Review: Kevin Can Wait 1×1 (US: CBS)

And so can the audience


In the US: Mondays, 8.30/7.30c, CBS

CBS sitcoms almost perfectly divide into two camps: the first are executive produced by Chuck Lorre (eg Mom, Two And a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory) and are surprisingly diverse in terms of ideas, if not their general hatred of all that is good and pure in the world. The second, by contrast, normally revolve around overweight blue collar men married to much more attractive, younger women and who have trouble adapting to modern life as they’d much rather be spending their time sitting around with their mates, knocking back beers. Such men are usually Kevin James (eg King of Queens).

Kevin Can Wait falls squarely into camp two, with Kevin James – for it is he – playing a just-retired cop married to Erinn Hayes (Childrens Hospital, The Winner, Worst Week, Guys With Kids) and having to deal with greater intimacy as he hangs around the home with his two younger school-age kids. Then his high-achieving eldest daughter (Taylor Spreitler) announces she’s dropping out of school to support her nerdy British boyfriend Ryan Cartwright (Alphas) while he develops his app, prompting all manner of soul-searching by James.

I was expecting the worst of this and to be fair, you can probably guess pretty much all the tragic attempts at comedy in the first half of the episode. But things marginally improve once Spreitler shows up with Cartwright in tow. It’s also worth noting that Hayes can do this kind of sitcom standing on her head, and that although James may be best known these days for being besies with Adam Sandler and starring in near-horror movies such as Here Comes The Boom, he’s also a decent enough actor and an appealing presence in this kind of multi-camera comedy. Despite co-creating a character who wants to spend all day playing around in go-karts and drinking beers with his buds, his creation is a warm-hearted guy, willing to let his daughter and her fiancé move back in with him, if it’ll stop her dropping out of school and potentially ruining her future. 

That said, despite the cast’s best efforts, there’s only a smattering of gags that ever manage to hit home (“That’s every stripper’s backstory!”) and viewing is frequently only bearable at times on fast foward. I doubt I could summon up the strength to view another episode, to be honest. But having watched this first episode, it does at least make me think twice before totally writing off anything James is in in future.