Mini-review: The Millers 1×1 (CBS/Comedy Central)

The Millers on CBS, with Will Arnett

In the US: Thursdays, 8.30/7.30c, CBS
In the UK: Mondays, 9.30pm, Comedy Central. Starts October 14

This season in the US appears to be one for great casts and great creative talents turning in comedies that are more than a little short on actual laughs. We’ve already suffered through Dads and Mom, and now we have CBS’s The Millers, starring Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, Jayma Mays and Margot Martindale, and written by My Name is Earl‘s Greg Garcia. Arnett and Mays are brother and sister, Bridges and Martindale their parents. Arnett gets a divorce and when his father finds out, he’s inspired to do the same. Cue hilarity as old people try to cope with the single life, fulfil supressed ambitions, and mess around in their kids’ lives and ‘over share’.

Now there is at least the germ of a comedic idea in there and although it’s CBS, the home of mean-spirited comedy, Greg Garcia is a far more amiable writer. Unfortunately, that means Arnett, who is always fabulous as pampered, spoiled and slightly evil characters, is here playing second-fiddle to Bridges and Martindale, their comedic foil who has to bounce off them, rather than vice versa. Despite being a TV reporter, he’s shown to quite nice: a generous brother who helps support Mays and her husband’s struggling business.

Meanwhile, Bridges and Martindale dominate the action, shouting at one another. Bridges, however, is a buffoon verging on the senile, a source of fart gags and a man incapable of using a microwave without his soon-to-be-ex-wife’s help. Martindale, by contrast, is a controlling nightmare, picking away at her entire family, oblivious to her faults. Mays just gets to be the glue that joins everything together, with barely a joke headed her way the entire episode.

And if you find befuddled, farting old men and old women critcising everyone they come across, while Arnett mugs for all he’s worth, you might well like The Millers. But unfortunately, that’s really the extent of the comedy in the show, so if your tastes are a little more discerning, look elsewhere for laughs because you won’t find them here.