July 16, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “The Jim Gaffigan Show”


THE JIM GAFFIGAN SHOW:  Wednesday 10PM on TV Land – If Nothing Else Is On…

Doofus dads are a staple of TV sitcoms, and THE JIM GAFFIGAN SHOW is an affable addition to the canon.  Gaffigan has made a modest industry out of recounting his life as a stand-up comic squeezed with his wife and 5 kids into a small NY apartment, turning the material into several bestselling books and now this series, which he created with Peter Tolan, and on which his real-life wife Jeannie (as opposed to his fictional wife Jeannie, played in the show by the always charming Ashley Williams) is a writer/producer along with him.

There’s a reason TV Land has been previewing an episode of the series that isn’t the pilot before the premiere, and that’s because the pilot is a hackier piece of work than the later episodes.  Although the pilot, written by Gaffigan and Tolan, and directed by Seth Gordon, establishes the indie-lite visual tone of the show and the genial attitude, the central relationship between Jim and Jeannie feels too much like it’s out of a million sitcoms that came before it.  The plotline of the half-hour has Jim trying to prove that Jeannie doesn’t know him as well as she thinks she does by pretending to consider a vasectomy (she’s described in the script as a “Shiite Catholic” who won’t tolerate birth control), but of course she does have him nailed, and every step of the way she affectionately belittles him by talking about his “under-bits” to everyone she comes in contact with, including her priest and her ex Daniel (Michael Ian Black), who’s now their gay real estate agent.  All Jim can do is seek buddy time with Dave (Adam Goldberg), who’s unmarried, disdains children and talks about strip clubs, but who isn’t taken seriously enough to be a genuinely bad influence.  The predictability joke is on the episode itself, which moves from one obvious story beat to the next.  (Will Jeannie, Daniel, Dave and all the kids show up at the urologist’s office when Jim has his sham appointment to hear about the details of vasectomy?  Of course they will.)

Mercifully, the series moves past this level of cliche after the pilot, and Jim and Jeannie become more of an easygoing team, each of them with foibles, instead of the joke constantly being what a numbskull Jim is.  There’s still nothing much to The Jim Gaffigan Show, and Black and Goldberg keep their characters afloat strictly by virtue of their personal styles, not through the material they’ve been given.  Gaffigan has a likably shambling way about him that helps, and as writer/producer, he keeps things moving, not allowing the show to linger on its more familiar notes.  The result doesn’t have the genuine wit or occasional edge of Everyone Loves Raymond, one of its obvious models, let alone the originality of Black-ish, but it’s a pleasant enough half-hour for those seeking some guiltless sitcom comfort food in a summer nearly devoid of quality comedy.



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."