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Complete Savages aired from September 2004 until June 2005 on ABC.
Nick ( Keith Carradine) was a macho firefighter whose crazy wife had walked out ten years earlier, leaving him to raise their five rambunctious boys alone in this slapstick sitcom. Sam ( Andrew Eiden) was the shy, responsible, smart one, constantly harassed by his siblings; Jack ( Shaun Sipos) the handsome, guitar-playing ringleader; Chris ( Eric von Detten) the dumb jock; Kyle ( Evan Ellingson)the energetic, but shallow 14 year old; and T.J.( Jason Dolly) the much put-upon youngest-whose main leverage was that as a born entrepreneur ( often on e-Bay), he had money and the others didn't.They all lived in a happy, noisy pigsty of a home, letting their giant dog eat at the table with them, slapping each other on the head, sticking the little kid's face in their armpits, and otherwise acting like " complete savages." Nick, who was something of an overgrown kid himself, routinely outsmarted their schemes and kept order, telling them, " Shape up or I'll bring Mom back"( "Noooo!!"). Jimmy ( Vincent Ventresca) was Nick's irresponsible younger brother, a fellow firefighter at suburban firehouse Engine 17, and Angela ( Autumn Reeser) was Sam's girlfriend.
Though cleverly written and smartly executed ( by producer-director Mel Gibson), Complete Savages never caught on and was canceled before the end of its first season.
A Review from variety
September 19, 2004 6:00AM PT
By Brian Lowry
Hard to believe a sitcom that could be titled “My Five Sons” plays like a blast of fresh air, but that’s what smart execution will do for you. Cleansing his palate after “The Passion of the Christ” (whose flogging scene ran longer than this pilot), producer Mel Gibson has directed an opening half-hour that hums along with sharp writing, buoyant energy and a generally amusing tone. An edgier fit for what ABC’s “TGIF” lineup once embodied, “Complete Savages” doesn’t figure to be a huge hit given its timeslot, but should appeal to whomever ABC can lure to the party.
About as low-concept and spartan as comedy gets, the series stars Keith Carradine as Nick, the firefighter single dad to five rambunctious boys. Having chased away nearly two dozen housekeepers since mom bolted a decade earlier, Nick decides to force his brood to learn homemaking skills by fending for themselves.
What follows is a battle of wills, with the boys resisting their chores, trying to compel dad to cave in and solicit help — preferably hot young French help, per the older boys’ request.
In a sense, the show plays like an antidote to the sobriety of the WB’s “Jack & Bobby,” since things here are less about nurturing brothers toward future greatness than creatively abusing them, which includes thrusting a younger boy’s face into an older one’s armpit. Somehow, the abuse promises to register more realistically for many teens, along with adults who can remember their formative years.
Bringing a bit of heart to the mayhem is shy Sam (the promising Andrew Eiden), who has a crush on a neighbor girl but can’t muster the gumption to ask her to a school dance. Seeking to break the no-cleaning impasse, Nick invites her over, resulting in a laugh-out-loud sequence as Sam sits on the couch while his family coaches him through the date by whacking him in the head with a hockey stick.
Series creators Julie Thacker-Scully and Mike Scully have “The Simpsons” on their resume, and unlike a lot of people who have passed through those hallowed halls, some lessons about not too tart, not too sweet family comedy clearly stuck. For starters, any show where the dog eats dinner at the table with everyone else can’t be all bad.
Carradine brings just the right bemused detachment to the role, economically creating a gruff, caring guy who in many ways is just an overgrown kid himself.
The irony of ironies, of course, is that as NBC has struggled to find worthy comedies in recent years, the network finally found one courtesy of ABC parent Disney in the form of “Scrubs,” a laudable show even if it’s not a stand-alone hit. Now the tables are reversed, with ABC garnering what could represent some much-needed aid from NBC Universal.
It’s always nice to see the rambunctious children playing nice together, especially when they’re part of vast global media conglomerates.
ABC, Fri. Sept. 24, 8:30 p.m.
Production: Filmed in L.A. by Nothing Can Go Wrong Now Prods. and Icon Prods. in association with NBC Universal Television Studio. Executive producers, Julie Thacker-Scully, Mike Scully, Mel Gibson, Bruce Davey; producers, Nancy Cotton, Ken Ornstein; director, Gibson; writers, Thacker-Scully, Scully
Crew: Camera, Richard Brown; production designer, Sharon Busse; editor, Robert Bramwell; casting, Sally Stiner, Barbie Block. 30 MIN.
Cast: Nick - Keith Carradine Sam - Andrew Eiden Jack - Shaun Sipos Chris - Erik von Detten Kyle - Evan Ellingson T.J. - Jason Dolley Jimmy - Vincent Ventresca
A Review from The Washington Post
'Complete Savages': A Very Merry Mess
By Tom Shales
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 24, 2004; Page C01
In network TV, there are Sweeps Months and there are Slumps Months -- or years. Every network takes its turn in ratings hell and finds itself the subject of such recycled jokes as, "What's the difference between ABC and the Titanic? The Titanic had a band."
From the looks of its new fall shows, however -- shows such as the raucously funny "Complete Savages," premiering tonight -- ABC may be on its way out of those dreaded depths even as its parent conglomerate, the Walt Disney Co., seems to be aiming for icebergs rather than trying to avoid them.
"Complete Savages," at 8:30 on Channel 7, takes place in an American home where the social graces of "Animal House" combine with the elegant manners of "The Jerry Springer Show." The resulting environment is, strangely or not, one of loving chaos. Since the household consists of a divorced fireman-father and his five sons, the female population is bound to be low: a housekeeper who quits by setting the family's clothes afire in the back yard, and a very pretty girl named Angela who lives across the street. But the mythos of womanhood dominates by its absence.
This, in other words, is a comedy illustrating one reason why God created Eve: Without her, Adam would have turned the Garden of Eden into a dump -- candy-bar wrappers and empty beer cans everywhere, video games and iPods strangling one another with their tangled cords, pizzas of indeterminate vintage lying half-eaten in their grease-stained boxes. Bliss, yes -- but not a tenable bliss.
Not that the show is saying women are intrinsically the cleaners and cooks of the human menagerie -- only that with an assertive woman around, the boys would feel compelled to make themselves and their quarters at least halfway respectable. The point was made in such classics of yore as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." In "Savages," it is updated in wildly and winningly whimsical ways.
Keith Carradine, cast against type, plays sloppy Pop Savage (they're the Savages in more ways than one), who is part of the problem and largely unaware that a solution is needed. But when one of the brainier sons (Andrew Eiden) hears the siren song of fair Angela across the street, the lad realizes how ashamed he is of the home's Dresden decor, and a civilizing spirit begins to ripple through the house. It is encouraged by Dad, who sees remnants of his own First Crush in the lovesick son's moony fixation.
The boys in the cast are talented and distinctive, and make their grossness funny, which isn't easy. This isn't "Trainspotting"; conditions don't become so foul as to be life-threatening. Instead the household has a kind of sweet anarchy. That's best represented by a scene in which Dad and four of the boys watch their brother try to entertain Angela on the couch in the living room -- easily visible through a gaping hole in the floor of the bedroom above.
Dad and the boys whisper hints and guidance and even lower the boom now and then -- a poke with a stick designed to move the clueless kid in the right direction. At one point, a sign is lowered on a wire: "Ask her, Stupid!" (to the school dance).
There's another funny-tender scene earlier, when the stricken son is spying on Angela through the Venetian blinds in a living room window. Carradine simply pulls the blinds all the way up and there they are, the daffy Dad and his smitten son, standing in full view and waving to Angela as if seeing her off to Europe on the QM2.
Producer-writers Julie Thacker-Scully and Mike Scully have captured the way kids really argue and tease each other, and so this domestic comedy, for all its outrageous overstatement, seems more honest than most; the characters have more real character. Mel Gibson, the brooding half-a-billionaire, directed the premiere, suggesting he may actually have a sense of humor. He is also one of the series's executive producers.
Carradine makes his entrance with a line addressed to the youngest son: "Your iguana's in the toilet again -- and I found out the hard way." Later another son moans, "I'd rather be dead than responsible." Engaging and fast-moving, "Complete Savages" is about one of the most depressing challenges facing mankind, or at least certain kinds of men: Growing up. Yech.
It could well turn out to be fun and even slightly, subtly poignant watching civilization attempt to make inroads in the Savage household while the Savages struggle to hold it back -- thereby extending feckless youth for a few more precious days.
A Review from the Michigan Daily
New TGIF show a 'Complete' disappointment
By Abby Stotz, Daily Arts Writer on 10/1/04
Complete Savages is the latest addition to ABC's Friday night line-up of mediocre sitcoms, and it fits right in. The show follows the antics of five teenage boys raised by their single firefighter father who has the voice and parenting style of a drill sergeant.
The Savage men spend the pilot in a tug-of-war over whether to hire a new housekeeper, since the last one quit and made a bonfire of their clothes in the backyard. The father, Nick Savage (Keith Carradine, Deadwood ), has finally realized what pigs his sons are and declares that they are going to learn to clean up after themselves. These boys, obviously the only modern teenagers never to have heard the word chores, do their very best to revolt, establishing the show's main premise that these guys are really gross. They stoop as low as to bring in the neighbors trash and throw it about the home. No dorm room could dream of being so vile. Still, Nick prevails, tricking the boys into cleaning because he is the by far the smartest person in the house.
One of the main problems with Complete Savages is the Savage boys themselves. Each fits neatly into a teenage male stereotype, the kind that populates every high school, and winds up being wholly uninteresting. There's Chris (Erik Von Detten) the jock who weight-trains in the living room, and Jack (Shaun Sipos) the sensitive boy who strums his acoustic guitar constantly. There's also Sam (Andrew Eiden), the nerdy one who harbors a crush on the cute neighbor girl across the street.
The few bright spots in Complete Savages are Carradine as the all-knowing Nick Savage and some good one-liners. While the boys themselves are annoying, some of their lines are pretty funny. As the garbage piles up higher and higher in the kitchen, Sam tries to sneak out some trash and tells Jack that it's because he saw the garbage move. Even maggots need exercise, Jack replies.
Unless the Savage boys can manage to flesh out their one-dimensional roles, the future for Complete Savages looks bleak. ABC could use a break-out sitcom right now, but this sure isn't it.
An Article from The AP
October 21, 2004
Mel Gibson puts passion into TV
LOS ANGELES (AP) Mel Gibson leans forward, scrutinizing a monitor showing a rehearsal for his latest project. He's not directing a sweeping battle la his Oscar-winning Braveheart. It's not a scene with the transcendent suffering of his The Passion of the Christ.
In this run-through for Complete Savages, the conflict is between five brothers and the cantankerous neighbor (Betty White) who's holding hostage a prized family basketball.
They beg and plead. She assaults them with her cane.
"Comedy," Gibson murmurs with satisfaction.
Yes, it's comedy and small-screen comedy, to boot Complete Savages is a freshman sitcom for ABC (8:30 p.m. ET Friday). Keith Carradine stars as a single father trying to keep order among his teenage boys.
Gibson is giving the show everything he's got as executive producer and, for several episodes, as director.
He's even pulling triple duty in this week's episode with a cameo. When one of the boys decides to get a motorcycle, dad Nick Savage forces him to endure a highway-safety video with Gibson playing it tongue-in-cheek as Officer Cox.
On Stage 41 at NBC Universal Studios, Gibson is a multitasker. He chuckles at punch lines, then jumps up to gently prod an actor into crisper delivery. He redesigns the props ("Could we have a cane that's smaller?"). And he sets an easygoing tone.
Chatting with a crew member between takes, Gibson jokingly describes his low-carb lunch entree: "I had the double bacon-and-amphetamine burger."
"Don't hurt each other," Gibson warns the young actors playing the Savage kids during a backyard scene in which they're slapping a ball around with garden rakes.
"OK, now you can hurt each other," he tells them when the rehearsal stops.
Carradine describes Gibson as a sitcom novice but a natural. While dark violence has imbued his dramatic films, Gibson has effectively played for laughs in Maverick and What Women Want and even on Saturday Night Live.
"He has an incredible comedic sense. His brain for comedy seems to be wired halfway between the Three Stooges and Chuck Jones," Carradine said, referring to the late animator behind Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and other cartoon classics.
Julie Thacker-Scully and Mike Scully, who were producers on The Simpsons, created Complete Savages and serve as executive producers with Gibson and his partner, Bruce Davey. The husband-and-wife team say Gibson is delighting in the work.
(Doing everything for his sitcom but drumming up publicity, Gibson has declined interviews, an ABC spokeswoman said.)
"I think this is a lot of fun for him. He comes here and he knows he's going to have some laughs, guaranteed laughs all week long," said Thacker-Scully.
After the intense debate over The Passion of the Christ, the sitcom represents "a no-controversy zone," she said. "It's family here. We have a good time."
Adds Mike Scully: "He's a great collaborator. He doesn't walk around with a beret and riding crop and saying, 'Do it my way.'"
A jeans and T-shirt are Gibson's garb on the set, similar to the outfit he wears as the cover boy for Entertainment Weekly's annual Hollywood power issue. No business suit is needed to advertise his clout.
Gibson, who scored an unexpected blockbuster with the self-financed Passion, which some observers called anti-Semitic, reportedly earned $400 million-plus from its theatrical release and DVDs.
The film's success quashed speculation that Gibson was risking his career. He was honored as producer of the year this week at the Hollywood Film Awards and, as one studio executive told Entertainment Weekly: "He's an entity now a (Steven) Spielberg, a (Jerry) Bruckheimer."
Gibson's focus for the moment is on television. His Icon Productions company is behind the new dramas Clubhouse on CBS and Kevin Hill on UPN as well as Complete Savages.
Of the two major network series, neither is burning up the Nielsen ratings. Complete Savages drew 5.3 million viewers last week while Clubhouse had an audience of 8.4 million compared to 18 million for top-ranked comedy Everybody Loves Raymond on CBS and 20.9 million for the new hit ABC drama Desperate Housewives.
In the Scullys' view, the success of Desperate Housewives and another new ABC drama, Lost, is part of the reason their show is struggling. The two hourlong shows received heavy promotion; Complete Savages got relatively little.
Asked how he feels about his sitcom's performance, Scully plays it droll: "Is it out? I've been so busy watching Desperate Housewives and Lost I didn't notice."
"The lack of focus on comedy right now for ABC has been disappointing to us," he continued, "but we understand their need to launch a hit drama this year. Now that they've done it so successfully we're ..."
"Ready to ride their coattails," said Thacker-Scully, finishing the sentence.
A better time slot and more compatible shows 8 Simple Rules and Hope and Faith, which bracket Complete Savages, are more female-oriented would be ideal, said the Scullys.
"I feel like we're a thong in grandma's underwear drawer right now," is how Thacker-Scully puts it.
The couple became friendly with Gibson while working on a fund-raiser for Malibu High School (Scully and Gibson children were enrolled there). They share a familiarity with big broods like the one in Complete Savages : The Scullys have five kids, Gibson and his wife, Robyn, have seven.
Whether Gibson's heavyweight status can help the series relocate, or survive, is unclear. Other Hollywood top dogs have seen their low-rated TV shows unceremoniously dumped, including Titanic director James Cameron (Dark Angel ) and Bruckheimer (Skin ).
Uncertainty aside, the project that was intended to be fun for all has lived up to the goal, the Scullys said. Gibson would seem to agree.
"I see blue skies," he croons during rehearsal, a smile on his face.
To watch clips of Complete Savages go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Complete+Savages+tv+show
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20130406183030/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/completesavages.html
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DADjY9OyW_o
� Date: Sun February 20, 2005 � Filesize: 45.5kb � Dimensions: 450 x 300 �
Keywords: Complete Savages Cast