'Sons of Tucson' - 'Pilot' Recap
by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 15th 2010 5:29PM
(S01E01) "All right, boys. Let's play house." - Ron to the Gunderson boys
It's hard to dislike 'Sons of Tucson,' and believe me, I've tried.
It stands on Fox's Sunday comedy pedestal as a mix of borrowed plots and styles. It's got the attitude of 'Malcolm in the Middle,' the plot of 'Arrested Development' and the dramatic tragedy of 'Breaking Bad.'
But, hey, if you're going to borrow, borrow from the best.
The show stars Tyler Labine, aka 'Reaper's' Sock, as Ron, a shiftless, homeless, moral-less sporting goods store customer service rep who lives out of his employer's parking lot and steals from his grandmother to pay off his bat-wielding bookie. The boys need a pseudo-father since their real one has been hauled off to jail for pulling a Bernie Madoff, so they hire Tyler to step in and convince the school that they are under parental supervision.
Putting aside the mental logistics of the situation, the characters are very hard to like. It's easy to feel sorry for the orphaned kids that the system probably let slip through the cracks, but they also live in a huge suburban house complete with more kids toys and tech than the suburban castle from 'Blank Check.' And all of it, if you believe the already convoluted exposition, has been bought with money swindled from the bank accounts of innocent people who thought they were going to get a slice of the American dream. So right off the bat (no pun intended), a rabid animal is easier to like than these people.
Fortunately, the script knows the characters aren't Medal of Freedom material, so the situation makes up for some of their likability as they swap hero and villain roles in the nature of the situation. The kids need Ron to convince the principal that they have proper parental supervision and Ron needs the kids to keep from melting in the relentless Arizona sun. The plots of the scheme have varying degrees of comedic success, from Ron's manipulative visits with the school's principal, played by Kurt Fuller, to an edgy and creepy post-Katrina story with the school's flirty secretary.
It doesn't, however, skimp on the cynicism. The pilot doesn't wrap things up with a nice moral about the power of family and the unspoken bond of pseudo-father and son. It starts on edgy comedy and ends on edgy comedy. In fact, the "fishbowl" incident at the very end was my favorite moment throughout the whole episode and set the tone perfectly for the rest of the show.
That isn't to say that Ron won't develop a bond for the boys later on the subsequent seasons, assuming it lasts beyond one or two. It feels as though it could literally go either way from here. It could become a new must-see staple in Fox's Sunday comedy block or just another DVD in that big Wal-Mart discount bin of doom.
[Watch episodes of 'Sons of Tucson' at SlashControl.]