Not all that long ago, there was a wave of shows about adult children who moved back in with their parents. ” 9JKL ” missed that trend, and though there’s enough family conflict baked into the premise to make it a TV perennial, the new CBS sitcom doesn’t mine the set-up all that well.
Mark Feuerstein plays Josh, an actor whose show was canceled around the same time he went through a divorce. He’s not quite living in his parents’ New York apartment – he moved into the unit next door – but his family is still closer than he’d like. His brother, Andrew (David Walton), a cocky surgeon, and his wife, Eve (Liza Lapira), live on the same floor of the building. Josh is quite literally sandwiched between his brother and his parents, which is not exactly every divorced adult’s dream.
The pilot episode depicts Josh trying to dive back into the dating pool, and of course his family blocks his progress in a series of entirely predictable ways. Much of the show’s comedy revolves around Josh’s parents, Harry (Elliott Gould) and Judy (Linda Lavin), passive-aggressively manipulating their son, or guilting him into spending time with them.
The best thing about ” 9JKL ” is its supporting cast: Matt Murray charmingly plays Nick, the friendly doorman, and Albert Tsai brings his usual sharp timing to the role of Ian, a kid who hangs out in the lobby a lot. Walton, who has been a welcome presence in a host of short-lived sitcoms, brings his usual lanky charm to the role of Andrew.
Other than that, “9JKL” is generally both bland and obvious. Just about every plot turn on “9JKL” can be seen coming, and the parents are so gratingly oblivious and interfering that it’s hard to get invested in the plight of Josh, or any other character. Josh does attempt to set boundaries, but his family continually ignores them. Presumably he knew what they were like before he left L.A. for New York, so it’s never quite credible that he’d move back into this set-up. Of course, it’d be easier to buy into the premise if the jokes were fresher, zippier and less worn-out. But like some flailing adults who move home, “9JKL” appears to lack ambition.
Comedy; 13 episodes (pilot reviewed); CBS, Mon. Oct. 2, 8:30 p.m. 30 min. Executive producers: Dana Klein, Mark Feuerstein, Aaron Kaplan, Wendi Trilling, Dana Honor, Pamela Fryman. Cast: Mark Feuerstein, David Walton, Elliott Gould, Linda Lavin, Liza Lapira, Matt Murray, Albert Tsai.