(The Canceled Classics series is about my favorite, prematurely canceled TV shows.)
This show follows the struggles and everyday life of an extended American family living in the suburbs. No guns, no car chases, no mysteries. However, it is far from being boring.
While the family does face interesting and sometimes unusual problems, the storyline is only there to emphasize the best aspect of the show: the acting.
The tip of the hat to all actors, including the children: they portray the slightly wacky family members very well. The characters are not caricatures, they are exactly as goofy and eccentric as any of us. (Okay, maybe a bit more.)
The situations, conversations feel very natural, mostly because the dialog is partially improvised.
It’s no “Curb your enthusiasm” crap with annoying plots and retarded characters. Here improvisation makes the whole thing feel like a documentary. There are unfinished sentences, stuttering, talking over each other’s head, stuff which would be cut from other formats.
These little things and the liberal direction make the experience genuine: a person burbling with laughter at someone goofing around, is not acting just reacting. You can see the effort as she tries to keep her act together, barely avoiding spitting out the tea in her mouth, while shaking in laughter. You can see the unadulterated fascination in her eyes as she watches a fellow actress doing an impression of a relative.
Similarly, moments of sadness also feel authentic and have a big impact on the viewer. At one point a character, angry and shaken, bursts out in a monologue on a family event. I felt discomfort and sorry for her, because that woman crying on the screen was really hurt. I was also somewhat ashamed because I felt like part of that group of family and friends who – even if inadvertently – caused distress for that woman.
So there are funny bits, dramatic bits, effortlessly depicted family relations. Great acting all around, from the 4 years old little girl to the 70 something great-grandma.
Fred Goss, creator and star of the show, done something outstanding. This short lived series is one of my favorite TV shows ever.