Crowded: Overdone Hit and Miss Comedy (Review)

Crowded is uneven in its delivery and a bit hit and miss in the comedy department, sometimes slightly missing the mark and other times being woefully overdone.

Crowded - Pilot

Crowded is uneven in its delivery and a bit hit and miss in the comedy department, sometimes slightly missing the mark and other times being woefully overdone. It is  the story of two “youngish” parents whose two daughters move back home after four years of being “child” free. They also get the grandparents staying in town, “since you need us now.”

Carrie Preston and Patrick Warburton are the parents.  Miranda Cosgrove and Mia Serafino are the daughters with Stacy Keach and Carlease Burke  as the grandparents. The girls are millennials who are in a crunch. The grandparents were migrating to Florida and change their minds when the kids move back in. 

There are moments of true hilarity, sadly these are more the exception and not the rule.  The Moore family are not deep characters, despite one girl wanting to be an actress or singer and the other wanting to be an astronaut.

Even fter the pilot and the second episode it is never revealed what Mike (Warburton) or Martina (Preston) do for a living. Keach’s character Bob and his wife Alice (Burke) own a bar, apparently.

Crowded is shot in front of a live audience, one hopped up on adrenaline or speed as they laugh so much and with such hilarity that it feels like a laugh-track. The show must be shot live as the actors all perform  like they are on a proper stage and not on a studio set with an audience watching.

The delivery of lines is overdone, as if the actors do not have microphones or mics over the set.  When the gags work best are when the performers forget and act for the camera and not for  the audience. Example: In the pilot, veteran actor Stacy Keach has his volume level cranked up to max and half-turned to the audience when he said at least half of his lines.

By episode two, the actors all calmed down a bit and this time the gags were funnier. Mike taking his father’s advice and watching Internet porn only to have the screen freeze just as the three women of the house return was funny.  It was helped by a calmer delivery.

There are gags that work. The texting bit where Mike asks his parents to text before showing up so he can text back that they are not home works brilliantly.  Bob and Alice do text but just before walking in the door, putting Mike’s plan off completely.

Like many new sitcoms, this one feels rushed, forced and over the top with the cast’s performances all screaming “look at me I’m being funny.” Rather than playing the parts straight, which Warburton does for the most part,  (to give the actor  credit where it’s due) most of the cast are trying to be funny.

Once again, the second episode does flow better but still suffers from the older actors being too loud and too stagey. Interestingly, the two younger performers, Serafino and Cosgrove are the best out of the ensemble at underplaying their parts.

Creator Suzanne Martin has a good track record, Hot in Cleveland and The Client List  for example.  Crowded has potential, its bona fides, in terms of cast are excellent. If the director can just tone them all down, with the exception of Serafino and Cosgrove, the show’s comedy will increase exponentially and match the audiences OTT fervor.

Crowded airs Tuesdays on NBC.