Let’s just say hypothetically you were at a party and someone asked you what your favorite TV sitcom this season is. Say Brooklyn Nine Nine and you’ll get some nods. Modern Family and everyone will agree. Big Bang Theory? Can’t go wrong there. But…The Neighbors? Chances are you’ll get either blank stares or uncomfortable “Are you serious?” laughter. Here’s the thing, though: It’s funny. Like, actually funny. I’d even say funnier than at least one of those other sitcoms.
I remember talking to series creator Dan Fogelman once and he told me that he was more than aware that people were secretive about loving the show. Maybe people felt like it was too 3rd Rock from the Sun or even Mork & Mindy. But last night’s episode – titled “Challoweenukah” – proves that TV viewers should give this show another chance. Possibly even a season pass.
This week’s plot: Papa alien Larry Bird (Simon Templeman, whose commitment to this character is impressive and hilarious) loooooves holidays. In fact, as he shares, “a long long time ago I was in a thing called a Jewish deli,” when he discovered Chanukah. Larry comes up with the idea to combine Chanukah and Halloween to create a super-holiday marked by eight days of candy. “We shall take the two best holidays on this planet and combine them into one ultimate holiday!” he exclaims. Cut to the end of the 22-minute episode, when Larry lands in jail after attempting to invite children into his van for candy.
Meanwhile, human neighbors Debbi (Jami “Square Pegs” Gertz) and Marty (Lenny Venito) get competitive with their Halloween costumes, building a family-sized sandwich ensemble in order “to impress people [we] hate because they’re rich and happy.”
Not sold yet? You’re not alone. Around 4 million viewers are tuning in every week, which isn’t much better than the numbers for Dads. Come on, people.
My final pitch: Fogelman also wrote Crazy, Stupid, Love; Cars 2; Fred Claus; Last Vegas; and the upcoming Al Pacino movie Imagine. So, the mind behind The Neighbors is basically endorsed by multiple Oscar winners.