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NBC's Welcome to the Family hurdles the halfway decent bar


The fractious parents & young lovebirds of Welcome to the Family. NBC photo

Premiering: Thursday, Oct. 3rd at 7:30 p.m. (central) on NBC
Starring:Mary McCormack, Richard Chavira, Mike O’Malley, Justina Machado, EllaRae Peck, Joseph Haro, Fabrizio Zacharee Guido
Produced by: Mike Sikowitz, Jamie Tarses

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Here comes another one, new sitcom No. 12 of the fall season (and 13 if you count HBO’s Hello Ladies)

There’s not a potential classic in the bunch. But it’s better to be halfway decent than a full-blown stinker. And that’s pretty much where NBC’s Welcome to the Family comes in.

Premiering Thursday between Parks and Recreation and the new Michael J. Fox Show, it’s another battle among parental units and their kids. Only this one has an ethnic flavor, with the Yoders and the Hernandezes at odds over the sudden revelation that their high school graduates’ college plans have been waylaid by an unplanned pregnancy.

Dan and Karina Yoder (Mike O’Malley, Mary McCormack) are yearning to get their none-too-bright daughter, Molly (Ella Rae Peck), out of the house and off to Arizona State University, which apparently will accept anyone. That way they can have sex again while he also takes a shot at getting back into shape.

Miguel and Lisette Hernandez (Richard Chavira, Justina Machado) are very proud of their high school valedictorian son Junior (Joseph Haro), whose next destination is supposed to be Stanford. But his graduation speech to the East Central High School student body is interrupted by girlfriend Molly’s “I’m pregnant” text. It kind of floors him, but Junior is a kid who takes the high road. A marriage proposal ensues after some heavy-duty flareups between the two families.

Before learning of his daughter’s condition -- let alone that she’s been dating Junior -- Dan tries to redeem a free lesson coupon at a boxing gym that just happens to be run by Miguel. They fail to hit it off, with Miguel immediately grousing at Dan for bringing coffee in violation of the place’s no food or drink rule. Besides that, he’s tired of wasting his time on “entitled posers who think it’d be cool to box.” So Dan is tossed out. And boy, what a surprise for them when they learn about the blended family they’re facing. One, two, three -- seethe.

McCormack, who most recently starred in the USA network’s In Plain Sight, is especially good as Dan’s mostly supportive wife. Machado (Six Feet Under) likewise is a stabilizing force while the two men trade verbal jabs.

The opening episode ends with a bit of parental bonding at Junior’s and Molly’s favorite hangout, the Santa Monica Pier. Then a twist in the final scene further complicates the Yoders’ best laid empty nester plans.

Welcome to the Family is a passable half-hour that fends for itself without a laugh track and manages to deliver a few un-goosed grins. As with CBS’ new The Millers, with which it will compete, there’s ample room for story growth and further family dynamics.

Unlike The Millers, though, Welcome to the Family will not get a lead-in from CBS’ still super-potent The Big Bang Theory. That’s a big disadvantage. Welcome to the real world.


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