BC Review

CBS's "Worst Week" Far From the Week's Worst

9/22/2008 01:47:18 AM

Worst Week, the new CBS sitcom premiering tonight at 9:30 ET, isn’t the week’s worst. Not even close. (For the record, that dishonor goes to NBC’s Knight Rider, arriving Wednesday.)  But while it’s garnered more praise than most new shows this season, I question both its initial impact and its long-range prospects.

Kyle Bornheiser stars as a latter-day Job, the walking embodiment of Murphy’s Law. If anything can go wrong, it will – and in this series, that means failing to impress the parents of his girlfriend (Erinn Hayes). Especially her dad, played by Kurtwood Smith with the same sort of scowling deadpan he perfected in That ’70s Show.

Smith is just right, and the cascading waves of broad physical comedy that make up Worst Week make it a somewhat refreshing sitcom – but only in a French farce “anything goes” sense. It doesn’t work, at least initially, on multiple levels, like Fawlty Towers, the all-time classic in this genre. The characters aren’t real enough, or consistent enough, to make you feel their pain as well as chuckle at it.

My bigger worry, though, is that Worst Week is based on a British series that was intentionally very limited in scope – its week really was a week, played out on TV nightly, and that was it, except for a second go-round and some wrap-up specials. On a weekly schedule and budget, will CBS’s Worst Week maintain both its premise and its energy?

Hard to say. But unlike many new series, which are dismissable from the start, Worst Week at least entertains – and, regarding its future, entertains at least a glimmer of hope.

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