You’ve see the promos. Three thirty-something men carrying babies on their stomachs doing all kinds of manly activities, like watching sports and hanging out at a bar (watching sports). From the mind of Jimmy Fallon, along with Amy Ozols and Charlie Grandy, comes Guys with Kids, a traditional sitcom starring TV vets Anthony Anderson (Law & Order), Jamie-Lynn Bledsoe (The Sopranos) and Tempestt Bledsoe (The Cosby Show). It also features Zach Cregger from the comedy troupe The Whitest Kids You Know.
In Guys with Kids, three dudes, Gary (Anderson), Nick (Cregger) and Chris (Jesse Bradford), are all dads who live in the same apartment building and hang out on a regular basis. Gary is a stay at home pop who takes care of his four young ones (including twins), while his other two buddies are working fathers. Nick is happily married with a baby and a daughter who’s somewhere between 6 and 8 (his wife is played by Sigler) and Chris is divorced with a baby. His ex is the ball busting Sheila (Children’s Hospital’s Errin Hayes). The pilot focuses on Chris growing a backbone and standing up to Sheila so that he can hire a babysitter and go on a date. But instead of actually standing up to her, he lies about the babysitter and sneaks out. When the babysitter cancels, Nick offers to take over, which ruins his wife’s plans for a night out. The end of the episode feature Chris finally confronting Sheila about her demanding personality and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
It’d be nice to say that Guys with Kids is ripe with originality. Unfortunately, I can’t. It’s better than Whitney, I can say that much, but the jokes are thin and the cast, although likable, struggle to find laughs. However, there were some bright spots. First and foremost, Anderson and Bledsoe are great together. It’s easy to forget that Bledsoe is such a talented comedy actress because The Cosby Show was so long ago and she was just a kid back in the day. The best scenes in the pilot featured these two and if the sitcom was based on them, I’d probably watch it on a regular basis. Alas, the show is called Guys with Kids, so the wives will most likely be supporting players. Another bright spot was Cregger. Loose and energetic, he lifts the unusually stiff Stigler in their scenes. the series has an amiable charm that could make it a decent family sitcom, sort of like Friends with kids.
For some reason this series, with its laugh enhanced studio audience (oh, don’t try to fool me by saying all of the laughter was authentic) is paired with a single camera comedy, Animal Practice, when it is better suited with Whitney because they’re both traditional sitcoms. The show will have a tough time claiming viewers when it goes up against ABC’s juggernaut Wednesday night comedy block. However, because of NBC’s long standing relationship with Jimmy Fallon, I have a feeling the show will stick around at least for 13 episodes. After that, who knows? If it gets funnier, finds an audience or winds up on a night when it has no comedy competition, maybe Guys with Kids will perform well enough to justify a full pickup. But I think this one faces a tough road ahead.