Warner Bros. // 2007 // 176 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 14th, 2008
No one ever said fatherhood was easy, but it sure is funny.
Bill Engvall, one quarter of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, lands his own sitcom on TBS. Too bad he was the least funny quarter.
Meet Bill (Engvall), a family counselor who -- get this! -- sometimes has trouble coping with his own family. Irony of ironies! Back on the homestead, Bill's wife (Nancy Travis) constantly puts him in place, though apparently oblivious to how big a MILF she is and how threatening that can be to an unfunny, average-looking middle-aged man.
He's also got three kids and a couple of friends who, if they were true friends, would have advised him to never do a crappy sitcom.
Any network that proclaims it's "Very Funny" should be suspect. TBS's boast of cornering the market on laughter is lame and contrived and a series like The Bill Engvall Show -- itself lame and contrived -- does little to bolster the cable network's street cred.
Here's the short of it: this show is not funny. Maybe one out of 100 lines elicited a small grin. Maybe. The writing is generic and flat and the plots syrupy and uninspired. For example, Bill has to cope with the fact that the family dog has a tumor and it's going to cost a lot to remove it. Or his son just received starting quarterback duties and Bill doesn't know how to curtail his excitement. Or Bill is squirrelly about his hot daughter dating older guys. Or Bill wants a motorcycle for his birthday but gets a moped. And so on and so forth.
Fleshing out these limp plots is a forgettable set of characters. Bill Engvall is actually a likable dude but because his character's lines are so corny and unfunny, you'll grow to resent him. Susan Pearson (Nancy Travis) is the typical, exasperated wife, way more well-adjusted than her goofy husband, and prone to smack him down with a verbal barbs. The kids -- daughter is pretty and sarcastic, oldest son is ditzy and sarcastic, youngest son is smart and sarcastic. Actually, these offspring aren't unlike the kids from Step by Step, another cheesy, contrived family sitcom that, even in its mediocrity, is a laugh-until-you-barf-up-a-spleen-fest compared to The Bill Engvall Show. In recurring, supporting roles are Steve Hytner (Bania from Seinfeld -- quick, did the mention of Seinfeld remind you of a particularly funny moment from that series? Guess what, that fleeting memory is a lot funnier than anything you'll see on these DVDs) and Tim Meadows. As easy as it is to indict Meadows for appearing in such tripe, you have to earn a paycheck somehow and whatever mild laughter is to be had here, Meadows usually is responsible.
You know, I would cut this series more slack if it was a straight-up family-friendly show, but there are a handful of adult themes that prevent it from landing the Full House Caveat, i.e. "If a TV series is cheesy and unfunny yet is suitable for all ages and is therefore deliberately cheesy and unfunny, it shall be given immunity from overly harsh criticism." In the first season of The Bill Engvall Show, two stories revolved around Susan revealing that she banged Chris Isaac and Bill giving his oldest son a condom-fitting demonstration using vegetables. So, the Caveat is revoked and The Bill Engvall Show still stands as awful.
If you're so inclined to continue the pain, Disc Two sports a handful of extra features: a series overview, interviews with Bill Engvall, Tim Meadows and Steve Hytner, a set tour and a fan-letter answering feature with Bill Engvall, notable more for the fact that there are actually fans of the show.
If fatherhood is as derivative and boring as this, I'm scheduling an appointment for a vasectomy tomorrow.
Guilty. Sentence: Spend 10 more months watching Home Improvement and work on your material.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 176 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Series Overview
* Cast Interviews
* Set Tour
* Official Site