There’s an intriguing comedy lurking in the idea of adult children moving home with their parents. Sadly, “Crowded” is not it.
Filled with predictable jokes, stereotypical characters and situations that wouldn’t have been fresh two decades ago, the new comedy wastes its premise and all but deserts star Patrick Warburton, the only one who appears to be making an effort.
He’s a stoic dad who looks forward to an empty next (and uncensored swearing) only to discover his daughters can’t get gainful employment and decide to move back home.
While he and his wife (played by Carrie Preston) don’t want to turn them out, they do resent the intrusion. Those nights of adult fun are gone, replaced by awkward attempts at maintaining boundaries and splitting a bottle of wine four ways.
Miranda Cosgrove plays the brainy daughter caught in a shaky business economy; Mia Serafino is the free-spirited one whose YouTube videos haven’t exactly jumpstarted an acting career.
For good measure, Warburton’s dad (played by Stacy Keach, of course) and stepmom (Carlease Burke) have decided against moving to Florida in order to help him with the grandchildren.
That opens the door for a lot of door slamming, slow burns and snarky asides. Unfortunately, none of Keach’s sly remarks are half as good as the ones in “Sh*! My Dad Says,” another lame comedy.
Serafino’s slacker boyfriend checks in early on (he’s hoping to make his mark with an app) but doesn’t linger. Instead, the app concept hangs on and, sure enough, the older women are checking out who they might attract if they went on the “Toaster” app.
Keach, meanwhile, tells Warburton he learned how to put a little spark in his second marriage (the stepmom is black – a point producers explain before the first episode is over) by viewing porn. Son follows suit and, sure enough, the screen freezes making him the object of ridicule from everyone.
Warburton handles all of the pat situations well, but it’s unfortunate creator Suzanne Martin didn’t give him moments a little less obvious. By the third episode, he’s in Betty White’s arms, letting her reprise her “Mary Tyler Moore Show” guise.
“Hot in Cleveland’s” Jane Leeves is here, too, playing White’s daughter hoping to pull away from mom. (“Cleveland,” in case you didn’t know, was produced by the same folks behind this.) Sadly, “Crowded” doesn’t have the same snap as that show. It pages through the book of sitcom premises and drops a finger. Again, it’s not the right finger.
“Crowded” premieres at 8:30 p.m. March 20 on NBC.