The Neighbors (2012–2014)
8/10
not quite 3rd Rock, but funny
17 November 2012
3rd Rock from the Sun is a tough act to follow. The Neighbors does a pretty good job, but uses wit and timing instead of zaniness and slapstick comedy to get its laughs. That makes it consistently funny, just not side-splittingly funny. Naming all of the aliens after sports heroes was an inspired choice-- they'll never run out of funny names (a tot named Dick Butkus?), and the fact that the aliens are dorky doubles down on the running gag. So are all their matching outfits/uniforms that remind us of golf clothes from the 1970s.

Also on the upside, some of the cast members are real gems. I don't know where Toks Olagundoye has been up til now, but she's got real movie star power as the glamorous alien mom. Her rapid fire back and forth with alien husband Simon Templeman, who has perfect comedic timing and never wastes a good line, are my favorite parts of the show. Jami Gertz and Max Charles are good enough as the earthling straight man/woman, but I think maybe too much of the plot compares their unfunny ordinariness to the aliens' backwards/upside down view of what humanity is like. The child actors are pretty good, too, even if the show relies a little too much on alien child Ian Patrick's precociousness. Clara Mamet is exceptional as the brooding, frighteningly calculating and cynical teenager.

I was worried that after a few episodes the running gags would wear thin and they'd run out of ideas. Not so at all! I've just finished the Thanksgiving episode and, if anything, it's getting better and better.
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