Review: Ruby and The Rockits 1×1

The Cassidy family reunion

Ruby and The Rockits

In the US: Tuesdays, 8.30/7.30c, ABC Family

You kind of have to admire a showbiz family that not only has longevity but sticks together. The Cassidy brothers have been around since the early 70s, with David Cassidy starring in The Partridge Family; Shaun Cassidy starring in The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries; Patrick Cassidy starring in the TV version of Dirty Dancing as well as the movie Longtime Companion; and Ryan Cassidy starring in The Facts of Life.

Shaun Cassidy went on to become a successful TV writer, developing among other things the (unfortunately) not very good Invasion . Now he’s written a sitcom for ABC Family that stars not just one but two of his brothers and has the other working behind-the-scenes.

Unfortunately, just like Invasion and, in fact, most ABC Family comedies, it’s a bit derivative and not much cop, even if it is about two musical former pop stars – you’d think they’d be playing to their strengths there.

“Ruby and The Rockits” follows Patrick Gallagher, a former teen idol who has chosen to lead a quiet life with his wife Audie (herself an ex-80’s music video dancer) and two sons. But when his former Rockits band mate and brother, David, shows up unexpectedly with his new-found teenage daughter in town, the Gallagher family’s life becomes anything but normal. David, who refuses to give up his past glory days, comes to Patrick for help raising Ruby while he continues to perform. Patrick must now put the past with David behind them in order to help raise Ruby and keep order within the rest of the Gallagher clan.

“Ruby and The Rockits” was written by former teen idol Shaun Cassidy and Ed Yeager, with teleplay by Ed Yeager. Former teen idol David Cassidy (“The Partridge Family”), his brother Patrick Cassidy (“Smallville”), Katie A. Keane , Alexa Vega (“Spy Kids”), and Austin Butler (“Zoey 101”) star in the series.

Is it any good?
Although it’s not blanket awful, since there’s the occasional laugh to be had and there’s some decent enough singing going on, it’s all a bit painful. It’s the kind of show you thought died with My Two Dads and Perfect Strangers back in the 80s: although there’s not an explicit “lesson we’ve learned this episode” moment at the end, there might as well be. This could be a deliberate move to cash in on nostalgia or to recycle it all for a whole new generation who’ve not been exposed to it before so haven’t built up an immunity.

In fact, it seems aimed at both the High School Musical market and 30-40somethings at the same time. For the youngsters, there’s Alexa Vega (best known from Spy Kids) who’s the ostensible lead of the show. She’s actually very good, if a little precocious and obviously 21 rather than a teenager now. Unfortunately, she’s saddled with a character who has to make everything – including depressive, gloomy cousins – perk up with her happiness, teen speak from 2001, and singing.

But for the greyer members of the audience, there are the actual stars of the show, the two Cassidy brothers, and much of the plot revolves around them. Slightly baffling, but then again, their brother’s writing it so maybe not. They aren’t as good as Vega and are hamming it up 80s-style for all they’re worth, playing more or less the same two characters any sitcom about two brothers always has: the staid, dull one and the womanising, immature one.

Then there’s the rest of the family. I’m not sure where they’re going with the mother yet, who might show promise, given she used to be a dancer in the group’s music vids, but the others are variable. The elder brother is okay, although he has a crush on his new cousin so is also a tad creepy, but we are talking about a show in which long-lost daughters drop in to live with their former rock star fathers unexpectedly after messaging them on Facebook: reality is not at home at the moment.

I sincerely doubt I’ll be sticking with it for any more episodes. Although it’s nice to see the Cassidy family in action again, unless you’re dyed-in-the-wool fans of theirs or love singing faux-teenagers, there’s precious little else to make it a show worthy spending time with.

Here, so you can sample it for yourself, is the entire first episode. I’d say enjoy, but…