I did a quick-take review of the The Jim Gaffigan Show when it sneak-previewed a few weeks back. Now I’ve seen four episodes of the TV Land sitcom, and I’m prepared to say it gets better with each episode — and it’s not as though Wednesday night’s premiere isn’t very funny.
Gaffigan plays a variation on himself — food-loving stand-up comic, married with lots of kids in Manhattan. He’s not afraid to embrace the dopey-husband sitcom-type, mostly because Gaffigan knows how to revitalize that cliché, mixing his doofus-dad with sharp sarcasm. But that sarcasm is, importantly, never directed at his kids, or even much at his wife, Jeannie (played with zip by Ashley Williams), but rather aimed at comedian-pal Dave (Adam Goldberg) or Jeannie’s WASPish friend Daniel (Michael Ian Black).
Created by Gaffigan and Peter Tolan (Rescue Me) and executive produced by writers including Jeannie Gaffigan, the comedian’s wife, the Gaffigan Show takes typical family-sitcom situations — applying to a competitive Manhattan private school; going out to dinner — and gives them twists that suit Gaffigan’s persona. An upcoming episode set largely in the real-life New York steak-house Smith and Wollensky is particularly good in its food-obsessed (“Well, of course you order the hash browns, what’s the point of going if you don’t?”) way.
One reason the later episodes are even better is Williams’s character gets more screen time; her Jeannie develops very quickly into a very strong, funny presence much the equal of Gaffigan.
Comedy Central, which has had ratings success with Gaffigan’s stand-up specials, will air episodes one week after they appear on TV Land. That context will be interesting to observe: What seems like an adventurous move for TV Land could appear tame on the home of Key & Peele and Broad City. However, I think The Jim Gaffigan Show is going to play like a happy belch of semi-fresh air wherever it pops up.
The Jim Gaffigan Show airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on TV Land.