“Crowded” finally limped out of the world of television comedy with its last episode, “Come Back” and it will definitely not be doing so. This off-putting comedic project starring Patrick Warburton, Stacy Keach, Carrie Preston, Miranda Cosgrove, Mia Serafino and Carlease Burke came out of the gate trying too hard and losing much in translation. It was not funny at all, but annoyingly “in your face” with all the frantic posturing of an attention starved child.
The cast, as separate entities, had everything they needed to make this a winning comedic enterprise. Sadly, the sum of all its parts did not make Crowded funny. The show had its moments, specifically when drafting in comedy acting legends Betty White and Carol Kane, but the recipe was lacking something and like a rushed soufflé never rose to a splendid air-like finish.
The comedy was clunky, forced and irritating.
It was getting better. After discovering the Betty White and Carol Kane episodes, it was decided to give the show another look. The show was finding its feet, the pacing improved and the “pay attention to me” attitude and posturing was gone. The cast were gelling and Keach had stopped bellowing his lines like his hearing aid batteries had died.
“Crowded” was never going to match the dizzying heights of comic gold like Seinfeld but it had gotten past cutting its baby teeth with a cast that needed time to suss out how to work in front of a live audience. The multi-camera format must be difficult to work around whilst still playing to the crowd.
Each of the cast had their own styles of comedy and it was, perhaps, this clashing of delivery that also hurt the show initially.
The last episode “Come Back” had Mike (Warburton) and Martina (Preston) going up to Bob’s (Keach) cabin for a romantic get away. Bob and Alice (Burke) were going as well but had to beg off last minute. The girls opt to stay behind until they hear a scary noise from the basement and head to the cabin as well.
Mike and Martina discover his mother Linda (Debra Monk) hiding in the cabin. Then the girls turn up and Bob follows shortly after and finally Alice arrives to find Linda cuddling her first husband in the couch-bed.
The problem is that this may have been funny about 20 years ago, when the American dream was still running strong and the kids flew the coop never to return because they all had careers and families of their own. The show’s premise of chicks returning to the nest would have been funnier because it would not be the norm.
Another issue is the rushed feeling of each episode. Granted the run time is under 30 minutes for each one, but the plot line was fast and many times had lapses in logic. The last episode, for instance, features Mike’s mother Linda.
Carol Kane, in her guest role, was a faux Linda who almost fooled everyone except Mike. The problem with this storyline is that the woman has been missing for 40 years, while Bob should have been able to recognize Linda without issue, Mike, who was a child when she deserted him, should have had major problems.
To avoid kicking a show that has been cancelled already it makes no real sense to pick over what may have caused the show to fail. Instead perhaps a moment of silence for the show that was getting better, in terms of cast cohesion, would be in order. 13 episodes, all under 30 minutes long, is a short time period to test a show’s potential.
“Crowded” may have gotten better as the season wore on, but the problem with the show can be seen in the last episode, “Come Back.” The episode was funny, just not that funny. Therein lies the basic issue with the show, even with the series getting better, it failed to hit the comedic highs required.