5 Questions And 500 Words: “The Millers”

Welcome to another installment of “5 Questions and 500 Words,” my approach this year to reviewing the sundry pilots that will be unspooling over the course of the next few weeks. Given the glut of shows, and the glut of reviews that will be published for these shows, I’m keeping things short and sweet. This is for your convenience and my sanity.

The Millers, premieres October 3 at 8:30 pm EST on CBS


Will there be any moment in watching this pilot that I will not actively be wishing I were watching the second season of “Justified” instead?

Unless you thought that second season would only have been made more perfect had Ma Bennett suffered from intense flatulence and discussed it freely with Raylan Givens, no.

I’m pretty sure the commercials for this feature a mother/son sexy dance. Did I really see that or have the drugs kicked in?

Oh, your eyes sadly did not deceive you. That’s the centerpiece of a pilot that features a host of solid actors (Will Arnett, Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges, J.B. Smoove) deliver unfunny lines through their teeth while they stare offscreen at the truckful of money CBS promised them in order to be Greg Garcia’s onscreen puppets. Everything about this show reeks of, “Look, I’ve done good work in the past, and nobody watched, so eff it, I want a yacht. Where do I sign up?”

Is this the worst comedy of the Fall?

Somehow, not remotely! “The Millers” isn’t as offensive as “Dads” nor as tonedeaf as “We Are Men” nor as shrill as “Sean Saves The World”. It’s not timeless so much as out-of-time: had you aired this in between “The Golden Girls” and “Empty Nest”, no one would have batted an eyelash. It’s hermetically sealed off from the world, which may be the point: It’s all about keeping as many people tuned in between “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Crazy Ones”. All it has to do is exist. It’s a test pattern featuring The Artist Formerly Known As Job Bluth. It simply has to present nothing overtly outrageous or entertaining in the thirty minutes allotted for it.

Except farting?

Except farting. That’s a given. But everyone loves to see Martindale talk about dropping silent but deadlies, no?

Is there any hope for the show?

If I tuned into this show’s 12th episode and discovered it had not only removed the fart jokes but found ways to make its core cast decently engaging, I wouldn’t blink an eye. The talent onscreen is obvious, and co-creator Greg Garcia has a way of taking seemingly stale, two-dimensional caricatures and turning them into actual human beings after some time. But just because this show may emerge stronger after some growing pains means I have any desire to watch that metamorphosis in real time. If you want to see Bridges and Martindale in something good on TV this week, go check out the “Masters Of Sex” pilot. They are great there. Hopefully, they will be great in “The Millers” down the line.