Happy Family aired from September 2003 until April 2004 on NBC.
Peter ( John Larroquette) was a Philadelphia dentist with a family that was worse than a root canal. Annie ( Christine Baranski) was his impulsive , sometimes hysterical wife ; son Todd ( Jeff B. Davis), also a dentist and the apple of his eye, was about to get married while having an affair with another woman; Sara ( Melanie Paxson), a bank vice president, was wildly successful in business but had absolutely no social life; and youngest Tim( Tyler Francavilla), 20, who had recently flunked out of junior college, was a doofus who failed at practically everything he tried. Peter and Annie bustled around their big suburban home trying to fix up their kids' lives, but without much success, for example, throwing goofy Tim out of the house only to have him wind up in the arms of much older neighbor Maggie ( Susan Gibney), while Todd dumped his fiance Jeanie and took up with Susan and later Alex ( Jaime Pressly). Neurotic Sara's most lasting relationship seemed to be with her parakeet, Eric, and he was accidentally squashed in a later episode.
A Review from The Michigan Daily
"Happy Family," chronicling a set of empty-nest parents dealing with their grown kids' problems, has likable characters but is hurt by some completely ridiculous storylines. John Larroquette ("Night Court") and Christine Baranski ("Cybill) are the old married couple dealing with a successful but over-emotional daughter (Melanie Paxson), an all-American son (Jeff Davis) who's engaged but having an affair and a young foolish collegiate (Tyler Francavilla) who has moved in with the older next-door neighbor (Susan Gibney). It sounds like a bad soap opera, but it's written as a bad sitcom instead.
The laughs may be frequent at first, but as the first three episodes prove, the stories get a little too far fetched for the average viewer to appreciate. While Larroquette is a great father figure, and the show is well cast, it may not have the necessary quality writing to be considered among the feature programs on the NBC lineup.
A Review from The Post Gazette
This sitcom's title is intended to be ironic, but "Amusing Family" is more apt. It doesn't provoke a laugh-out-loud reaction -- how could it when NBC ruined every funny twist by giving them away in summer promos? -- but it will make you smile and admire the phenomenal talents of John Larroquette and Christine Baranski.
Larroquette and Baranski play Peter and Annie Brennan, parents of three grown children who won't leave the nest. Oldest son Todd (Jeff Davis) is about to disappoint his father, lovelorn Sara (Melanie Paxson) just wants someone to talk to besides her pet bird, and dim-bulb Tim (Tyler Francavilla) flunks out of junior college and then shacks up with a neighbor.
"I'm beginning to think we didn't do a very good job," Annie declares at the end of tonight's premiere. It's not the dialogue that sells that line, but Baranski's delivery. That's the case throughout the two episodes of "Happy Family" made available for review. The leads are better than their material, and the premise begins to feel uncomfortably thin by the second episode.
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