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Case Number 26382: Small Claims Court

Buy The Neighbors: The Complete First Season at Amazon

The Neighbors: The Complete First Season

ABC Studios // 2012 // 506 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 9th, 2013

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson's neighbors are originally from Melmac.

The Charge

A down-to-Earth family comedy.

The Case

ABC's goofy half-hour was universally dumped on by critics, but it made it to 22 episodes and a second season pickup (where it currently dwells in the Friday scheduling abyss). There's obviously an audience out there somewhere for what these folks are cooking, and I'm fairly confident it's not me.

The Neighbors tells the timeless story of a family from New Jersey, headed by powerful matriarch Debbie Weaver (Jamie Gertz, The Lost Boys) and her properly emasculated husband Marty (Lenny Venito), who lands in a housing development populated entirely by extraterrestrials. The Weavers and their new neighbors, Larry Bird, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus attempt to bridge the species gap while learning lessons about family, loyalty and non-sequiturs.

This sort of sounds like it could be funny right? I recall the commercials and almost feeling prompted to check out the show thanks to some of the gags. Almost. Now, a year later, I am here to report that while there are a few laughs to be had, overall the show is pretty much a lifeless turd.

The biggest problem facing the series is that its gimmick has a hugely tough time supporting a full season order. The first show squeezed a fair amount of chortles out of me, especially with those off-the-wall crazy names the aliens have. Larry Bird? Dick Butkus? Jackie Joyner-Kersee? Crazy! But from episode two on, those gags lost their luster. As did most other alien-centric jokes. Because, when you get right down to it, this is a standard "fish-out-of-water" conceit, but instead of Mepos, these comic foils hail from another solar system and are sometimes aided in their quest for laughs by low-end CGI and blobs of green goo.

On the regular human side, this is essentially Gertz's road show. She gets top billing and is the most recognizable actor on the premises (I did recall Venito from Flight of the Conchords). As the exhausted mom and wife she travels well-worn comic topography, but she's no stranger to sitcoms and has the timing nailed. The rest of her family bat clean-up; Marty is pretty much a dope, but the two have a good rapport and the less said about the irritating offspring the better.

There's a general season-long arc about the aliens waiting for further instructions from their home world, which doesn't get paid off until the season finale (featuring a cameo appearance by someone you would expect to make a cameo in TV show about space aliens). Up to that point, you're dealing with simple, familiar one-offs, where the kids learn about bullying, the aliens struggle to understand the magic of Christmas, and Debbie and Marty warn of the oppressive nature of white elitism. So, you know, standard operating procedure for broadcast primetime programming.

In the end, the jokes just aren't plentiful enough and the runs to the "confused aliens saying weird and stupid stuff" well yield diminishing returns. I'd love to be a contrarian a-hole and say The Neighbors isn't as lame as everyone says, but I'd be lying: it is.

Three discs, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 surround, deleted scenes and a gag reel and there's your first season DVD set.

The Verdict

Guilty. Let's get the NASA vivisection team on the phone.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: ABC Studios
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English (SDH)
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 506 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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