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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 Deseret News
NBC's 'Family' isn't 'Happy'
By Scott D. Pierce
Deseret Morning News
Published: September 9, 2003 12:00 am
HOLLYWOOD — John Larroquette ("Night Court") and Christine Baranski ("Cybill") are hugely talented people who, in the right vehicle, can create lots of laughs. Unfortunately, "Happy Family" isn't the right vehicle.
The new NBC sitcom, which premieres tonight at 7:30 on Ch. 5, isn't awful. But it is about a pretty awful family. And somehow it never quite works.
Larroquette and Baranski star as Peter and Annie Breenan, a couple we're supposed to believe love each other, although there's little evidence of that. Peter's primary concern is getting his three grown children out of the house for good. Annie's a bit more conflicted on that issue, but she's on board.
But that isn't proving easy. The older two kids have moved out, but they're still around all the time. And the youngest one goes in tonight's pilot episode, but he doesn't go far.
(I might worry about giving away too many plot points here except for the fact that NBC has given them away — ad nauseam — in the promotional spots it's running for the show.)
Young Tim (Tyler Francavilla) is, at 20, pretty much a failure at everything. When he flunks out of junior college, his parents try tough love and tell him to move out.
He does . . . going all the way next door. He moves in with Maggie, the 38-year-old divorcee (Susan Gibney) he used to refer to as "the scary old lady next door."
His parents are not pleased. They're even less pleased when they find out about it by discovering Tim in his jockey shorts at Maggie's house.
This is not, however, their only parenting problem. Older son Todd (Jeff Davis) is seemingly successful and established. He's even engaged to a perfectly nice woman. But he's also having an affair with another woman and can't make up his mind who he's really in love with.
And daughter Sara (Melanie Paxson) is doing OK at work but is a failure in her personal life. Unable to find a boyfriend, she spends her time playing Scrabble with Mom and Dad and obsessing about her relationship with her pet bird.
"I'm starting to think we weren't very good parents," Annie says. Gee, ya think?
There are a few laughs to be had in "Happy Family." More than a lot of what passes for sitcoms these days. But by the second episode the premise already seems to be wearing thin. And that's not a good sign.
And there's a certain mean-spiritedness that pervades the show. These characters talk about loving each other, but there's no evidence of it. They just don't seem real. Which maybe shouldn't be such a big surprise, given that executive producer David Guarascio said he and his partner, Moses Port, were sitting "around doing everything we can to avoid writing."
"We were just in a phase where we're talking a lot about what we were like in our 20s, which was sort of a complete mess," Guarascio said. "And being in a place that we're both fathers who have kids now, we sort of started to realize everything that kind of like we put our parents through. So we were just, 'You know what would be sweet? If we make a show that was just a big apology to our parents for the crap we put them through, with, like, the little P.S. of, 'By the way, all the manipulation and passive-aggressiveness didn't really help. It actually sort of hurt.' "
Gee, that's love, isn't it?
Chances are, we aren't going to have to wait long to see if the premise of "Happy Family" holds up. It probably isn't going to last long enough to find out.
A Review from the New York Post
‘HAPPY’ AIN’T THE RIGHT WORD
By Linda Stasi
Happy Family (one-half star)
Tonight at 8:30 on WNBC/Ch. 4
‘HAPPY Family,” which is not the name of a Chinese Restaurant but tonight’s other new NBC show, is not only not happy, it’s miserable.
In fact, the only truly good thing about this truly dreadful show is that it’s lead-in is “Whoopi” instead of the other way around, which would have virtually insured that no one would have been around long enough to actually see it.
I found myself inadvertently hitting the “display” button to see how much longer I’d have to watch this show that’s such a dog it should have Alpo as a sponsor.
Updating the usual nuclear family situation, “Happy Family,” is about a dad and mom, (John Larroquette and Christine Baranski) whose wacky kids are finally out of the house and yet still manage to create the same havoc as school-age kids in other family sit-coms.
It has a laugh track so loud it might actually wake you up.
Dear God! Where’s the writer’s strike when you really need one?
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.
To watch some clips from Happy Family go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=happy+family+john+larroquette&aq=f
For a review of Happy Family go to https://www.popmatters.com/happy-family-2496227171.html
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Keywords: Happy Family Cast