Essentially, creator Dan Berendsen has the premise of 3 Men and a Baby
(1987), except the men aren't men here but more like the Judd Apatow
type of man-boys suffering from arrested development, but, in the wake
of FOX's Raising Hope and tons of TV shows and movies that have
used the comedy of a guy or guys collectively, either not wanting or
stupidly not knowing how to care for a baby, this show's pilot is simply
tedious as well as its second. By the third, the issue of these young
men having to deal with suddenly having a baby is all but abandoned or
ignored, which is both good and bad in the search of a coherent and
thoroughly entertaining series.
ABC Family is the cable network that really pushes as its slogan, "A new kind of family." You hear that and you think that maybe it's a reference to families that aren't traditional or that aren't the nuclear families of yesteryear, which were seen as the ideal, but, instead something like gay families. It might also reference families of cultures that don't get much play on mainstream TV like Asian or Hispanic families.
Jean-Luc Bilodeau co-starred in the ABC Family sci-fi series Kyle XY, which incorporated comic book elements into a Dawson's Creek-like teen angst story that in many ways was better than the way Smallville did it. Bilodeau played a skinny, yet smooth, smart aleck of a kid. Here, he stars as Ben Wheeler, a twenty-something living in Manhattan who could very well be the same character with a different name. Ben works as a bartender and lives in an apartment shared with his best friend, Tucker, played by Tahj Mowry (Single Guy) who's exact profession wasn't made clear in the first three episodes, and his pro-hockey player brother Danny, played by Derek Theler.
Ben welcomes Danny who was recently traded to the New York Rangers. A minute later, Ben finds a baby girl left on his door step and a note from Angela, the baby's mother, saying that the baby is Ben's. Strangely, the character of Angela is never shown. It's the same as in 3 Men and a Baby at first. If the series plays out like the movie, then Angela might show up in the finale to take the baby back or something, but it makes Ben's arc a bit predictable.
It makes a lot of the hilarity like the guys being repulsed at changing diapers or the baby cramping their bachelorhood a bit predictable too. None of that matters in these multi-camera sitcoms though. Often, what does matter is the level of joke writing, the chemistry and comic-timing of the actors. The level of joke-writing is moderate to low if you compare it to something like Two and a Half Men, which has more one-liners and gags per minute than this. The comic-timing is on par with the writing and the chemistry of the actors is tenuous.
I barely believed that Ben and Danny are brothers. There is a love triangle that's being drawn out and danced around that I also barely believed. If you hold it up against even another new ABC Family sitcom like Melissa & Joey, it's dull how little chemistry the characters here have. Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence have chemistry to spare. Both also have a rhythm and energy that this series so far lacks.
That being said, Bilodeau proved with Kyle XY that if he's given good material, he can be a valuable asset. He's sweet, charming and definitely funny. This show at least gives an opportunity for him to show off his talents, which include juggling liquor bottles. I would really love to see him tested on Saturday Night Live, just to be sure but he could be a comedic star in the not so distant future.
Two Stars out of Five.
Running Time: 30 mins.
Wednesdays at 8:30PM on ABC Family.
Available via Hulu.com.