Monday’s series premiere introduced us to Kevin Gable (James), a newly retired cop, a caring husband to school nurse Donna (former Childrens Hospital doc Erinn Hayes) and a father to three kids, including the blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em Jack (James DiGiacomo) and Sara (Mary Charles-Jones). Unfortunately, Kevin’s dreams of a carefree retirement are jeopardized when eldest daughter Kendra (Melissa & Joey‘s Taylor Spreitler) announces she’s engaged. Even worse, she intends to drop out of her prelaw program to support app-developer fiancé Chale (Mom‘s Ryan Cartwright).
The premise of James’ latest laugher borrows heavily from KoQ, which found a thirtysomething deliveryman reluctantly allowing his father-in-law to move in and take over his media room. This time around, he’s a fortysomething cop whose plans to retire are disrupted when his daughter and her significant other move into the garage apartment he was going to rent out for income. Now he’ll have to resort to taking side jobs (like guarding a nearby auto mall without somehow morphing into Paul Blart: Mall Cop) to subsidize his off-duty plans, which include riding go-karts and shooting paintball with his fellow retirees (including The Neighbors‘ Lenny Venito) and his brother Kyle (portrayed by James’ real-life bro and former KoQ co-star Gary Valentine).
Episode 1 has its moments, such as a cold open featuring Kevin and Donna bonding over a Gyro Bowl, but it ultimately doesn’t get going until Kevin meets Chale at his retirement party. Left practically speechless by his soon-to-be son-in-law’s nebbish persona, Kevin and Donna are determined to make sure Kendra doesn’t let her “borefest” of a beau jeopardize her dreams of becoming a lawyer, and thus agree to let them take the apartment as long as she stays in school.
Kevin Can Wait should have no trouble mining humor from the odd-couple dynamic destined to form between Kevin and Chale, but it would first be wise to make Chale someone we can laugh with, and not just an archetype to laugh at. Cartwright is the ensemble’s early standout, but the “nerd” schtick promises to get old quick if the character isn’t fleshed out and the audience isn’t given a chance to see why Kendra would have fallen for Chale in the first place.
Have at it, folks: What did you think of Kevin Can Wait? Is there potential for James’ latest sitcom to improve, or is it a complete creative bust? Grade its debut via our poll, then voice your opinion below.
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