The Real O’Neals: ABC Quirky Fun (March 2016)

The Real O’Neals, which premieres in March 2016 on ABC looks to be quirky fun and may actually ruffle a few feathers with more “traditionalist” viewers. The series looks at the O’Neals, family run by matriarch, and super church participant Eileen O’Neal (Martha Plimpton).

MARTHA PLIMPTON, JAY R. FERGUSON, NOAH GALVIN, MATT SHIVELY, BEBE WOOD

The Real O’Neals, which premieres in March 2016 on ABC looks to be quirky fun and may actually ruffle a few feathers with more “traditionalist” viewers.  The series looks at the O’Neals, a family run by matriarch and super church participant Eileen O’Neal (Martha Plimpton). The O’Neals are an immaculately turned out family, who do everything that mother tells them to.

Everything goes swimmingly until middle son Kenny (Noah Galvin) decides to “come out” and reveal to his family, and girl friend, that he is gay. His act of truth uncovers the facade that has represented the upstanding Irish Catholic family for years. Kenny’s revelation causes cracks to appear and the “real” O’Neals are spotlighted in the community, the church and in front of themselves.

One can be forgiven for thinking that this new comedy is a thinly disguised “After School Special” or some quasi religious promotional.  These misconceptions will disappear in literally just under two minutes after the pilot begins.  The opening scene takes place in an eatery.

In the restaurant  other families are misbehaving, the O’Neals however are all acting properly with  mother Eileen ruling the ship and ordering for everyone.  Kenny, who provides the voice-over narration, tells of “mom’s” adage that each family member should act as though “Jesus” is there watching them.

The first gag of the pilot appears; Jesus is sitting next to Kenny:

Kenny:  “What you going to get?”

Jesus: “I’ll let your mom order for me too, but then change it to whatever I want…”

All of the jokes in the first two episodes of The Real O’Neals are of this calibre, surprising, irreverent and oh so funny.  There is at least one other “surprise” guest on the second episode, but that will remain a secret for now to keep ABC from sending goons round to punish us for spoilers…

Of course the main thing going for the new series, besides a deliciously wicked sense of humor, is that once that “gay” dam is opened, all sorts of things come tumbling out. The “good” family are replaced with the “real” one, full of dysfunctional truths that were hidden until Kenny dared to tell his reality.

There are funny moments throughout the show’s first two episodes. Eileen urging Kenny to try girlfriend Mimi’s (played brilliantly by Hannah Marks) “papaya” and there is yet another, similar to Uncle Buck, reference to Selena Gomez… 

The Real O’Neals proves that it only takes one crack (in this instance it is Kenny’s revelation that he is gay) to bring down the entire false front that makes up the family O’Neals squeaky clean image.  The show’s comedy comes from this underlying truth and Eileen’s handling of it.

Mom reacts with Lists, plans and, in Kenny’s circumstance, outright denial.  Plimpton handles her beleaguered church mom well and her comedic skills are perfect for the role of former “Supermom.” Newcomer Galvin works well in the role of middle son Kenny who finally realizes that he needs to tell his family the truth about his sexuality.

The show is funny; it delivers chuckles, guffaws and giggles on a regular basis with no sign of a laugh track or studio audience anywhere.  The writing is clever, witty and irreverent.  The subject matter may offend a few, after all there are those who do not find poking fun at these everyday realities funny at all.

However, for those with a healthy sense of humor and an appreciation for great comic writing, this show will be a delight. There are some things that annoy, the daughter played by Bebe Wood has been made to resemble Abigail Breslin, which is a distraction. That said, the actress does well in her role as the youngest O’Neal.

Once Kenny comes out, each family member discloses a truth that shocks Eileen to the core. Anorexia, felonious intent and  a man who cannot plan to save his life all through “mom” for  a loop.  Kenny’s issue will, obviously, be a long running comedic point, to a degree, but it appears that the family’s “real” lives will provide the laughs for the series as well.

The Real O’Neals will premiere March 2016 on ABC. Tune in and prepare to laugh and to enjoy the lives of Kenny and his family. This show could almost be the “Malcolm in the Middle” for a new generation  just without the “genius” quotient or the low income level. Good fun.

 

 

Tis the Season: To Watch Screeners

In the run up to Christmas, a load of “film” screeners were received in the post. With the awards season rapidly approaching studios wanted their children to be seen and voted upon.

MARTHA PLIMPTON, JAY R. FERGUSON, NOAH GALVIN, MATT SHIVELY, BEBE WOOD
THE REAL O’NEALS ABC 2016

In the run up to Christmas, a load of “film” screeners were received in the post. With the awards season rapidly approaching studios wanted their children to be seen and voted upon. Now with the Yuletide actually come and gone, television is taking its own hiatus from regular programming.

Despite having access to a number of advance screeners via ABC, one of the few networks who allow easy access to screeners, unlike others who want the coverage but do not allow early screening,  this is the time of year where entertainment takes a “backseat” in terms of programming.

Seasonal films and specials dominate the airways and even reality TV, something that is not watched nor written about on this site, takes a break.  Ergo regular programming is left by the wayside replaced with festive folderol aimed at the great unwashed and uneducated masses.

Granted not all the seasonal shows on offer are pap and rubbish, there are the specials aimed at the youngster in all of us. For example anything Charlie Brown, or those splendid stop motions Christmas specials; re: Rudolph and so on… It goes without saying that all country music or other musical  Christmas shows were ignored.

Over the next few days, it will be necessary to review the last of the films from the studios and to have a look at more ABC offerings, such as the splendid looking American Crime; second season, and the odd new program. Other new shows would have been looked at in depth if only the networks wanted to allow early viewing…

As pointed out in an earlier article, nothing from CBS or CW will be reviewed except in the most minimal way possible.  Both these networks turned up their  noses at the “small” size of my site and refused access to photos and other press materials.   Hence no regular reviews of Supergirl, Arrow or The Flash apart from the amalgamated reviews of the latter two shows. (Not any  series from these two snobs will be covered…)

New shows coming up in 2016 on ABC  are: The Family; a drama and Uncle Buck (which has already been reviewed) and another comedic offering, The Real O’Neals.  Other programs returning for another season are Secrets and Lies, Galavant (reviewed already…twice) and the earlier mentioned American Crime, which MikesFilmTalk will be looking at further, since several episodes have been posted for viewing.

On ABC Freeform, ‘nee Family, The Fosters are returning for their fourth season and also have a screener on offer.

Television aside, there are a few more films to be discussed, Listen to Me Marlon, Song of Lahore, Meru, What Happened Miss Simone?, Winter on Fire, Shaun the Sheep and The Armor of Light (Abigail Disney’s directorial debut)All but one are documentaries and some are more interesting than others. All have something to offer, even the films which can only be described as a “hard slog.”

Tis also the time of year to look over the odd  Netflix series or two. Jessica Jones, the Marvel “noir-ish” heroine, who could also be seen as a sort of superhero escapee from Frank Miller’s Sin City, is on offer right now. Apart from offering a splendid villain in the guise of David Tennant, who seems to be channeling his inner “grumpy”  from Broadchurch (Gracepoint) to good effect, this dark Marvel offering is entertaining and addictive.

Other projects, such as short films, will be addressed in this “slow” period as well. Stay tuned for more reviews and previews of upcoming attractions and returning favorites, in the meantime, “tis the season for screeners.”

 

Uncle Buck: ABC Lets Mike Epps be a “Manny”

In 1989 John Candy and Macaulay Culkin teamed up, a little, for the John Hughes comedy Uncle Buck. Now ABC have opted to let Mike Epps become a small screen “manny” as the new version of Candy’s oddball uncle for the new millennium.

MIKE EPPS, AALYRAH CALDWELL, SAYEED SHAHIDI

In 1989 John Candy and Macaulay Culkin teamed up, a little, for the John Hughes comedy Uncle Buck.  Now ABC have opted to let Mike Epps become a small screen “manny” as the new version of Candy’s oddball uncle for the new millennium.  The pilot, which will premiere in 2016, basically crams most of the Hughes film’s plot into the 22 minute run time. 

Fans of Epps will enjoy his take on this tale of  the bachelor older brother who steps in to help look after his troublesome kids. Uncle Buck has an impressive cast list. Nia Long, plays the mother Cindy Russell and Long has a “long” career playing a multitude of different roles.  The actress played love interest to Will Smith’s “Fresh Prince” way back in 1995 after getting her start on daytime soap The Guiding Light, a few short years previously.

James Lesure plays husband to Cindy and father to Tia (Iman Benson), Maizy (Aalyrah Caldwell) and Miles (Sayeed Shahidi), Will Russell is the voice of “reason” in this family where the  professional parents are struggling to cope with looking after their kids.  Lesure is another long term actor with a varied career. 

After wife Cindy claims that Tia is turning into a “black Amanda Bynes” Will responds that his wife is exaggerating:

“Come on, she’s barely black Selena Gomez…”

 

The dialogue in the pilot is clever, topical and funny.  While the pilot, and the show, is obviously a vehicle for Epps, each player in the series looks to bring something to the ensemble table.   There are some good gags in the pilot:  Spanks, “No more CNN for you,” and other jokes that are chuckle worthy.

The move to change the characters from the late Hughes’  cult favorite comedy to a different ethnicity appears to be motivated mainly to allow Mike Epps to step into the late Candy’s shoes. There are jokes that hinge around the characters ethnicity.  At one point, Will states that they need to find more “black friends” after learning that their non-black ones are out on a  “juice cleanse.”

Since the new Uncle Buck series is part of “ABC Black” this seems to be an alternative offering to Anthony Anderson’s “black-ish” another ethnically focussed ABC comedy.  While this may be the case, the show has more in common with Dr Ken, a show about a Korean doctor whose family is made up of Korean and Japanese ethnicity.

Like the Ken Jeong comedy offering, Uncle Buck and Mike Epps are presenting a show where the ethnic “color” is less important than the fact that the couple Will and Cindy, are two highly successful professionals who need help looking after their children.   Uncle Buck would be funny regardless of the ethnicity involved.

Mike Epps may not have been the best fit for an Uncle Buck replacement, but the performer has a delivery and style that accentuates the character he is portraying. Comedically Epps is good and the pilot allows the comic to do what he does best.

The child actors all do pretty well, newcomer Iman is especially impressive, and if the quality of the jokes are maintained this ABC comedic offering should continue to amuse.  Now that the source film’s plot has been used up for the pilot, it will be investing to see where the series heads next.

Mike Epps

Uncle Buck airs in 2016 on ABC, tune in and see if Mike Epps is a good replacement for John Candy’s version of the bachelor uncle who wins over his brother’s kids.