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The Bill Engvall Show -- An early look

by Richard Keller, posted Jul 12th 2007 10:32AM

Bill Engvall and Nancy Travis

I don't think I would be stretching the truth too much if I said that the family sitcom is pretty much dead on network television. I mean, with the exception of According to Jim and perhaps Two and a Half Men, there has been a dearth of successful family comedies on the air since the departure of Everybody Loves Raymond and Arrested Development a few years ago.

Now, notice I said the family sitcom is dead on network television. On cable the family comedy thrives. In addition to constant reruns of shows like The Andy Griffith Show, The Cosby Show, Full House, Rosanne and Everybody Loves Raymond there are a number of original family comedies packing the schedules of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Programs like Hanna Montana, That's So Raven, Drake & Josh, and Just Jordan. True, many of these shows focus on the kids in the family rather than the grown-ups, but there is always a parent or two around to provide solace and wisdom when things turn bad.

So, it's no surprise that the next generation of family-centric situation comedies would begin to premiere on some of the cable networks that are commonly known for their ever-airing reruns of classic shows. It's even less of a surprise that a network like TBS has taken the reins on this task. For, while its sister station TNT is known for its original dramas, TBS, which is home Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement and Still Standing, wants to be known for its first-run comedies.

It began last year with late-night comedies 10 Items or Less and the surprise hit My Boys. Now, they are working on the prime-time market. The first sitcom to premiere was Tyler Perry's' House of Payne -- a series about a multi-generational, working-class family. On July 17th they roll-out of new family comedy with the premiere of The Bill Engvall Show.

Many of you know Bill from his appearance on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, where he performed his family-based stand-up comedy routine with the likes of Jeff Foxworthy (who had his own family sitcom once) and Larry the Cable Guy. Now, Bill is taking that experience and putting it into a honest-to-god three camera, live studio audience situation comedy. And, guess what? The show isn't that bad. It's certainly not the greatest situation comedy that has graced the television screen since its invention, but it has its moments.

Engvall stars as Bill Pearson (can't these guys think of any original names that don't start with their own first name?), a family counselor who lives in a Denver suburb. His wife, Susan (played by the lovely Nancy Travis), is a stay-at-home mom who keeps her children in line while amusingly tolerating her husband. The children are your typical sitcom kids. There's good-looking teenage daughter Lauren, sort-of slacker teenage son Trent, and ultra-smart youngest son Bryan, who seems like the adopted child in the entire group.

Plenty of stereotypical sitcom territory is stepped upon in this show. Like his predecessors in other sitcoms, Bill is shown as someone who thinks he has control over what goes on in the family, even though his wife is the one who really runs the house. Granted, he's not totally emasculated like, say, Tim Taylor was on Home Improvement, but he does act like a puppy who's peed the carpet in a few scenes. He's also a bit overzealous when it comes to helping his children with their issues. One example of this is when he wants to teach his eldest son how to wear a condom, which was one of the funnier scenes of the show.

But, there are some things that you normally don't see. For example the family is shown sitting down and actually having dinner together. There's also the fact that Lauren, the eldest daughter, isn't shown as a typical ditsy teenage girl. She shows common sense in her decisions, which is refreshing to see (and provides me a bit of comfort as a father of three young daughters who will one day be teenagers). Then there's the naked arguments between Bill and his wife. Don't ask!

Overall, there is more good than bad in The Bill Engvall Show. The cast is strong, the acting is solid, and the writing is definitely not cringe-inducing. While it will definitely not please everyone, it is a show that you and your (older) kids can watch. And, that's pretty important in today's world of television. So, I recommend giving it a shot and seeing what you think.

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I've never heard of this bill character either. Yes Dear was also a great show along with Still Standing and King of Queens.

August 28 2007 at 4:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe I watched a different show... I don't know. I just watched the football episode online, and frankly it is probably the worst show I have ever seen.

Acting seemed forced, the laughter (even though said in front of a live audience, seemed prompted).

Not good.

July 20 2007 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hope the Bill Engvall show is a success! I am tired of the lack of sitcoms on the major networks! All FOX, CBS, ABC and NBC want to do is air reality crap! Meanwhile shows like Still Standing and just recently, King Of Queens are no longer on the air! It would be nice to see the Cable Networks revive shows like Still Standing and Reba! If Lifetime can show reruns, why not bring them back with new shows! Let's hope they can restore the genre of sitcoms on the airwaves

July 20 2007 at 1:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought the opening show was pretty good! Not amazing but it is just the pilot. And once again Greg, you have been living under a rock. I can understand not seeing his routines, but at least heard his name a few times.

July 18 2007 at 1:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nancy Travis deserves a hit TV show. She's brilliantly funny and will be a great foil for Bill. Besides, she's smokin' hot and I've seen some of the teasers with the "naked argument" you mentioned and that alone had my attention.

Based on the routines I've heard Bill do, (sorry Greg, you HAVE been living under a rock.. he's extremely well known) this show looks to be a decent extension of his comedy. As long as he's a part of the writing, this show should have a good run.


July 13 2007 at 5:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, I haven't been living under a rock.. but thanks anyway... I had heard of the B.C. Comedy Tour, but had never watched it... and after an informal poll of 30 people here at our TV Station, 19 had never seen it either...

Not saying Mr. Engvall isn't a funny guy.. but I don't think he's that "Wildly Popular and Well Known"...


July 12 2007 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sitcoms like Raymond and King of Queens are strong. Both had great performers and enough crazy storylines to keep them going. Another show which is oddly decent is Still Standing. I was suckered when I caught a rerun like a year ago. Mark Addy british actor from Full Monty pulls off the middle class Chicago accent well along with Jami Gertz who once portrayed Gilda Radner. A lot of interesting people have gueststarred including David Koechner, Kerri Kenny from Reno 911, and Kevin Nealon.

While it does get repetive once in awhile there a lot of great performances and interesting storylines. Plus the one-liners are excellent. So while I do think the traditional sitcom is dying, it can still work if the writing and performances are great. The writing needs to be there, so I don't know about Engvall, it could work maybe not. I've listened a good chunk of his stand up and it's not my cup of tea. The only Blue Collar guy I liked was Ron White. Foxworthy's observations are pretty redundant I'm not interested in jokes about hunting or men and women. Some of his earlier stuff actually dealt with interesting ideas like the porta-safe or pills.

July 12 2007 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'd actually never heard of Bill Engvall until Comedy Central recently ran a blue-collar weekend, and I recorded the movies so I could see Foxworthy's routines (because I love Foxworthy...)

I love Engvall *more*. Way funnier. And I can't wait to see this...

July 12 2007 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason Elias

I love Nancy Travis too, I'll check it out because she's on here...

July 12 2007 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't think most people would be asking that. He was part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, which unless you live under a rock, has been around for a few years and he is wildly popular and well known.

July 12 2007 at 11:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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