Third-episode verdict: Surviving Jack (Fox)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 2

In the US: Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c, Fox

Time for a third-episode verdict on Surviving Jack, a show that attempts to do for 1991 what The Wonder Years did for the 1960s without as good a soundtrack but with more clips of American Gladiators.

On the whole, it’s been a decent enough three episodes, each filled with at least the requisite Kermodian five laughs to ensure it’s worth watching. True, the only good character is Jack himself – Christopher Meloni from L&O:SU – everyone else simply existing to create situations where he is doctor-ish/army-ish when he should be dad-ish. But that doesn’t mean those other characters are entirely worthless and while they are pretty much the straight men and women of the piece, their predicaments are handled as well as The Wonder Years handled Kevin’s.

Given that the show is based on I Suck At Girls, don’t be surprised that most of those predicaments involve teenage son Connor Buckley sucking at dealing with girls, but rather than this being the traditional ‘ugly nerd with zero social skills aiming too high’ set-up expected of sitcoms, this is more ‘cute boy makes the same relationship mistakes everyone else does when they’re young’ kind of thing. Episode one saw him have his first kiss, two revealed he was actually quite good at sports and three had him actually asking someone out and not getting the reaction you’d have expected, all of which is surprisingly refreshing and probably shows you how tired other shows are rather than necessarily how fresh this one is.

Meloni is great as Jack; the show has some good one-liners; the female characters, even Rachael Harris’s, could do with some extensive development work but are not merely plucked from a box of stereotypes; and there’s some actual sensitivity to all the male characters for a change. Probably the best new network comedy of the 2013-14 season, since it’s more consistent than Enlisted.

Barrometer rating: 2
Rob’s prediction: Will last a season and might even get picked up for a second one


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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