CBS’s new comedy Worst Week is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. It’s pretty much exactly the show that would run promos with its lead in a giant diaper made from a garbage bag. It asks veterans Kurtwood Smith and Nancy Lenehan to do pretty much exactly what they’re known for doing. It puts the female lead pretty much where you’d expect it to–over in a corner while her funny boyfriend gets to do all the pratfalls.
And yet…this farce about an everyguy trying to impress his would-be in-laws and getting unluckier by the minute isn’t terrible. While Smith and Lenehan are asked to do the same old, they’re really good at it. Lead Kyle Bornheimer is charming and believable, even as his circumstances become increasingly ridiculous. The show is well-staged, a key to any farce (for some reason, Smith draped artfully over an airbag is one of the funnier moments of the pilot). Even its predictability–Smith collapses in front of an funeral home; could wacky misunderstandings ensue?–is comforting because it’s predictable. Compared to a couple of other grievously bad sitcoms to debut this fall, Worst Week is that old-fashioned, middle-of-the road comedy that used to make up a big chunk of America’s TV viewing–undemanding and disposable chuckles.
We wonder how long it will stay that way, however, as it’s difficult to imagine the show being able to maintain its pace. The show is based (like nearly every other new show this year) on a British series that featured seven episodes representing the last seven days before the leads’ wedding (a later season had seven episodes leading up to the birth of the couple’s first child). Worst Week might be the best example yet of why it’s not easy to translate British shows for US TV–presumably, the makers of the new version would like to see the show be successful enough to, oh, hit syndication, which will take substantially more than seven episodes. The pilot had hapless hero Sam convincing everyone his girlfriend’s father was dead, crashing a car into said father, peeing on a brining goose, setting a rare and expensive gift on fire, and showing up wearing a giant diaper. Where will they be by just the end of this season?