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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.]
HOME GAME (BUSTED CBS PILOT)
(written by Christopher J. Nowak & Warren Bell; directed by Ken Whittingham; TRT: 21:16)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out? It's based on the life of NFL player-turned-ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth while Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson are among the executive producers.
The plot in a nutshell: After 12 years in the NFL, Denver Broncos offensive lineman Joe Allen (Rob Riggle) is finally home... much to his family's chagrin. He's a proverbial bull in the china shop that is the routine established by his wife Nikki (Constance Zimmer) as he treats retirement like a vacation, suggesting she blow off her commitments to go to the movies in the middle of the day or making a cartoonishly large breakfast for his disinterested daughters - popular Tess (Jenn Proske), bookworm Julia (Elizabeth McLaughlin) and tomboy Charlotte (Stefania Owen). Overall if he's ambitious about anything it's making up for lost time with his kids who more or less grew up without him around due to his career.
That however doesn't make him a good father as in an effort to get all three girls to stay home on a Saturday night (something Nikki hasn't been able to do in recent years), he inadvertently allows eldest Tess to throw a party with 50 of her closest friends. Said screw up leads to more screws ups and well, you can do the math from here. Along for the ride are Joe's slightly clueless brother Scott (Ken Marino), who's more interested in launching his band than running the sports bar Joe invested in; and Byron (apologies as I didn't recognize the actor), a fellow Bronco alumnus who's more than content with spending his days playing golf and enjoying free drinks from fans. Ultimately, Joe realizes he's the rookie when it comes to parenting and he needs to learn from the veteran, Nikki.
What works: Sigh...
What doesn't: ...that was, let's just go with not good. If anything "Home Game" succeeds in fulfilling every lazy prophecy you could make about the show off the logline alone: the lead character will use cliched sports metaphors to express his feelings, he will catastrophically misinterpret how to be a cool dad, there will be jokes involving sending pictures of your junk (a la Brett Favre) and it will ultimately be yet another variation on the dumb dad/smart mom family sitcom. Sure enough by the end of act one, Joe manages to work in the phrases "calling an audible," "two minute drill" and "scoreboard" in all their soul-crushing, cliched-filled glory.
And by the end of the show, after the girls are horrified by all the graphic sex in "True Blood" ("I know my daughters," Joe boasts early on about a proposed TV night. "What do teenage girls love these days: vampires!"), after Nikki discloses Joe's flair for sending "special shower pictures" to her girlfriends and after the cops have arrived to break up the aforementioned party, sure enough, the checklist is complete. And for those of you playing at home: bonus points if you predicted Joe would break the washing machine trying to do laundry or spend the cold open completely naked (Joe: "I feel like a Roman general." Nikki: "Well put your sword away."). Other than that... nope that's it.
The bottom line: Poor Riggle, Zimmer and Marino. You all deserve better.