by Amy K. Bredemeyer
When I first passed judgement on this show, I both liked it for the gimmick and worried that all it had was a gimmick. Well, two episodes in, the show seems like it's going to live and die on that gimmick. Now, when Third Rock from the Sun pulled the "we're aliens, we don't know how to do anything" gag week after week in the first couple of seasons, I liked it. Here, not only has it been done before, but the idea that the aliens have been on the planet for ten years already and are still experiencing things for the first time is a little far-fetched.
Now, that said, this show is not without its merits. I think that the kid actors (NOT the teenage ones) are great. I like Debbie and Jackie, too. I don't think that Marty or Larry even have the potential to be fantastic characters, and that might be the clincher for this show not working for me. Of course, it's a high-concept bit (just like ABC's Pan Am last season) that was talked up at Comic-Con (again, same as Pan Am), so the potential audience is there. Looking at the numbers, it opened just over nine million for the pilot, with only 6.32 million returning for the second episode. That's not deal-breaking territory, but if they fall to five million in the next month, I think ABC will pull it in favor of something else. I don't know that the show can keep their audience, let alone gain some, but we'll see.
The Neighbors "Pilot" (S01E01): Ten years ago, a group of aliens completely buys-out a townhouse community. Ten years later, as the battery in their communicator is running low (they didn't bring a charge and one has never arrived for whatever reason), one family of aliens decides to sell their home. [...will we see their adventures elsewhere?] So, the Weavers move from the city to this suburb, where they're promptly greeted by the Zabvronians, who are all named after professional athletes (and sleep from pods hanging from the ceiling). The next-door neighbors are the only family who has bred (and the man gives birth), so Larry Byrd and Jackie Joyner Kersee (independently wealthy aliens) have children names Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus (who are homeschooled). The Weaver clan is made up of Marty, who sells strollers and diapers, Debbie, who has a handbag line, and children Amber, Max, and Abby.
The younger kids are all playing together when Dick Butkus turns himself into his Zabvronian form, scaring the others. [Abby can do headstands??] This forces Jackie and Larry to explain their identities, which make Debbie want to move, but Marty thinks that they should stay. The next day, Jackie considers charging the communicator manually, but that means that Dick (being the community's youngest member) will be sent into the future and they'll never see him again. The adults decide at the last minute that they shouldn't go through with it, and Jackie even breaks the device so she isn't tempted again. [okay... so I guess we won't be hearing from the home planet on this show?!? Also, I didn't get what Larry meant when he said that they won't be seeing Jackie anytime soon... she's in the next episode!]
The Neighbors "Journey to the Center of the Mall" (S01E02): Marty and Debbie dream about the neighbors abducting their youngest children, so they repeatedly talk to Larry and Jackie to try to receive some reassurance. Jackie has other things on her mind, though, thinking that perhaps Reggie and Dick should go to public school. The kids are interested, and Jackie overrules Marty, so the next step is helping them "fit in" a little more. [Jackie playing with different accents was funny.] Debbie offers to take the family to the mall to go shopping for clothes, but this means some of the Zabvronians must leave the community for the first time. [the first time? ever? what are they on Earth to do??] The aliens are paranoid that they'll be hurt by riding in a minivan, but they make it to the Jersey Commons Mall. There, the fathers look at jackets and bond over having children who will be leaving the nest in a few years, while the mothers decide that they should try to place more trust in one another. Amber and Reggie hang out together while together while the younger kids become closer. [yeah, so not a whole lot happens. Oh, and Amber thinks she's a 7?? I'd hesitate to give her a 5...]