July 23, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Pilot + 1 Review: “The Jim Gaffigan Show”


THE JIM GAFFIGAN SHOW:  Wednesday 10PM on TV Land (and Nick At Nite)

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on THE JIM GAFFIGAN SHOW:  Stand-up comic Jim (Jim Gaffigan) lives with wife Jeannie (Ashley Williams) and their 5 children in a crowded NY apartment–all elements to be found in Gaffigan’s stand-up act and comic memoirs.  Her best friend is gay realtor Daniel (Michael Ian Black), his best friend is single horndog and fellow stand-up Dave (Adam Goldberg)

Episode 2:  No one can accuse The Jim Gaffigan Show of being plot-heavy.  Its second episode, written by the real-life Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan (she’s also an Executive Producer on the show) and directed by Peter Tsuchida, is almost entirely concerned with whether overweight Jim will eat red velvet cake at a birthday party he’s attending with one of his daughters.  Act 1 sets out Jeannie’s scolding Jim about his eating habits and cautioning him against the cake, Act 2 is Jim at the party, Act 3 is Jim’s confession to Jeannie regarding the cake (and a further instance of piggy eating while he was on the road in Las Vegas).  Black pops in for a minute or two to say gay-ish things, Dave accompanies Jim to the party to say horndog things as he hits on the MILF-y moms, and that’s the show.

Within its extremely low-impact boundaries, Jim Gaffigan is good-natured and efficient, and certainly well-performed, if not particularly funny.  It’s all very Larry David Lite, especially as Jim crashes another birthday party with better food, and in his Las Vegas recollection of the ethics of eating french fries that another diner (played by famed comedy writer/performer Robert Smigel) appears to have abandoned.  Just two episodes in, though, the show is already relying on familiar types all too much–the wife who knows everything about her dim hubby and is always looking out for their best interests, the pals who don’t venture out of their given tropes.  Despite the single-camera visuals, there’s very little that appears to have ambitions toward adding a fresh voice to the old-time format.

The Jim Gaffigan Show had a fair albeit unexciting start in the ratings (as with Younger earlier this year, TV Land is simulcasting Gaffigan and its lead-out Impastor on Nick At Nite for the initial runs, so the shows get the benefit of two networks’ audiences), and fans of TV Land’s vintage sitcoms may find themselves willing to snuggle with its retro charms.  Like Jim’s favorite cuisine, it’s undemanding comfort food.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  If Nothing Else Is On…

PILOT + 1:  You May Be Hard-Pressed To Tell The Original Episodes From the Reruns


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."