Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: Sullivan & Son

Steve Byrne Comedy May Be Finding Its Groove

For most of its first season, there was something kinda off about Sullivan & Son, the Steve Byrne sitcom that has its second season debut tonight at 10pm. It was funny, but it also wasn't funny - sometimes at the same time. The show's problem becomes clear tonight - in a good way because it seems Steve and TBS are working on fixing it.

The problem is there are way too many characters. The show, executive produced by Vince Vaughn, Peter Billingsley and Cheers' Rob Long, is a modern-day Cheers with a requisite multi-ethnic cast. In the show, Steve is Steve Sullivan, son of a bar owner who had headed to New York City to be a lawyer. Disillusioned, he heads home to Pittsburgh to work the family bar.

It's a decent premise. But where Steve should be forging relationships with his sweet dad (Dan Lauria) and a few friends, he's surrounded by too many characters who each try to squeeze in some funny lines. The effect last season was that it was hard to connect with Steve or any of the other characters - like Christine Ebersol's entirely too-creepy vixen (eeks).

Tonight, with The Hangover's Ken Jeong guesting as a workaholic doctor lured to the bar's pizza and beer, a lot of the show's secondary characters are silently - and awkwardly - smiling in the background. They have virtually nothing to say. It's a bit weird, but it may also be a good sign.

The show is funny and Steve Byrne is likable. Perhaps if there weren't a half-dozen or more characters vying for the spotlight we could get to know Steve. And maybe the show would ease into itself, letting its funny lines and straightforward storyline shine.

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