Kevin James' last show, The King of Queens, was a solid, respectable performer for a long time. It ran for nine seasons from 1998 to 2007 on CBS. It was never the funniest or highest-rated show, but it was never bad. It was a hard-working, reliable show. If it were a basketball player, it would be Michael Finley.
James' new series Kevin Can Wait is more of the same. Kevin James is back, a little older, a little richer, but essentially doing the same thing he did on The King of Queens. He plays Kevin Gable, who just retired from the NYPD and is looking forward to a life of leisure supported by his pension, rental income from the garage he's going to rent out, and his wife Donna (Erinn Hayes). But then his daughter Kendra (Taylor Spreitler) announces that she's dropping out of college and moving back home to help support her boyfriend Chale (Ryan Cartwright) as he works on building an app, and Kevin realizes that his plans are about to go astray and family life is harder than any case he ever worked.
It's a very familiar-feeling show — James himself compares it to a comfortable old shoe in the video above. It's a standard three-camera family sitcom filmed in front of a studio audience. James' character has three kids and a naggy, much hotter wife. He's a bumbling, immature dad archetype. James has been doing this character for almost 20 years, and he's got it down to a science. Erinn Hayes also makes a thankless role somewhat lively with her effervescent personality.
Kevin Can Wait isn't very good, but it's not that bad, either. It's unambitious, but it's competent and amiable. It's not trying to be anything it's not. It does what it's supposed to do — provide a few laughs and give Americans a new family they're comfortable inviting into their homes every week. Not every sitcom can be Transparent, and not every sitcom should be. In this Peak TV landscape, there's room for the forward-looking and the traditional. If you like this kind of show, Kevin Can Wait won't disappoint. It'll give you the feeling of meeting someone new who reminds you of an old friend.
Kevin Can Wait premieres Monday, Sept. 19 at 8:30/7:30c on CBS.
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