Sean Saves the World: Thursdays at 9 Eastern On NBC
In prior reviews, I’ve looked that the networks’ focus for the returning hero, and mentioned that no network was more all-in on this than NBC. For NBC, this is a trend that stretches back to last year when it was clear that they were originally grooming the Matthew Perry vehicle Go On for big things. It’s with this reason that when NBC put out it’s schedule for this fall that I was clamoring to find out what was going to get the 9 p.m crown jewel slot. Was it going to be a long-standing show like the critically acclaimed Parks and Recreation? Was it going to be The Michael J. Fox Show, which got a full season vote of confidence from NBC? Needless to say, I was somewhat surprised when I found out it would be devoted to the return of Will and Grace’s Sean Hayes in Sean Saves the World.
Sean Saves the World follows the titular character, a divorced dad who is thrust back into full-time parenting when his high school aged daughter Ellie (Samantha Isler) moves in. However, it’s not just his home life that gets thrown into upheaval. Sean also has to deal with a new boss (the always funny Thomas Lennon) whose tighter regime requires that his team at work put in more hours. The end result, like I’ve written oh so many times in the past two weeks, is our protagonist being forced to juggle both duties at home with work around the office.
The first thing that I noticed, above all else, is the omnipresent laugh track. While I’m not particularly biased to the single camera set-up, it feels like the laugh track disrupts the fairly rapid fire dialogue, often leading to an overblown reaction, which doesn’t jibe well with the subtle, sarcastic back and forth that dominates the dialogue (and that the cast clearly excels in).
The writing suffers at points, often due to the cardboard nature of some of the characters. In particular, Sean’s mother Lorna seems like a less alcohol drenched Lucille Bluth, while both of his co-workers felt pretty one dimensional. Similarly, the plot felt way too direct in forcing Sean to literally juggle home and work. I can understand establishing a premise strongly in a pilot, but this time around it felt too single-minded, often shoehorning Ellie and Lorna into what felt predominantly like a workplace sitcom plot.
Still there are many positives to be found in the show for it to show no promise. First and foremost, the cast as a whole is spectacular. Thomas Lennon in particular shines as evil boss Max, effortlessly acting as a thorn in people’s side. Additionally, while everything felt simplistic and forced, enough of the jokes landed, which for a sitcom really is priority number one (and as mentioned above, would have landed much better without a soundtrack).
The Final Verdict: Sean Saves the World feels very much like a work in progress, pairing a fairly interesting workplace sitcom (the show’s best comedic pairing is very clearly Hayes and Lennon) with a very pedestrian family comedy. Luckily, the tone and the humor is there and there have been successful comedies with worse pilots (and for that matter first seasons). Furthermore, the track record of the staff both behind and in front of the camera seems way too good for this show to truly tank. I’d wait and see on this one, possibly checking out an episode on a re-run laden Thursday night.