Uncle Buck has been a hard sell. It is difficult to not envision the late great John Candy in the role. This is not to say that Mike Epps is not good in the part, he is just not John Candy. There seems to be some issue with the show as the producers have moved the episodes about fairly freely. “Ride Along” and “Brother” are out of sync (Sorry.) and it is a tad confusing.
There can be many reasons to shuffle the episodes around. According to The Wrap Uncle Buck dropped a massive 33 percent from its debut episode. This may explain the moving around of the segments.
To be fair, “Ride Along” is funny as is “Brother.” Unfortunately the episodes focus more on the adult performers and less on the Uncle Buck/kids relationship. It is the children who made the cinematic version with John Candy and it should be the same on this re-imagining of the tale.
The show’s pilot followed the film’s formula to a huge degree. Having Buck working hard to get the kids to accept him as well as his brother’s wife.
“L’il Scarface” came next (it was actually episode number three) and focussed once again on the kids. It should be mentioned that the child actors are all amazing. Iman Benson, as Tia, is beyond superb, Aalyrah Caldwell as Maizy is also on top form and Sayeed Shahidi as Miles is consistently spot on as the male child with attitude.
“Ride Along” was about mistrust and doing the school run. It was also about Alexis (Nia Long) bonding with Buck. “Brothers” was all about sibling and sorority sister rivalry. The children were part of each episode’s plot but not the focus.
Herein lies the problem with Uncle Buck, there is too much attention paid to the parents. The film version was all about the bachelor uncle and the kids, the “grownups” were very much in the background. Changing the format so that Buck is now a “manny” to the kids could still work but the parents, Alexis and Will (James Lesure) need to be on the periphery and not center stage.
Understandably this is a vehicle for Mike Epps and that is fine. (Epps is a favorite at Mike’s Film Talk and we were gutted to miss his Vegas show.) But in all honesty, without the show centering on Epps interacting comedically with the children it might as well be called “The Mike Epps Show.”
Uncle Buck is funny, not sidesplittingly so but funny nonetheless, but the move away from the kids is quite probably the reason viewing figures have dropped. The character of Buck is also very different from the original version. Less a buffoon and more a womanizing party animal who no one would leave in charge of their kids.
That there are problems with the show is evidenced by the episodic shuffling. It appears that the producers are trying to up the comedy quotient without adhering to the show’s theme, “Uncle Buck” and the kids.
Nia Long and James Lesure are great performers. They bring much to the table…too much. There needs to be less “mom and pop” and more Buck, Tia, Maizy and Miles.
Uncle Buck airs Tuesdays on ABC. Keep an eye on the schedule, last Tuesday there were two episode, out of sequence, and slapped together. See what you think. Is Mike Epps Uncle Buck or should the title be changed to The Mike Epps Show.