His one-liners and clipped delivery make it worthwhile.
What doesn’t work:
1) Megan Hilty. She’s not funny. She lacks comedic timing; everything sounds forced. She’s a fine actress, but this is the wrong vehicle for her.
2) Thomas Lennon. His awkward, creepy boss is cringe-worthy antagonism for Sean. Also, the clueless boss trope might be a bit overdone (and was done better by Steve Carell).
3) Linda Lavin. I want her to be funnier than she is – I mean, she was Alice, for Pete’s Sake! – but mother Lorna is one step away from Norman Bates’ mother, and it’s sad and disturbing, not funny.
In the end, NBC ordered three or four more scripts because the network seemingly wants to like this gamble of a show and wants an audience to find it. The problem is, the execution of the purported laughable moments is so messy and so uneven, this viewer thinks any additional airings, even with plenty of tweaking and massaging, are too little, too late. Also, the laugh track and/or editing has not improved.
What’s worse: the writers and/or Mr. Hayes appear to enjoy beating jokes to death. The third episode focused on a manic Sean dating a man that his mother set him up with (the son of a current lover of hers, of all things). He spends the entire date worrying after Ellie, who has gone to a party and ultimately left her cell phone in a taxi. He grows increasingly more Jack MacFarland-like, which is good, but then takes it too far, which is not good, at last chasing his date away (and rightfully so). In the end, the whole episode left this viewer with a sizable headache and no real enjoyment or entertainment value.
The concept/thought of bringing Sean Hayes and other actors in this program back to the small screen was not a bad call. Unfortunately, the writers’/producers’ execution of the inherent theme of this program is too unorganized to be truly effective. In the end, the show is only occasionally funny and does not have enough charm underlying its ensemble of players to make up for the lack of laughs.
In the end, Sean doesn’t really save the world. He sort of runs around a lot of his own corner of it, has some really high-pitched/howler monkey type moments, and a few tender hugs with mother and/or daughter. Sean, more or less, lives in the world like any other human being, gay or straight, with a demanding career and single parenting duties, and the mundane quality is not masked by the talents of the ensemble.
Food for thought to NBC: Echo Kellum earning his own show would not be a bad idea. Just saying.
Sean Saves the World is not for me, nor is it for a horde of other viewers. Fans of the show may need to start a write-in campaign, but I don’t think it’s worth saving, as much as this viewer or NBC wants it to be.
Sean Saves the World has had additional episodes ordered but not a full season. If the recent trends continue, though NBC sees fit to give it one last shot, this sitcom will likely be dead on arrival by the holidays. Sorry, Sean Hayes.