[12/29/11 - 07:39 AM]
The Futon's First Look: "Rob" (CBS)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

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.]

(written by Lew Morton & Rob Schneider; directed by Jamie Widdoes; TRT: 22:22)

The network's description: ""Rob" is a comedy starring Rob Schneider as a lifelong bachelor who just married into a tight-knit Mexican-American family. Rob is a successful landscape architect who, after a whirlwind romance, marries Maggie, a beautiful, smart book translator, who is way out of his league. After eloping in Las Vegas, Maggie and Rob must break the news to her overprotective, judgmental parents, Rosa and Fernando, that they are married. Shocked by news that they've eloped, the family remains skeptical of Maggie's choice for a husband, with the exception of her uncle Hector, the black sheep of the family, who immediately declares himself Rob's best friend. Rob hopes he will one day win over his new in-laws, aunts, uncles and Maggie's Abuelita, and live happily ever after with his one true love, Maggie."

What did they leave out? Nadine Velazquez, Tony Plana and Ada Maris starred in the original pilot as Maggie and her parents while Claudia Bassols, Cheech Marin and Diana Maria Riva, respectively, took over for the series.

The plot in a nutshell: "If getting married impulsively was a bad idea, Vegas wouldn't have chapels open at 3 o'clock in the morning," Rob (Rob Schneider) explains to his bride Maggie (Claudia Bassols), whom he met just six weeks ago. And while they're obviously mismatched - she's a supermodel dress shop owner, he's... well, Rob Schneider - they're also very much in love. The honeymoon however quickly comes to an end when Maggie decides to tell her family, whom she's never kept anything from, let alone something like eloping. And so the OCD-stricken, man of solitude that is Rob is thrust into the world of Maggie's boisterous Mexican-American family.

There he meets her father Fernando (Cheech Marin) and mother Rosa (Diana Maria Riva), who not surprisingly are puzzled by Maggie's choice in a mate. Rob of course does little to ingratiate himself into their good graces, whether it's making inadvertently racist comments (on the size of Maggie's family: "Now I know what's going on during all those siestas.") or - in one of the most painfully ridiculous scenarios imaginable - appearing to molest Maggie's beloved Abuelita (Lupe Ontiveros). He does however find one friend in Maggie's uncle Hector (Eugenio Derbez), who's just excited to see someone else take the blunt of the family's disapproval. Ultimately, Rob powers through ("Overcoming massive screw-ups is not new territory for me," he tells Maggie on the drive home. "I used to have bangs.") and through the usual sitcom shenanigans gets a tentative seal of approval from Fernando and Rosa.

What works: It's every bit the show you're expecting...

What doesn't: ...and not in a good way. Whether it's insulting Mexican-American stereotypes ("I'm visiting from Mexico for the weekend," Hector whispers to Rob. "I'm not leaving... ever!"), limp noodle cracks about Rob's height ("If you stay with him... you'll never wear high heels again," Rosa tells her daughter), eye-rolling quips about how their families are different ("I am [close to my family]," Rob insists. "I see them almost every Christmas. My mom's kind of needy that way.") or just jokes only the laugh track seems to find funny (Hector, after being asked where Abuelita is: "I put her in the car an hour ago."), all of said bases are covered. And yes, in case you were worried, there's the prerequisite Selena joke in there too.

Sure the show tries to have some fun by making Fernando and Rosa conservative (he wants to build a border fence to keep competing Mexicans out of the country, she disapproves of Rob's vocation as a landscape architect since it's basically a gardener) but it's all in the name of finding the lowest-common denominator (Fernando, on his employees: "Between the hundred of them I think they have like three social security numbers."; Rosa, offering a suggestion to Rob: "I just wish sometimes you people wouldn't use a leaf blower. It's so noisy."). The end result is none of the characters feel real, but rather instead come across as hackneyed, unfunny joke machines. Not aiding in said quest is Rob's perpetual bull in a china shop status - he doesn't just knock over Abuelita's shrine to her late husband, he spills hot wax on himself and takes his pants off. I get that he's supposed to screw up but it's routinely overinflated schadenfreude at best. Overall...

The bottom line: ...don't have high hopes for this one.

  [december 2011]  


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