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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2011-2012 season, now in its sixth year! Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
OUTNUMBERED (BUSTED FOX PILOT)
(written by Barbara Wallace & Thomas R. Wolfe; directed by Larry Charles; TRT: 23:40)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out? This is the second time FOX has tried to import the format from the U.K. - Ken Marino and Brooke Bloom toplined the last incarnation in 2008 (read our review).
The plot in a nutshell: Working parents Pete (Cliff Chamberlain) and Sue (Ana Ortiz) Tulley are overwhelmed by their three young kids - smart-but-unmotivated Jake (Mateus Ward), precociously sardonic Lucy (Ava Acres) and perpetual liar Ben (Gibson Bobby Sjobeck) - not to mention the continuous presence of Sue's stubborn father (Cheech Marin). It's gotten to the point that they're not above putting food in their kids' lunches a few days past their expiration dates, drinking wine out of sippy cup or pretending they didn't see the latest lice outbreak. They're just hoping to make it through the day, which generally involves trying to dodge getting roped into the latest school commitment or guilt trip from the parents who have all the time in the world for their kids.
Unfortunately their plate gets even more full as Pete is forced to sign Jake up for the creepy Indian Scouts when their leader Howard (Jeff Perry) indicates he can put in a good word for him at a prestigious middle school, while Sue furthers her pariah status at school after accidentally running over a mom's foot in the pick-up line. Even worse, Ben is sent to see a psychologist by the school's principal (an amusing Robert Wisdom) after telling everyone Sue is dying. Ultimately, no matter how bad they look or how embarrassed they feel, they love their kids. Hopefully that's enough.
What works: The show does a great job capturing the weird randomness of children without feeling forced as well as the uncensored thoughts parents find themselves having. The kids in general here are a hoot - whether it's Lucy stoically reminding her mom she remembers the mean things she's done to her and keeping a list of people she hates, including Osama bin Laden (Pete: "What are the red Xs for?" Lucy: "What do you think they're for?"); or eldest Jake casually reminding his parents they probably would have been better off if they stopped with him.
It's all cute, smile-worthy stuff as Pete tries to bargain with Jake to go along with his scheme to get him into a nicer school ("If you have any desire to do more with your life than be an articulate drifter you gotta do what I say.") only to have it undone by Sue accusing Howard's group of being racist ("I'd love to see you call us racist after one of your Big Chief Tomahawk pizza nights!" Howard fires back).
What doesn't: Ultimately though there's not much difference between this version and the Ken Marino/Brooke Bloom incarnation as its low-key tone and relaxed style feels out of place with the usual manic nature of FOX's comedies. In other words, if they passed on the previous take...
The bottom line: ...why do the same thing again?