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Everything's relative ran from April 6th until the 27th 1999 on NBC.
Everything was "relatives" in this sitcom about a mild-manner comedy writer beset by his overbearing family. Leo ( Kevin Rahm), seemed to be the only calm, well-adjusted member of the Gorelick family, which of course meant that the others were forever imposing on him. There was Jake (Jeffrey Tambor), his tall bossy Dad, who was long divorced from Leo's mother and fancied himself quite a ladies man ( as well as the world's most loving father); Mickey ( Jill Clayburgh), his mom was constantly showing up in his kitchen saying, " I'm going to go" but never doing so. A clinical therapist who "wrote the book on obsession" she was nevertheless obsessed both with her beloved sons and with showing up Jake. Marty ( Eric Schaeffer), was Leo's excitable, neurotic, self-centered brother, and Trina ( Maureen Cassidy), his bemused writing partner.
A Review from variety
April 6, 1999 12:00AM PT
By Ray Richmond
Raw and frantic though it may be, “Everything’s Relative” is funnier than any comedy NBC has managed to launch this season (with the possible exception of “Wind on Water,” which wasn’t supposed to be a comedy). In a season littered with punchless atrocities like “Encore! Encore!” and “Conrad Bloom,” it at least tries to push the sitcom envelope with some clever, original devices. And, hey, say this for the show: unlike many other primetime sitcoms the Peacock has developed over the past few years, this ain’t about a single woman in New York!
It also helps that the midseason entry boasts real talent in leads Jeffrey Tambor, fresh from a triumphant run as the legendary Hank Kingsley on HBO’s “Larry Sanders Show,” and Jill Clayburgh, who appears unfairly to have been put out to pasture due Aging Actress Syndrome. Clayburgh, who is just starting to reappear after her run as a 1970s box office star, is still a vibrant performer with plenty of mileage left. It’s great to have her back.
Whether “Everything’s Relative” is the vehicle that powers Clayburgh back into the steady flow of Hollywood traffic remains to be seen. And indeed, the opening seg, like so many pilots, flails around to find its footing before steadying itself in a much more inspired second show next week. It likewise would be easy to predict that the sitcom is a mite too stereotypically Jewish in its sensibility to click with the masses, but all bets are clearly off on that score after “Seinfeld.”
In this one, we have your basic dysfunctional family plagued by overbearing parents and a pair of grown sons who bear all of the typical scars suffered by Adult Children of Neurotics (ACN for short). At the center of this foolishness we find Leo Gorelick (Kevin Rahm), a hypersensitive comedy writer who never seems to have any time to actually write. His type-A brother Marty (Eric Schaeffer) is a twice-divorced doctor who is too busy whining to to treat any patients.
Then again, Leo and Marty never had a chance as the product of not just a broken home but a home shattered into tiny rubble. Their dad, Jake (Tambor), is a narcissistic, overbearing putz (see Hank Kingsley), too busy looking in the mirror to notice the world. Jake has been divorced for better than 20 years from Mickey (Clayburgh), who spends her days devising ways to invade Leo’s space and is deluded just enough to carry a flickering torch for her ex.
The problem with this whole setup from a comedic standpoint is that it’s difficult to separate the twits from the jerks, leaving pretty much no one to root for. This becomes obvious in “Everything’s” premiere, when Leo breaks up with his prissy girlfriend, and mom takes that as her cue to move into an apartment across the street from her son. He would prefer that she set down roots somewhere a tad further away in, say, Siberia.
Marty, meanwhile, is content to reside at the center of his own peculiar universe as he prepares to marry for a third time, while Jake does a lot of pointless emoting. On the whole, opening seg from exec producer-scribe Mitchell Hurwitz is all over the map, failing to build its case for familial angst with much conviction or to incorporate co-star Maureen Cassidy (playing Leo’s writing partner Trina) very effectively.
Yet even in the so-so pilot helmer John Fortenberry showcase its potential with some quirky, stylish trappings. And this promise builds in a second episode that is far crisper, more focused and far more irreverent than the first. Tambor and Clayburgh suddenly start to click, and both Rahm and Schaeffer display a canny chemistry.
The follow-up episode features some legitimately adroit touches, such as the seamless insertion of mock home-movie footage and one amusing — if ultimately slightly overused — gambit in which the word “LIE” is flashed in huge block letters to illustrate one character’s dishonesty. There are likewise a couple of shrewd running gags launched here, leaving one with the feeling that this show might just deserve to live for a while after all.
Of course, “Everything’s” is so broadly cynical that the invariable huggy-kissy family lessons imparted at the end ring jarringly false.
Something will need to be done to remedy that. But at least this show expends some real energy trying to be unique. That alone elevates it a rung above most of its primetime competish. Tech credits, particularly in flashback sequences, are tops.
NBC; Tues. April 6, 9:30 p.m.
Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Witt-Thomas Prods. in association with NBC Studios and Warner Bros. TV. Executive producers, Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas, Nina Wass, Mitchell Hurwitz; producer, Sue Palladino; director, John Fortenberry; writer, Hurwitz
Crew: Camera, Richard Brown; production designer, Michael Hynes; editor, Peter Chakos; music, David Schwartz; sound, Kerry Boggio; casting, Allison Jones. 30 MINUTES.
With: Jake Gorelick - Jeffrey Tambor Mickey Gorelick - Jill Clayburgh Leo Gorelick - Kevin Rahm Marty Gorelick - Eric Schaeffer Trina - Maureen Cassidy
A Review From The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEW; All in the (Wacky) Family, Where Normal Truly Is Not
By ANITA GATES
Published: April 6, 1999
The wacky dad is Jeffrey Tambor, bald, not young, not slim, convinced that every good-looking woman in Los Angeles is flirting with him. The wacky mom is Jill Clayburgh, attractive, slim, not young, completely obsessive.
''Everything's Relative'' is an odd little comedy, based on the tiredest sitcom premise of them all: one nice, normal guy surrounded by lovable lunatics. But to its credit, this new series gives the idea some new twists.
Mr. Tambor brings to his new role the fascinating, oblivious sleaziness of his ''Larry Sanders Show'' character: Hank, the resentful fourth-rate talk show sidekick. Ms. Clayburgh is brightly funny and seems much more at home than she did as the self-sacrificing Irish-American housewife in ''Trinity,'' one of NBC's early cancellations last fall. Kevin Rahm, a stand-up comic, is likable as their normal son, Leo, the comedy writer. And Eric Schaeffer is brilliant as the self-absorbed son, Marty the doctor. Mr. Schaeffer, who began his career as co-writer and co-director of ''My Life's in Turnaround,'' is the kind of guy who would cast and direct himself in his first nude scene, and he did, in ''Fall'' (1997), a film about the love between a taxi driver and a supermodel. He was born to play Marty.
''Everything's Relative'' is set in a contemporary, somewhat amoral Southern California. Mom and Dad are long divorced. Dad's idea of a father-son outing is having Leo shoplift for him. Marty is getting married for the third time, and Mom accidentally drugs his fiancee. The first two episodes, which revolve around engagement parties, house hunting and Leo's vow to ''divorce'' his family, look promising, with some inventive titles (''Later that same lie'') and what must be one of television's first five-way split-screen telephone conversations.
The question is whether viewers will really want to spend time with these highly flawed characters every week. But a lot of people said the same thing about Jerry, Kramer, George and Elaine.
NBC, tonight at 9:30
(Channel 4 in New York)
Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas, Nina Wass and Mitchell Hurwitz, executive producers; Sue Palladino, producer; John Fortenberry, director; Denise Porter, associate producer. Produced by Witt-Thomas Productions in association with NBC Studios and Warner Brothers Television.
WITH: Jeffrey Tambor (Jake Gorelick), Jill Clayburgh (Mickey Gorelick), Kevin Rahm (Leo Gorelick), Eric Schaeffer (Marty Gorelick) and Maureen Cassidy (Trina).
A Review from the Washington Post
Little New, `Relative'-ly, On NBC `Everything's Relative': A Family Nuisance
By Tom Shales April 6, 1999
"Everything's Relative" is another "new" comedy whose freshness date seems to have come and gone. Long gone. It's a green stinky thing on the bottom shelf of the great refrigerator of television.
The NBC sitcom, premiering tonight at 9:30 on Channel 4, has its funny moments and two expert comedy actors -- Jeffrey Tambor and Jill Clayburgh -- but basically, the thought of revisiting its cast of characters for months or even weeks to come is repugnant in the extreme.
While most sitcoms celebrate family and the idea of familyhood and extended familyhood, this one points out that members of one's own family can be terrible pains and nuisances. Actually, the show doesn't just point that out so much as dwell on it obsessively until reasonable people -- even those who hate every member of their own families -- will want to scream in drop-jawed horror.
A saving grace is Tambor, for six years the lovably transparent Hank Kingsley on HBO's award-winning, dearly missed "Larry Sanders Show." Tambor played Ed McMahon to Garry Shandling's Johnny Carson on that sitcom about a talk show, though to call it a sitcom seems demeaning; everything isn't relative after all. "Sanders" was a Rolls, whereas "Relative" is just another clunker off the assembly line.
Tambor has fewer opportunities to be funny in the new show even though he gets more screen time. He wastes none of it as Jake, the pushy papa of two grown sons. Divorced from their mother, Mickey (Clayburgh), Jake appears trapped in a terminal midlife crisis, convinced that every woman in the world is flirting with him and that he's the prize catch of all time.
It's quickly apparent, however, that his ex-wife is not entirely rid of him and doesn't entirely want to be. She wants to stay close enough to him to make sure he's having a perfectly miserable life without her.
A clinical therapist blind to her own psychological problems, Mickey comes across as the proverbial smothering mother, managing to drop by her son Leo's house on the slimmest pretext, then poking around his drawers, closets and cabinets like a suspicious narc on a dope hunt. Leo, played by Kevin Rahm, is something of a dope, actually, too simperingly spineless to discipline his parents, which is what you have to do when they and you reach certain ages.
The fourth family member is Leo's brother, Marty (Eric Schaeffer), a moronic surgeon who is always falling asleep and is about to attempt his third marriage. NBC publicity describes him as "self-absorbed," but every member of this family is self-absorbed -- and contemptibly shallow besides.
We're supposed to like and sympathize with Leo, but Rahm isn't sympathetic at all. As an actor, he seems to be doing an imitation of David Spade, star of NBC's "Just Shoot Me" (which precedes "Relative" at 9 on Tuesday nights and is looking better all the time -- boasting perhaps the best sitcom cast on TV). Rahm tries to emit that same Spade cool and even looks a little like Spade. But the best he achieves is blah, humbug.
NBC executives love nothing more than a "new" sitcom slavishly patterned on an old one. "Relative" has very short scenes, the way "Seinfeld" did, and in structure also resembles "Frasier," fading to black so that you think a commercial is coming, except another scene fades in. Unfortunately, the resemblances are strictly superficial and so is the show.
A Review From CNN
TV's 'Everything's Relative' finds humor in family
April 8, 1999
Web posted at: 12:58 p.m. EDT (1658 GMT)
HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- NBC has packed its new Tuesday night comedy "Everything's Relative" with proven talent. Emmy nominee Jeffrey Tambor headlines the show, playing the eccentric patriarch of a mildly dysfunctional family.
Tambor comes to NBC after six years on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show," on which he played Hank, an arrogant but insecure late-night show sidekick.
In "Everything's Relative," Tambor takes the role of Jake, a long-divorced father who considers himself something of a ladies' man. Two-time Oscar nominee Jill Clayburgh play's Jake's ex- wife. Eric Schaeffer and Kevin Rahm play their grown sons.
The show focuses on Rahm's character, young comedy writer Leo Gorelick, and his problems with this all-too-close family. Rahm describes the role as a break in his career. It's his first series and follows a string of film roles and TV guest spots.
"I feel like I was a rookie drafted to the Yankees last year. I got to win the World Series on the first try," he says.
Jill Clayburgh plays Mickey, the mom who's always caught in the middle of things. Apparently, Clayburgh is always giggling on the set.
"You know how when you were, like in high school, and you get the giggles?" she says. "That's what this show does to me."
As far as Tambor's concerned, the more giggles the show gets, the better. "You can't cure cancer in 23 minutes," he says, "but if you can give some sort of breadth and vision that helps you laugh at yourself, why then you've done what you should have done."
"Everything's Relative" airs Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Correspondent Lauren Hunter contributed to this report.
A Review: Everything's Relative
Written By Rick Ellis, April 12th, 1999
Most viewers don't realize it, but the majority of people writing for television sitcoms are young. Very young, in fact. In the sitcom game, twenty-somethings rule and if you're thirty--and not running a show--you might as well be collecting Social Security.
Which may explain a show like NBC's new sitcom Everything's Relative.
The show is the latest in a series of sitcoms that feature general nice guys being tormented by their self-obsessed and/or possessive parents. The lead actors always try to do the right thing, but their lives are always being disrupted by the "family."
But like the earlier NBC series Conrad Bloom, this doesn't end up being enough of a concept to build a show around. While twenty-something's (particularly successful tv writers) may feel hemmed in by family obligations, a genial whiner isn't the kind of character that motivates rabid viewership.
Most viewers will probably sample the show to check out Jeffrey Tambor, who has managed to now experience both ends of the creative spectrum by moving from the magnificently funny The Larry Sanders Show to this disappointment. Tambor's Jake is supposed to be slightly sexually over-eager divorced Dad, but unfortunately the writing only provides him with the ability to be stupidly arrogant and oblivious to everyone around him. While Tambor's Larry Sanders character was flawed but ultimately likeable, in this show he's just flawed to the point of being annoying.
The series revolves around newcomer Kevin Rahm, who plays Leo, an L.A. comedy writer who can't get a decent date or distance himself from his family. While I'm sure that Rahm has the potential to be interesting, he manages to blow through every scene in this series like a gentle summer breeze. Despite being a writer, he doesn't seem to be particularly funny, or even captivating. And as a guy who's spent a lot of time around comedy writers, I find it hard to believe that he can't figure out some way to get some privacy from his relatives.
His family is rounded out by Jill Clayburgh, who plays his mother Mickey, and his self-absorbed brother (played by Eric Schaffer). Clayburgh should fire her agent after being saddled with a character that makes absolutely no logical sense. She's supposedly a psychologist, but seems entirely divorced from her feelings, and the world around her. She deserves better, but I don't think she'll get it in this show.
The pilot's flimsy plot follows Leo as he attempts to find a way to tell his family to give him some space. His latest girlfriend has left him, and he blames the relatives. So he dawdles, walks around some department store with his father (several times), spends some time convincing his Mom not to move closer to him and finally decides to unburden himself in front of his family at his brother's pre-wedding party. In the end, he makes nice, for no logical reason other than the episode is over and it's time to go.
In the end, we have a show with no center, little substance and damn few funny lines. In fact, the pilot only had one laugher, when Leo made the observation to his mother that, "Believe me, the fact that you wrote the book on obsession hasn't escaped me."
And the lack of character development won't escape the audience.
For more on Everything's Relative go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everything%27s_Relative_(1999_TV_series)
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