‘The Neighbors’ Series Premiere Review

Published 3 years ago by

neighbors key art The Neighbors Series Premiere Review

Comedy and science fiction is something that rarely works on television. Not since 3rd Rock from the Sun has the family sitcom formula featured aliens, but The Neighbors is up to the task, this time pairing a human family with a group of aliens (disguised as human beings) stranded in a gated golf community called Hidden Hills.

The pilot begins as an alien group politely moves in to a gated community to wait for contact from their home planet Zabvron. Why they were traveling to Earth to begin with isn’t revealed, but that will likely come into play as the series progresses. After 10 years of waiting, two of the aliens get sick of their life and leave the community. Enter the Weavers – led by mother and father Marty and Debbie (played by Lenny Venito and Jami Gertz respectively) – who move into the proverbial hornet’s nest.

Thankfully these hornets are merely quirky aliens who, for some reason, have not yet become acclimated to many aspects of human life after being on the planet for 10 years. But the Weavers, including teenage daughter Amber (Clara Mamet) and youngsters Max (Max Charles) and Abby (Isabella Cramp), still have a lot to get used to with their new otherworldly neighbors: The men have the babies, they all nourish their bodies with reading instead of food, and they leak green liquid out of their ears when crying. It’s a lot of silliness, but the writing packs some wit along with the goofball nature of the aliens being simply weird. A lot of this works thanks to solid comedic performances from the parental leads on both sides.

The Weavers and the aliens – who have taken the names of famous athletes like Larry Bird (Simon Templeman), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) and their children Reggie Jackson (Tim Jo) and Dick Butkus (Ian Patrick) – soon become cautiously friendly, realizing that at their core, being from different planets doesn’t make them all that different from each other. It’s a simple concept, but again the writing and acting work together to make The Neighbors surprisingly enjoyable.

neighbors weavers in bed The Neighbors Series Premiere Review

Though the series is light thematically (it’s also not too dissimilar from ABC’s Suburgatory), it’s not hard to dig in and find metaphors for immigration and naturalization. Of course, it’s easy to gloss over those aspects because of the broad comedy on display. If the series establishes itself quickly though, there may be more opportunity to present the ever-changing face of the nuclear family in the same way that Modern Family and now The New Normal have done on network television.

Created by Cars, Tangled and Crazy Stupid Love writer Dan Fogelman, The Neighbors feels like it came from the ’90s, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a certain charm to the sometimes cheesy family dynamic that blossoms between the Weavers and our alien invaders. However, the witty comedy never quite reaches the quality of 3rd Rock from the Sun or even other quirky series from ABC’s recent past like Pushing Daisies. Coneheads comes to mind as a good comparison, and it’s clear that this series definitely drew some inspiration from the Saturday Night Live sketches turned feature film. Thankfully though,The Neighbors has the chance to find a larger audience as it’s easily meant for the whole family, without sacrificing comedic quality (in most cases).

The Neighbors is a surprisingly funny comedy series, reminiscent of the kind of laughs families received with Dinosaurs on ABC back in the 90s, but with a contemporary edge from a proven writer. Fans of Fogelman’s work on Crazy Stupid Love – which handled the trials and tribulations of a broken family and and romance with some charismatic and genuine writing – may find themselves enjoying this sitcom despite its sci-fi elements.

The Neighbors airs Wednesdays at 9:30 on ABC.

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  2. Really? I thought it was painfully awful.

  3. Why are you pandering to ABC? Are they paying you for this review? This show is possibly worse than last year’s WORK IT.

  4. I just saw the trailer for it. It looked terrible.

  5. Yeah, this show was horrible. The writing sucks (why don’t they integrate after ten years), the acting sucks (look at those kids!), and it has so many changes in mood it’s not funny. Sometimes we’re supposed to laugh, sometimes we’re supposed to be scared, sometimes we’re supposed to worry for the characters.

    Also we do know why they’re on Earth. They are scouting out planets for suitable living conditions should temperatures on their home get too high.

  6. Sounds like a rip off of 3rd Rock From The Sun, “with a twist” of course… and being the OCD freak that I am, I’ll never get over the fact that they’re spelling ‘Neighbor’ incorrectly (IMO) – Neighbour.

    I’ll give the show the benefit of the doubt and watch an episode when it airs here, but it doesn’t sound that interesting IMO.

    • Neighbour is the British spelling…the aliens took on a British accent. Makes sense to me.

  7. I tried to watch the show and it was just bad. I found myself snoozing through parts of it. The acting is just horrible and the writing/script was equally as bad. I see this show getting cancelled the first season in.

  8. Don’t think I have EVER seen so much disagreement from commentors on a review. Didn’t see the show, frankly never even heard of it before, but it is the first time the comments section has changed my mind about watching something that was in disagreement with the reviewer.
    Quite odd.

  9. Pretty much everyone is in agreement that it was beyond terrible. What a strange review. The numbskull buying a house for his wife in secret, yup that’s sci fi right there, never mind aliens named after sports stars….ugh as i write this i hate it even more.

  10. I would put it in the so bad it’s good category, reminds me of Superbabies Baby Geniuses 2 and Nutcracker 3D, ie train wrecks you just can’t look away from. The sheer stupidity of the whole thing will probably get old after a few episodes but I watched the pilot totally entertained by wondering what the heck the ABC execs were smoking agreeing to air this.

  11. I love Jamie Gertz and I found The Neighbors oddly entertaining. I will watch next week. I would much rather watch The Neighbors than The Mindy Project or Ben and Kate which, I couldn’t even finish watching because it was so annoying. Have y’all forgotten the fabulous days of 3rd Rock from the Sun: A group of aliens are sent to Earth, disguised as a human family, to experience and report life on the 3rd planet from the sun – Starring John Lithgow, Jane Curtain, Kristen Johnston, French Steward and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

    There are plenty of folks on other entertainment sites that like The Neighbors.

  12. I liked it. It was harmless comedy. I’m sure the show will oick up more wit once it’s had a couple of more episodes. Pilots are never a great indication of where a show will go.

  13. Not the best pilot episode … but i will continue to tune in for a couple weeks before i officially decide

  14. Maybe it’s just because I find comedic value in the pro-athlete names, but I really like The Neighbors. I’ll be catching all of the episodes on my Hopper throughout the season—hopefully the show makes it through without getting axed. A buddy that I work with at DISH said that it reminds him of Coneheads, too. I can’t wait to see if anymore characters show up. Hopefully we can get a Scottie Pippen on the show and have the scene be as cool as the Reggie Jackson one. The Neighbors will be one of many shows recorded and saved on my DVR this fall TV season. I’m just glad that the Hopper has plenty of memory; so much that you can afford to record a couple of duds, too.

  15. I’m with Lisa on all counts. Neighbours is OK so far and couldn’t sit through Mindy or Ben and Kate.

    Some points to the reviewer – The aliens did say why the trip to Earth. They were scouting it out in the event that their planet got too warm. Also, why didn’t they assimilate? They eat by reading and probably brought their four outfits with them. None of them have jobs (assuming the rest of the aliens are like fearless leader). Not much reason to leave the community.

    So after quitting on Ben and Kate, The Mindy Project, and Partners, my wife and I will give Neighbours a chance. And if they come out with a Larry Bird and Jackie Joyner-Kersee cookbook, well, we’ll flip through it in Barnes and Noble.

    • Cookbook – LOL

  16. Where’s Suburgatory? This show is awful.

  17. I like it. There were a few really funny things happening. I’ve watched all episodes and I haven’t been disappointed. I think it has the potential to get even better.