SEPTEMBER 28, 2011
This is the sleeper comedy of the fall 2011 season. The style is reflective of THE MIDDLE, but this one is from the kid's point of view. The cast of characters are all family based with each having its own dynamic. There are no characters that stand out with personality; like the Heck family they are each a bit more subtle. It will not take more than one episode to get the audience hooked, and the time slot following THE MIDDLE could not have been a better scheduling move.
Tessa Altman (Jane Levy) lives with her dad, George Altman (Jeremy Sisto). George finds condoms in a box in his daughters room and knows that it's time to get her out of the big city of New York and onto more wholesome ground. They quickly find themselves out of their comfort zone and into the fire of SUBURGATORY.
The father/daughter chemistry is right on target; the writers are putting a great effort to direct their dialogue to this strength. Dallas Royce (Cheryl Hines) is the controlling force in the neighborhood where the Altmans have relocated. She runs every organization in town including the PTA while also involved in every charity including the Altmans. When challenged as the best she will not go down without a fight, but don't rumple her ever perfect wardrobe. She probably has never been through a drive-thru to purchase a daily even weekly less than perfect nutritionally lacking meal.
Dalia Royce (Carly Chaikin) is the daughter of Dallas and represents her family line of uppity women who believe everyone is lesser of the human race. She is the leader of a pack of rich girls who bond together in school socialite clubs. Following in her mother's footsteps, she never leaves the house without being in full make-up and wardrobe perfection. When Tess begins her days at Dalia's school, the two come from different worlds and often clash.
Sheila Shay (Ana Gasteyer) is the neighbor from suburgatory hell. She needs to lead every club and run every function for her daughter, Lisa (Allie Grant), from school to neighborhood gatherings. She keeps the neighborhood in mass beautification. All the neighbors look up to her and she will make sure they do not stray from the high standard that she has set. She can almost always be found in her yard but does she really do all that work herself, she is most likely just monitoring the goings on. Fred Shay (Chris Parnell) is her husband who, like most in this family dynamic, is at work most of the time and gives his wife full rein to run the house as she pleases. She makes sure everyone knows how great a parent she is but would her daughter say the same thing?
Lisa is the shy girl at school whose mother is overbearing making it even harder for her daughter to grow up and out from under her mother's control. Tess, unlike everyone else at school, does not look down on Lisa but sometimes gets revenge on her behalf in a very quiet manner. Lisa, however, has a devious side that is circumspect to the point that no one would believe she could be involved. Often she directs her acts of getting attention towards her mother who acts at times as if Lisa is invisible.
The remaining cast; Noah Werner (Alan Tudyk), Mr. Wolf (Rex Lee), Ryan Shay (Parker Young), Kimantha (Abbie Cobb), Kenzie (Kara Pacitto), Malik (Maestro Harrell) each add a flavor to each episode. Great casting but it would have been better if it was performed live in front of a studio audience. Since it contains an even number of child actors to adults the balance would work at a bit higher level. The show is well directed given the old fashioned recently revived one camera half hour sitcom. The show should only get better as every episode is released.
Jane Levy is a find for Suburgatory and she will easily carry the show into another season. If ABC moves the show out of its present time slot without taking THE MIDDLE it may lose its fan following.