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.

Life in the Real Desert: The Stacy Keach Lookalike or Who WAS That?

Stacy Keach at film festival
Stacy…Was that you?

Life in the Real Desert continues to be amusing, challenging, frustrating and, sometimes, really odd. A perfect example of the “odd” occurred this morning when a Stacy Keach “lookalike” had a right old go at me outside the Burger King where I write most days. It may even have been Keach, Quartzsite is very close to the California border and I have seem people who look a bit like celebs pass through this little burg. If it was Stacy? Lay off the cocaine matey, it’s not good for you and makes you act like a grade A prick. Remember London Heathrow?

The details of my little “almost” altercation with Stacy Keach or his lookalike, began with my arriving and seeing that two well built (as in spending a bit of time on the old weights) chaps were sitting in “my spot.” (I normally sit in this booth because of the electrical sockets and it allows me to see my bike, it has been tampered with.) I had a chat with my mate and then got changed.

Coming out I noticed that the two fellers were still there. I decide to put my white box back on my Schwinn and then call my mum to tell her I’d heard from my daughter Meg. As I’m waiting for the phone to ring her end, I see this “Keach-looking” chap glaring bloody murder at me through the window.

I point to my chest and mouth, “Is there a problem?” Like a red flag to a bull, my gesture and question galvanized this man and he came charging out of the Burger King, I am still on the phone with it pressed to my ear. “Are you all right mate?” I ask, “Is there some sort of problem?”

Pointing a big “muscly” finger at me as he approached, very aggressively, he growled and said, “If you take another picture of me…” I pull the phone from my ear, “I’m not taking any pictures, I’m talking on the bloody phone.” My mother is on the other end asking what is going on and he then says “Stop taking pictures.”

I move the phone away from my face, “I’m on the phone to my mum mate. I’m not taking any pictures. Now you need to back off before I call the police, yeah?” (My inner London gangster type obviously comes out when threatened.) He replied that I could do just that but he then turned tail and went back into Burger King rather quickly. His mate came out as he went in and said, rather inexplicably, “The air conditioner is on inside.”

The whole incident lasted perhaps 10 seconds. “Stacy Keach” went back in the eatery and stormed up and down for a bit, apparently ranting about the issue. In the meantime a highway patrol vehicle drove up and went through the Drive-thru window. “Stacy” comes out and struts up and down outside Burger King, ignoring me, and then after making a big show of looking around the corners of the building got back into his car, shooting me a sideways look as he closed the passenger door.

It threw the man when I was not aggressive, but matter-of-fact. I did not threaten violence, although my hand was on the pepper spray and I was ready to use it. It must have sunk through that self important brain that I was not taking pictures of any type but he still felt the need to posture and act tough.

When he was storming up and down the walk outside, I actually pulled out my spray and opened my back pack to where my old prison baton was. Had he approached too closely again, he would have been sprayed and then thumped. Luckily for him, he will soon forget the old chappy with the MikesFilmTalk.com t-shirt who almost beat the devil out of him with an old prison baton.

The next time he may not be so lucky. Whether he is someone “important” or famous or really is Stacy Keach, he needs to curb that aggression. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it can get you hurt, or even worse, it can cause someone else to be hurt. I did not say it to you chum, but I had no idea who you were, or who you even think you are. Although after our little “altercation” it is apparent that he may think he is Kanye West…

Get a grip mate.

And if that was Stacy Keach? You just lost a long time fan mate. I do not think it was Keach, the man is 74 and I just watched his performance in the teen “weepy” If I Stay. The man who almost physically accosted me, just looked like Keach but younger, like the man did around his Mike Hammer days. Even when this cat realized that no one was taking his picture, there was no apology or explanation. A real gent…not.

One last word on the subject, during his entire stay at the local eatery, his car contained a dog in the back seat. There were no windows rolled down, that I could see, and this is the desert…in summer… Yeah, a real “tool” this chap, had I realized I would have called the police for the dog.

If I Stay: Youthful Romantic Drama Has Laughter and Tears

If I Stay: Youthful Romantic Drama Has Laughter and Tears

Gayle Forman joins the ranks of Young Adult authors who have had their work adapted for film, the 2009 book If I Stay, a youthful romantic drama which has its fair share of laughter and tears has been made into a film starring Chloë Grace Moretz. The 17 year-old actress plays Mia Hall, a gifted cellist whose unconventional family are suddenly and tragically taken away from her. The teenager survives a car crash but is in a coma. The film, like the book, follows her out-of-body revelations while deciding to live or die.