Preview: Crowded 1×1 (US: NBC)

Crowded

In the US: Mid-season replacement set to air 2016

It’s getting to the point where there’s a whole range of family comedies that could air anywhere and you wouldn’t be surprised. Crowded is one such programme – a multi-cam sitcom I could have sworn was set to air on CBS, but is actually going to be on NBC, but honestly could have gone on Fox, TBS or even TV Land without eliciting so much as a blink from me.

It stars former Tick and long-time inmate of Rules of Engagement Patrick Warburton and True Blood’s Carrie Preston as a happily married couple who are at first teary-eyed but are then overjoyed to watch first one then both of their daughters (Mia Serafino and Miranda Cosgrove) grow up then move out the family house to go to college, leaving the couple alone to drink, smoke pot, swear, walk around naked and have sex wherever they want in peace. Largely not on camera, of course.

However, in common with about a quarter of the US population, it’s not long before their children move back in when their relationships or jobs fall apart. And Warburton’s parents (Stacy Keach, Carlease Burke), who were planning to move to Florida, are now going to stay, too. And by the end of the episode, there’s another person moving in, too. Gosh, how Crowded.

The show comes across as Modern Family 10 years on, with Serafino the brain-dead fashion major who only cares about being popular, Cosgrove the epic nerd without any social skills who only cares about science and Keach the old school, emotions are for sissies, Ed O’Neill of the piece. However, it lacks that show’s subtlety, sensitivity and love for its characters, as well as any particularly funny jokes.

What it does have though is both Patrick Warburton, whose comic timing and delivery are masterly, and Stacy Keach who would make O’Neill’s army vet go running into the arms of the Viet Cong if he ever saw him coming. It also has a real sense of ‘been there, done that’ with Warburton and Preston’s relationship: while the show’s idea of married freedom is about as PG-13 as it’s possible to get, right down to the bleeped swearwords, there are moments of real pathos in the pilot episode, such as when the two are crying in each other’s arms as they say goodbye to their daughters on the steps of their colleges.

As sitcoms go, this is as conventional and generic as they come. But at least Warburton and Keach know how to make the audience laugh, even if the writers don’t especially.

If I could show you a trailer, I would, so you’ll have to take my word for it – for now, at least.