In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC
Well, ITV has already shown us what you get when you take a traditional British sitcom format and fill it with much loved gay actors playing (horribly) stereotypical gay characters: you get the terrible Vicious. Now NBC shows us when happens when you take a traditional US sitcom format and fill with a much love gay actor playing a (slightly) stereotypical gay character: you get something a lot better.
Sean Saves The World is a multi-camera comedy, filmed in front of a studio audience and directed by James Burrows of Cheers fame, who’s been directing sitcoms since the 1980s. It sees Sean Hayes from Will and Grace playing a single dad trying to bring up his teenage daughter with the help and hindrance of his mother (Linda Lavin). At the same time, he also has to deal with his employees at work (including Vik Sahay from Chuck) as well as his company’s new owner (Thomas Lennon from Reno 911).
So far, so absolutely conventional. A lot of the dialogue is very conventional and there’s heart-warming family bonding at the end. Beyond the fact it has a gay central character, this could have been shot in practically any decade since the 1960s.
The show has two big points things going for it though. The first is Hayes, who manages to lift even the most ordinary dialogue into something much better. The result is quite a few laughs, which in this year’s season of supposed comedies, is a standout trait.
The second is Thomas Lennon. Not only does he have the same comedic talent as Hayes, his evil boss character is something different: he constantly imagines himself to be in a battle of wits with Hayes, trying to score points and lay traps at every point, even claiming prizes when he wins. Pretty much every scene with him in it is better than any other scene without him.
And, just to repeat, it’s actually quite funny. Okay, the female characters aren’t especially, with teenage daughter (Samantha Isler) really there as a problem to be solved and Sean’s mother no different from any other hectoring, not especially maternal sitcom mom, ready to toss out zingers at her progeny’s expense. There’s also a co-worker (Megan Hilty, who replaced Lindsay Sloane directed after the show went to series) who’s a colossal over-actor, too.
But, again, this does need repeating again, it’s actually quite funny. Will marvels never cease?