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Surviving Suburbia aired from April until August 2009 on ABC.
Steve and Anne Patterson, along with their two children, Henry and Courtney, enjoy easy living in the suburbs. That is, until their new next-door neighbors begin causing problems.
An Article from the Hartford Courant
'Surviving Suburbia' Gets Lifeline from ABC
By Rick Porter
February 4, 2009
"Surviving Suburbia" a comedy initially intended for The CW, is moving into a higher-end neighborhood.
The series, which stars Bob Saget as a husband and father who finds it hard to be left alone in his suburban neighborhood, has found a new home at ABC. The show will debut at 9:30 p.m. ET Monday, April 6, following "Dancing with the Stars."
"Surviving Suburbia" was initially part of The CW's deal with studio Media Rights Capital to program the fifth-place network's Sunday night and was slated for a November premiere. When the other MRC shows tanked, however, The CW severed its deal, and it appeared that the series would join the likes of "The Ortegas," "Fearless" and "The Singles Table" as shows that were picked up but never aired.
ABC, however, was in the market for a family-friendly comedy and entered into talks with MRC about acquiring "Suburbia," which has 13 episodes in the can. The deal results in a huge upgrade for the show, which will have a lead-in audience of about 18 million to 20 million people, thanks to "Dancing with the Stars." That's about 27 times bigger than the audience for "In Harm's Way," the show "Suburbia" was to have followed on The CW.
The pickup results in something of a homecoming for Saget, who starred in "Full House" and hosted "America's Funniest Home Videos" on ABC in the early '90s.
"Surviving Suburbia" also stars Cynthia Stevenson ("Men in Trees") as Saget's wife and Jared Kusnitz and G Hannelius as their kids. Dan Cortese ("What I Like About You") and Jere Burns ("Good Morning, Miami") will have recurring roles.
"Roseanne" and "Reba" veteran Kevin Abbott created the series and is executive producing with Michael Hanel and Mindy Schultheis.
A Review from variety
April 2, 2009 2:09PM PT
By Brian Lowry
From humble roots — as part of Media Rights Capital’s brokered (and subsequently broken) night on the CW — to a plum spot after “Dancing With the Stars,” “Surviving Suburbia” has already proven a survivor of sorts. ABC probably got the rights for a song, and figured the “Dancing” audience wouldn’t mind a throwback — a show so fastidiously old-fashioned as to feel assembled from pieces of ’70s family sitcoms. Having labored to distance himself from “Full House,” Bob Saget is back in “Father Doesn’t Know Best” mode. And TV is certainly poorer for it.
Under the aegis of exec producer Kevin Abbott (“Reba”), “Suburbia” goes retro with the Patterson clan, which consists of Saget’s cranky dad Steve — a self-professed screw-up — his loving (if perpetually sniping) wife Anne (Cynthia Stevenson), and their two kids (Jared Kusnitz and G Hannelius). The girl has a fixation on “High School Musical’s” Zac Efron, which is the only clue we’re not back in 1984, sort of like “Lost” with a lobotomy.
In the premiere, a neighbor (guest Dan Cortese) asks Steve to watch his house, and Steve and his pal Dr. Jim (Jere Burns) almost burn it down. Steve’s recovery in saving the place is viewed as an act of heroism, leaving him to deal with the question of whether he should come clean about what transpired. Presumably, Fat Albert and the other Cosby Kids will help him make the right decision — or maybe it just feels that way.
Saget is a master of snappy deadpan delivery, but for those who have enjoyed his truly filthy standup material, this plunge back into four-camera “TGIF”-style domestic banality is a trifle jarring. That said, the series isn’t entirely G-rated, with several rather risque sex and stripper jokes thrown in, mostly because, well, what else were they going to do?
ABC is nevertheless providing the program a prime launchpad after “Dancing,” perhaps seeing it as comfort food for the female audience that will be set adrift at 9:30 Monday. It’s a calculated risk, to be sure, but rest assured, nothing could be more calculated than “Suburbia’s” dated survival plan.
ABC, Mon. April 6, 9:30 p.m.
Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Acme Prods. in association with Media Rights Capital. Executive producers, Kevin Abbott, Michael Hanel, Mindy Schultheis; co-executive producer, Franco E. Bario; producer, Matt Conner; director, Emile Levisetti; writer, Donald Beck.
Crew: Camera, Bryan Hays; production designer, Jay Pelissier; editor, Ron Volk; music, Adam Gorgoni; casting, Greg Orson, Lesli Gelles. RUNNING TIME: 30 MIN.
Cast: Steve Patterson - Bob Saget Anne Patterson - Cynthia Stevenson Dr. Jim - Jere Burns Henry Patterson - Jared Kusnitz Courtney Patterson - G Hannelius Onno - Dan Cortese
A Review from The LA Times
Call it a cynic's guide to surviving the 'burbs, but it's really an old-fashioned sitcom with Bob Saget at the helm playing a grumpy dad.
April 06, 2009|ROBERT LLOYD | TELEVISION CRITIC
The second situation comedy to star Bob Saget, ABC's "Surviving Suburbia," comes 14 years after the end of "Full House," the cuddly series in which he played loving father to the Olsen twins (conjoined in a single part). It is also 12 years since he hosted that influential bastion of adorable domestic hilarity, "America's Funniest Home Videos." And most every appearance since -- talk show spots, "Entourage" cameo, the dirty-joke movie "The Aristocrats," the hip-hop parody "Rollin' With Saget" and, above all, his dark, blue stand-up comedy -- has been, in effect if not by intent, to prove to the world that he is really Not That Guy.
In his new show -- a never-aired orphan of the CW's unsuccessful arrangement with subcontractors Media Rights Capital -- Saget is again Not That Guy, though he is back playing a father in the most venerable of sitcom formats, the family comedy. Network promos promise a twist on the form, with lines such as "He's not getting older, he's getting bitter," "Father knows less" and "If this is the American dream, please wake him when it's over." But while its cynicism about suburbia is superficially novel, the show itself is quite old-fashioned if not old hat: lame dad, smart mom, cute child, knowing child, strange neighbor. Door here, door there, couch in the middle.
Tonight's opening episode does not seem to have been the pilot -- it sets us down without explanation in a family whose only distinguishing characteristic is a petulant, cranky father who occasionally demonstrates an affection for his lovely wife (Cynthia Stevenson, excellent as always) and likable children (Jared Kusnitz as the older boy and G. Hannelius as the younger girl). It is not clear why, beyond some congenital misanthropy, he should be at such odds with his surroundings or his neighbors or why he is there in the first place. But he does not like it.
"The whole neighborhood thinks you're a grumpy old man," says his wife, "and the only defense I can give is that you're not that old."
"I'm a screw-up. Everybody knows that," he admits. "It only bothered you when we moved into this damned neighborhood." Just when they arrived there is not clear, either, or what better life it was that they left, or what any of them do to afford their big old Arts & Craftsy house. They are not spending their money on Dad's wardrobe, in any case.
Like most stand-up comics who front sitcoms, Saget is not a great actor; he gets his points across and he can time a joke, but the deeper and more subtle shadings of a character are beyond him. This is not fatal, certainly. The usual remedy is an able partner who can pick up your slack. Just as Roseanne Barr leaned on John Goodman, and Ray Romano on Patricia Heaton, Saget has the wonderfully musical Stevenson (of "Men in Trees" and much else) to rely on. It's not quite enough, however. It doesn't help that Saget is required to sell as funny lines like "Fish are terrible pets. They don't do anything. They don't come when you call them. They don't look happy when you come in the room. They smell like fish. God, I hate fish." But he doesn't give you enough to like about the character -- or to dislike, in an invigorating way.
Jere Burns plays Saget's less mature and apparently only friend; the impression one gets is that they are friends because no one else will have them. In tonight's episode, they almost burn down neighbor Dan Cortese's house, then claim to have saved it, for which Saget is falsely celebrated as a hero by the community.
"Finally, they get to see the man I always said you were," says his wife. But from here, as from there, there's really nothing much to see.
A Review from The Washington Post
TV Preview: Tom Shales on the Return of Bob Saget in 'Surviving Suburbia'
By Tom Shales
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 6, 2009
Surviving "Surviving Suburbia" would be a simpler matter if that didn't require tolerating Bob Saget. That complicates things.
Saget makes his return to prime-time sitcomedy in this series -- premiering tonight on ABC -- after an impressive eight seasons on "Full House," a solid hit for the same network until its timely demise in 1995. Saget starred, but it couldn't have justifiably been called "The Bob Saget Show" because the real attractions for its youngish audience were the Olsen twins and actor-singer John Stamos. Still, Saget certainly deserves to put it on his list of credits.
The show was central to a two-hour Friday night comedy block that was never lip-deep in critical bouquets but innocuously and efficiently entertained the family audience for which it was designed (it was so good-natured and sweet that it seems almost rude to speak in terms of demographics). Once it ended, however, and Saget returned to a career in stand-up comedy, he declared himself liberated from a kind of prison, displaying one of the pottiest mouths in the business and even trying to wring laughs by trashing the series that had made him famous.
His material, showcased in a comedy concert taped by HBO, wasn't brilliantly raw like that of such comedy giants as Eddie Murphy or Sam Kinison; it was just a lot of self-serving smut. For Saget to have tiptoed off the stage and into retirement would have seemed like humane philanthropy by comparison.
What performers do in their private lives, or in other venues, theoretically shouldn't come into consideration when evaluating their TV work, but Saget behaved so badly that it was hard to ignore or forgive. Until, that is, an appearance on the HBO comedy "Entourage," with Saget playing a sort of parody of his new, dyspeptic, sleazy little self. This was, admittedly, funny -- even his hunched-over, shambling posture suggested he had become a character worth playing.
What you get in "Surviving Suburbia" is a moderated Saget somewhere between the chipper chirpiness of "Full House" and the nasty snideness of his stand-up. But the show itself is not so much fashionably retro as bumblingly old hat -- no jokes about crabgrass and burnt pot roast maybe, but cute kids, a perky wife (easy-to-take Cynthia Stevenson) and a buddy (Jere Burns as "Dr. Jim") who is not just a wacky oddball but also a malicious imbecile.
In the premiere, Dr. Jim tags along when Saget, as "Steve Patterson," enters the home of a vacationing neighbor (Dan Cortese, onetime MTV pretty boy) to feed the fish, as he grudgingly promised he'd do. Dr. Jim first invades the neighbor's privacy, snooping through an address book in search of strippers, then clumsily manages to set the curtains, and potentially the whole house, on fire.
Instead of confessing what really happened, Patterson claims he's a hero who saw the house burning from outside and fearlessly barged in to save the little fishies from boiling. And so on, with predictable moral messages and sunny denouement -- breaking the "no hugs, no lessons" rule that the creators of "Seinfeld" lived by. That's no crime, but much about the series is so simplistic and sappy, you'd think "Roseanne" had never happened, even though at least one of the show's producers worked on "Roseanne" during its run.
If not for token topical references -- to terrorism, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and Zac Efron -- and the requisite sprinkling of sexual innuendos, this could almost be a '50s sitcom, hatched back when suburbia was still a talked-about part of the postwar world. It's hard to imagine what the pitch meeting for this show was like -- were ABC executives promised a series that even founding father Walt Disney might have enjoyed?
He'll enjoy it more now that he's dead, if you'll pardon the expression.
Although Executive Producer Kevin Abbott created the show, the pilot was written by Donald Beck. Five "consulting" producers are listed in the opening credits; an abundance of producers is the norm in prime-time TV, but you have to wonder how such a basic and generic comedy required so much consulting. It has the air of something two teenage pals concocted while goofing around on the Internet, but the result of that would probably be fresher and bolder than "Surviving Suburbia" is.
Maybe there's a deftly hidden subtext somewhere inside. Maybe it's a spoof so subtle that it's hard to delineate the spoofery. Perhaps it's an attempt to make a 21st-century show that could be mistaken for a Nick at Nite rerun. The one thing "Surviving Suburbia" definitely isn't: a show worth tearing 30 minutes out of your life to see, or one worth breaking a vow -- in case you made one -- never to see any other show starring Bob Saget as long as you live.
Surviving Suburbia (30 minutes) debuts tonight at 9:30 on Channel 7.
To watch clips of Surviving Suburbia go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=surviving+suburbia+tv+show
For a review of Surviving Suburbia go to https://tv.avclub.com/surviving-suburbia-hero-1798206003
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Keywords: Bob Saget & Cynthia Stevenson