Monday, October 01, 2007

TV premiering tonight: Aliens in America

There are only a handful of sitcoms premiering this fall, and most of them are pretty forgettable. Sadly, this is one of them, although it's mildly amusing and has a potentially provocative premise. We've really gotten to the point now where a single-camera show with no laugh track can be as conventional as a three-camera, laugh-tracked show, as Aliens in America effectively proves. This is your standard family sitcom, with the harried, overworked dad, the fussy mom, the nerdy brother and the hot older sister who won't give him the time of day. There are lessons learned and sweet moments of togetherness at the end of each episode (or at least the two I've seen).

The one thing that sets this show apart is its hook, which is that this nice, wholesome Wisconsin family ends up with an exchange student from Pakistan. The pilot plays with the political implications in some fairly daring and funny ways, but by episode two it's strictly predictable fish-out-of-water jokes that could have been done with almost any sort of cultural clash. Like Everybody Hates Chris, the show it follows, Aliens in America manages to turn some pretty edgy concepts into safe, cuddly mainstream comedy, which in a way is sort of subversive but mostly succeeds at making the show fade into the background. The CW, Mondays, 8:30 p.m.

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