Worst Week

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4 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

PEE AND SYMPATHY Bornheimer faces a bladder disaster
Photograph: Chris Haston/NBC Universal

Though he’s certainly a handsome guy, Kyle Bornheimer’s pudgy face and twinkling eyes aren’t exactly the stuff of which movie stars are made. But these qualities make him the ideal sympathetic sitcom lead, which is a good thing for the awkwardly titled (but absolutely sidesplitting) Worst Week. Any show that degrades its protagonist this much needs the most endearing star it can land.

Bornheimer plays Sam Briggs, a magazine editor whose serialized ordeal begins simply enough when he and his girlfriend, Melanie (Erinn Hayes), choose to tell her parents, Dick and Angela (Kurtwood Smith and Nancy Lenehan), that Melanie is pregnant and they plan to marry. Beginning with a mishap that results in Sam showing up at his future in-laws’ in a plastic loincloth, the series feels as if each staff writer took turns landing Sam in the worst jam possible, then let someone else figure out how to get him out of it.

By the end of the pilot, Sam has twice (inadvertently) convinced Melanie and Angela that Dick has died, in addition to causing several other misunderstandings too complicated to explain (and besides, doing so would ruin a number of killer gags from left field).

The general tone is closer to farce than pure sitcom (Blake Edwards is a particular influence), and having the actors play things as straight as possible keeps the bathroom humor from coming off as juvenile. Another big plus is the absence of a laugh track, rare on CBS sitcoms. If Worst Week can hold onto Two and a Half Men’s viewers instead of making them go, “Huh?,” we may be looking at a comedy institution in the making.

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