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Review: Aliens in America

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 1:27 pm

Ah, out with the old, in with the new. The television season is dead, long live the next television season. And to prepare for it, I’m going to review new shows as the pilots become available.

Aliens in America; CW, Monday, 8:30 PM

Ok, I’ll admit it, I was prepared to hate this show…after all, you can almost hear the one-line pitch meeting: “It’s Wonder Years with a Muslim!” But I have to admit the show gave me a couple of chuckles and a belly laugh, which is more than I can say for most “comedies” on the air now, so maybe I should be a little less harsh.

The replaced Patrick Breen, Dan Byrd, and Amy Pietz

The pilot opens with Justin Tolchuck (Dan Byrd, The Hills Have Eyes) telling us in Wonder Years-style narration how much life sucks for a nerd; his mother Franny (Amy Pietz, Caroline in the City, the despicable Rodney) dotes on him to the point of unhealthy obsession, his father (Patrick Breen, Kevin Hill but now replaced by Gilmore Girls’ Scott Patterson in a casting mistake, as Breen is perfect as the well-meaning but dysfunctional Gary) obsessed only with making an extra buck, his sister Claire (Lindsey Shaw; those without nine-year-olds can be forgiven for not knowing her years of work as Moze on the Nickelodeon comedy series Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide) returned from summer camp with…er…”girl-parts,” and the bullies in school make him a popular target.

Frannie decides to do something about it, and after talking to the guidance counselor agrees to take in an exchange student, or as Justin explains it to us, “I think any teenager’s lowest point comes when his mother decides she has to import a friend for him.” But imagine their surprise when that friend is a Pakistani named Raja…

Yep. Mom decides to dump the kid, Dad wants to keep him for the $500/month they receive from the exchange program, Justin doesn’t know what to think, and Claire doesn’t know the smitten Raja even exists.

Comedy abounds; Raja’s first day, Frannie’s plot to return him, etc., etc.

Yeah, it’s all pretty predictable (you’ve already written the plot in your head, haven’t you?), but the narration is smart and funny, the actors are all likable and talented when not being directed to chew the scenery, and even though the happy family dinner at the end may have those in Middle America cringing at the unsophisticated way they are portrayed, the program gave me a surprisingly large number of laughs…so I guess I have to almost grudgingly admit - I liked it.

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