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Denette Wilford

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Family Tools Needs Some Retooling

Posted: 04/29/2013 11:20 am

family tools

Confession time (I do a lot of that here, don't I?): I have a bit of a crush on Kyle Bornheimer. He's cute, funny, talented and plays the part of the goofball really, really well. But most of all, he's an underdog --and who doesn't love an underdog? Bornheimer was the best part of CBS's Worst Week and ABC's Romantically Challenged, but I've come to the conclusion that only NBC knows what to do with Bornheimer because it was his run on the hilarious, underrated comedy Perfect Couples that cinched it (or should I say him?) for me. Honestly, I was done for. (And I was in sitcom heaven when he reunited with his Perfect Couples co-star David Walton on the equally funny and mistreated Bent, but that's a whole other lovefest.)

I had high hopes for Bornheimer's latest offering, Family Tools, where he plays Jack Shea who, naturally, is as sweet and dopey as they come. The directionless Jack has a less-than-stellar work history (he's just been kicked out of seminary school), but he returns home so he can run the family repair business after his grumpy dad, Tony (J.K. Simmons, Oz, The Closer) has a heart attack. They're joined by Jack's wacky aunt (and Tony's sister-in-law) Terry (Leah Remini, The King of Queens) and her weirdo son Mason (Johnny Pemberton, Megadrive). Edi Gathergi (Twilight, House) and Danielle Nicolet (The Starter Wife) round out the cast as siblings Darren and Stitch, who work for Mr. Jiffy Fix and the local hardware store, respectively. Sounds all right, right? Er, not quite.

Family Tools' main problem is that it isn't super-original (doofus son takes over family business, has to deal with his quirky relatives and clients, tries -- and fails -- to prove he's not a total loser). Actually, scratch that. Its biggest issue is that it seems like it was put together in a blind frenzy. The series has 10 episodes to prove itself and if it wasn't smashed into a ridiculous May (!) premiere, I'd figure ABC would pull it after airing two episodes. But Family Tools might have a chance since it's sandwiched between The Middle and Modern Family. And, hey, if The Neighbors can cut it...

I admit, I guffawed when Jack and Darren were fighting about feet (yes, it's as infantile as it sounds but I was slightly relieved to be able to laugh once) and if there were more scenes like Jack's encounter with a bitchy neighbour (gleefully played by Adam Arkin), I'd be on board. Sadly, it's more meh than anything else and I'm not even sure if the writers knew what parts were supposed to be funny -- not that it mattered since they failed. And I loved Remini on King of Queens but she's wasted here in a throwaway role, and because I saw signs of Kevin James in her delivery, it only reminded me how funny a comedy can actually be -- and how unfunny Family Tools is.

Here's what ABC should've done: saved Happy Endings and a retooled (sorry) Family Tools for the summer. I know, I know, that sounds ridiculous, but so is shoving Happy Endings on Friday nights. Family Tools needs a visit from Mr. Jiffy Fix so it could've used a little more time to find itself. It's not the cast, because most of them are doing the best with what they've been given. Rather, it's the writing that could use a bit of an overhaul. If it just had more time to be rejigged, Kyle Bornheimer's latest series might've stood a chance. Instead, it looks like the actor will be looking for yet another job to showcase his talents. Get ready to snap him up, NBC.

Family Tools premieres Wednesday, May 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET on CTV Two in Canada and ABC.

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