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The Neighbors: Somewhere Out There

by Rachel Stein September 27, 2012 6:30 am
<I>The Neighbors</i>: Somewhere Out There

Had ABC's new comedy pilot The Neighbors been really interesting, sweet, funny or even cute, I'd start comparing it to, say, 3rd Rock from the Sun, ALF, Aliens in the Family (other people watched that show, right?) or any of the many other network sitcoms about extraterrestrial beings hanging around Earth, but instead... it was mostly just kind of boring.

Starring Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito as Debbie and Marty Weaver, the sitcom revolves around a normal (for New Jersey, anyway) family who just moved into a small gated community that -- and stop me if you heard this one before -- is populated by residents who are actually aliens, whose leaders (played by Simon Templeman and Toks Olagundoye) are two perfectly nice if not pretty weird space-folk. There's some hoopla about them not being able to get back to their planet and their gang being stuck on Earth for the past ten years without any contact from home, but even just writing the basic details of the premise sucks all of the life out of it.

Honestly, this show could be a lot worse. I'm not really sure how (maybe if they didn't reveal what the aliens really looked like?), but I didn't immediately want to tear it apart after watching the first episode (though I can't imagine ever watching a second one). It's just that, aside from the weird gags about the actual aliens, there's really nothing remotely interesting about this show, which is usually the case when you've got a 30-minute show with a crazy premise.

From the looks of it, The Neighbors is just trying to build a completely standard family sitcom, only going so far as to make the protagonists' friends alien. That's literally the only juxtaposition. No commentary. No reflection on the human condition. Really, just a live-action version of The Cleveland Show, Family Guy or American Dad, where an unlikely creature hangs out with humans but gets to act weird sometimes... except the humans aren't really even entertaining in this one. Whatever, I guess naming yourself after random popular American athletes and having pet llamas is enough now.

But if you really like quirky aliens and the aforementioned llamas, The Neighbors isn't outwardly offensive to the senses... kind of like when you're watching something on Disney Channel with your kid. Why do those aliens all wear the same outfits? What is up with the alien mom throwing all of her plates out of the window instead of washing them? Who's cleaning that up? And gosh, I guess women are huge nags no matter what planet you're on! Am I right? Anyone?

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