Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Keeping Up with The Neighbors

Fall Television is officially here!  With all of the new TV programs airing this fall, Amber West and I have a ton of homework to do…  This week, we tuned in and watched two of the most recent additions to the comedy lineups for our Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews—NBC’s Guys with Kids and ABC’s The Neighbors.

Welcome to Hidden Hills, a gated community in the suburbs of New Jersey complete with its own golf course… sounds peaceful, right?  Not when the entire neighborhood consists of aliens…

The new ABC comedy follows the experiences of the Weaver family, the first human family to move into Hidden Hills in the ten years its current residents (aliens from the planet Zabvron) have been waiting for instructions to return home.  At first, the Weavers believe their new neighbors are just weird (they dress alike AND they are all named after famous athletes), but do weird neighbors really cry out a nasty goo from their ears when upset?  No… that would be aliens.

The series stars Lenny Venito (one of Sipowicz’s snitches from NYPD Blue) and Jami Gertz (one of my favorite ‘80s actresses from movies like Sixteen Candles, Lost Boys, and Less Than Zero) as Marty and Debbie Weaver.  The Weavers have waited for years to get their family of five (Amber, the typical cranky teenager; Max, the take it or leave it preteen boy; and Abby, the youngest and typically adorable daughter) out of their crammed New Jersey apartment, and when the first unit in Hidden Hills opens up they snatch it.

The Weaver family’s reaction to the news that their neighbors are aliens…

Immediately welcoming the Weavers are the neighbors, a group of identically dressed adults all holding pies, led by the “supreme leader” Larry Bird (Simon Templeman) and his wife, Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye).  The Weavers notice that the Joyner-Kersee-Bird family is a bit of an oddity, but accept an invitation to dinner anyway—being neighborly and all…

While at dinner, the strangeness continues… at the dinner table, the Weavers enjoy the food that the Joyner-Kersee-Birds prepared for them, while the JKBs read books—that’s how they nourish their bodies.  After their respective meals, Jackie Joyner-Kersee confesses to Debbie that she wishes Larry Bird would treat her with more respect and talk to her the same way Marty does with Debbie, instead of ordering her around all the time.  Jackie further explains that she allows this treatment solely because Larry Bird gave birth to their children (a teenager, Reggie Jackson, and his younger brother, Dick Butkus)—a feat she will never understand and always appreciate.

Wait a minute… did Jackie Joyner-Kersee just imply that the men get pregnant and carry the babies in Hidden Hills?  Weird… oh, wait; they’re all aliens… okay.

But, perhaps my favorite part was when Jackie Joyner-Kersee was washing dishes… well, not so much washing as throwing them out the window.  Now, that’s my kind of lady!  Haven’t we all been there before?  Wishing we could just toss the nastiness instead of soaking and scrubbing plates?

Anyway, it’s not until after dinner that all the craziness breaks out.

Trying to impress his new friends, Dick Butkus shows Max and Abby exactly what makes him special—with the clap of his hands, he immediately transforms into a little green alien, thrusting green goo all over the Weaver children.  Needless to say, the Weaver children run screaming from the house, leaving the parents wondering what in the world had just transpired upstairs.  And of course, Marty and Debbie don’t believe Max and Abby… not until the entire Joyner-Kersee-Bird family shows up at the Weaver house and lets their true forms shine.

The “real” Joyner-Kersee-Bird Family…

The first episode opened with a lot of promise; I even laughed out loud on a few different occasions.  But, the subsequent episodes haven’t nearly been as funny…  Honestly, I thought “the neighbors are aliens” secret would last a little longer; but they were “outed” before the end of the first episode.  The remaining episodes, while cute, have focused on the Weavers “teaching” the Joyner-Kersee-Birds all about life here on earth, while simultaneously learning about their very own family issues within.

Usually when I review a new television program, I can’t help but award it with the SSTV rating; but I’m breaking away from the norm today.  That’s right—I’m awarding The Neighbors with the NIV rating.  I know what some of our readers are thinking… I must not like ABC’s new comedy if I’m only willing to watch it while I’m dozing off.  That’s not true; I do like it, but it’s not something I’m dying to watch as soon as Wednesday night rolls around.

It’s simply okay; not bad, but not great either… but, definitely appropriate for viewers of all ages—a real family show.  There really aren’t many honest-to-goodness family programs on TV today… and this is one reason why I keep tuning in to The Neighbors.  The sitcom tackles very important topics like the first day of school in a new neighborhood (or world for that matter), how to respond to bullying, the meaning of family holiday celebrations, and the patience to understand that we’re not all the same.

Aliens on an escalator for the first time… too funny!

I may not watch The Neighbors until I’m crawling into bed to go to sleep, but I do watch it—it remains a weekly recording on my DVR queue… for now.

What do you think?  Have you watched The Neighbors?   I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s new & improved blog and see what she thinks about Jimmy Fallon’s new creation, Guys With Kids.

Come back next week when Amber and I return with an installment of Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday unlike any other… we’re reviewing the same show for the very first time!  Will we agree or disagree after watching Chicago Fire?

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV)Do we really have to explain? Blech

Friday FabOoolousness: The Fear of the Unknown

Catie Rhodes and I are back with our new blog collaborative series where we each review an original movie and it’s more recent remake.  This month, we discuss the psychological horror film/s, The Thing.

Despite the fact that Catie agreed to review the 1982 film version of The Thing starring Kurt Russell, I scheduled the DVR to record it and watched it as well.  What better research for my blog post than to watch both films practically back-to-back, right?

For an early ‘80s film, The Thing is really terrifying.  I had seen it before, but still managed to jump in my seat on multiple occasions and cringe at some of the special effects — not because they were outdated, but because they were so well done and gory beyond belief.

The 1982 movie poster

After reading Catie’s post, I knew exactly why I was so impressed: The Thing was directed by none other than John Carpenter himself.  I may not be a “Level 3 Nerd” fan like she is, but I too believe the man is genius and knows horror (I am a big fan of Halloween; thank you, Mr. Carpenter).

I am also glad Catie mentioned the hotness of Kurt Russell.  Even with a full-on beard, the man had it going on in The Thing.  And if we’re being honest here, the main reason why I wanted to review the 2011 remake of The Thing is because of another cutie on my radar – Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: LA).

He's not a bad reason to watch a movie, right?

So I keep saying remake, but this is not correct.  I had heard in passing that the 2011 film was actually a prequel to the 1982 movie, but like usual decided that I must first see it to believe it.

It is.

Based on the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, writer Eric Heisserer begins the story with the Norwegian and American scientists who discover The Thing.  Not only do they discover the alien life form, but they also find its spaceship buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice.    The Norwegians contact a doctor (Ulrich Thomsen) about the discovery and he immediately makes plans to travel to the base.  But he first needs someone to assist with the dig.

The doctor remains hush-hush about the find when he hires a paleontologist to assist him (Kate, played by Mary Elizabeth Winsted).  Together with the doctor’s assistant (Olsen), the three travel to the Antarctic not knowing what BIG discovery they will unearth.  It doesn’t take long for their eyes to bug out in disbelief when they see firsthand what they are dealing with.

Kate immediately gets to work, and with help from the scientists removes a large chunk of ice surrounding the alien.  They return The Thing to the Norwegian base and the Mister-Know-It-All-Doctor demands a tissue sample from The Thing, even though Kate highly recommends against it.

The group later gathers in the common area and celebrates the find – they will forever be associated with the team that captured the first alien life form known to man.  While they party, the alien breaks through the ice and escapes.

Or does it?

Burn it! Burn it!

After capturing and burning the alien life form, Kate learns from a tissue sample that the creature’s cells have yet to die.  Instead, these cells have the ability to imitate another’s cells perfectly: a human’s cells.

Much like the original film, panic and mass paranoia spreads across the camp like a wildfire in hot, dry, and windy conditions.  The search for The Thing yields many dead bodies (and a dog, which I could have done without).  But luckily for the group, Kate discovers a crucial tell-tale sign about The Thing — when it imitates a life form, it cannot absorb any metal — therefore no dental fillings, no earrings, and no metal rods replacing bones from previous surgeries will absorb in the mutation.  Knowing this will later prove to save her life.

I'd be looking behind my shoulder too...

The 2011 movie ends just as the 1982 movie begins.  The transition was very well done, even matching the music and the burned Norwegian camp with the dead body inside (the man slit his throat rather than die at the hands of The Thing).  The film also answers how The Thing escapes camp to continue its slaughter of human lives after MacReady (Russell) arrives – the alien is the dog (again with the poor dog).

Unlike the 1982 movie, the prequel (ha, notice I didn’t say remake this time) didn’t get great overall reviews.  But it’s really not that bad.  I particularly liked the fact that one doesn’t have to watch the films sequentially in order to understand what’s going on.  I also applaud the fact that even though the 2011 film is a prequel to the 1982 version, they didn’t take us back in time with ‘80s clothes and other retro images.  Or if they did, it wasn’t distracting.  It’s not that I have anything against the ‘80s (I’m actually a proud child of the ‘80s), but sometimes the effort to create a certain time period takes away from the rest of the story.

Having watched both films, and truly knowing what to expect, I still jumped in my seat…on multiple occasions.  I even looked away at times.  That to me is good horror.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the 1982 or the 2011 The Thing?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

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