One reason Sons and Daughters is so difficult to sit through is that there’s a level on which its star, Lucie Arnaz, is perfect: As a single mother presiding over an extended family in Oregon, Arnaz embodies a type of person we’ve all met — a terribly earnest, intelligent, frazzled woman who likes to think of herself as colorfully neurotic when actually she’s just an overbearing pain in the neck. Arnaz does an impeccable job of playing this role, but who would want to watch her every week?
Sons and Daughters was announced as a fall series this past season, then yanked at the last minute. It’s easy to see why CBS was nervous — the show is an example of that genre the networks wanted you to forget: the dramedy. Remember the dramedy, which, by placing sitcom laughs in a dramatic setting, was going to revolutionize TV with shows like The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and Frank’s Place? It didn’t happen. Sons and Daughters is similarly disappointing: One minute, the show tries to wring laughs from its randy grandpa (Don Murray, formerly of Knots Landing); the next, it tries to elicit tears with a sappy, tell-me-your-problems scene between Arnaz and her adopted Korean daughter (Michelle Wong). Like Parenthood and the much-missed A Year in the Life, Sons and Daughters has such a large cast that it’s difficult, at first, to figure out who’s related to whom and in what way. The nice thing is, you don’t have to worry — you’re probably never going to watch this show again anyway. C-