September 29, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “The Cool Kids”


THE COOL KIDS:  Friday 8:30PM on FOX

One takeaway from FOX’s terrible new sitcom THE COOL KIDS is that Martin Mull is in a particularly ruinous rut.  Four years ago, he co-starred in FOX’s awful Dads, a quickly canceled clunker about naughty oldsters.  Now here he is back again in Cool Kids, which moves a similar concept from the homes of the protagonists’ sons to a retirement community, with no net increase in laughs.

Dads hailed from Seth MacFarlane’s production company, and The Cool Kids is co-created by Charlie Day (with Paul Fruchborn), so for whatever reason, successful middle-aged comic actor/producers seem to have the subject on their minds.  The Cool Kids is more diverse than Dads, which may be a sign of some kind of progress:  in addition to Mull as Charlie, it includes David Alan Grier as Hank, and Leslie Jordan as the openly gay Sid.  When we meet them in the pilot, they’re a closely-bound group of friends who are mourning their recently passed cohort Jerry.  The plot, such as it is, recounts the initial resistance of the gang, especially Hank, to the home’s new resident Margaret (Vicki Lawrence), who insists on taking Jerry’s chair at their dining hall table and doesn’t respect their status.  But darn it if Margaret isn’t quite the sparkplug, prompting them to steal a car so they can abduct Jerry’s body for a proper memorial, and by the end of the pilot, they’ve all bonded.  There are jokes about cremation and race (Hank worries about being stopped by the cops with a white woman next to him in the car), and about Sid being gay, and there’s a life lesson in the last act, yet not a second when any of the characters feels like anything other than a vehicle for punchlines.

The four leads are old pros, of course, and they sock their dialogue across, and director Don Scardino keeps the multi-camera traffic moving.  The script, however, lacks even a moment of cleverness, much less emotional honesty, and the 22 minutes plod along.  The Cool Kids follows the rebooted Last Man Standing on FOX’s Friday, in what will surely give CBS a run for its money in the oldest-skewing primetime hour sweepstakes, and both comedies face the newer-generation Fresh Off the Boat and Speechless on ABC.  There may be room for all of them with the split in demographics they offer.  The Cool Kids, though, feels like one long senior moment, afflicted with a bad case of comedy arthritis.


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."