TV tonight: lackluster writing wastes skilled cast of ‘Family Tools’

‘Family Tools’ premieres tonight on ABC

Photo: Facebook/Family Tools

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2013―Based on the British comedy “White Van Man,” ABC’s newest sitcom “Family Tools” is about an underachieving but well meaning son who returns home to take over the family handyman business after a heart attack forces the retirement of his father.

At first glance the new ABC comedy appears to have all the elements of a successful sitcom. The basic premise of “Family Tools” presents a wealth of opportunity for diverse story lines and character development. Since this format is key to the success of shows like “Modern Family” and “The Big Bang Theory,” it comes as no surprise that ABC is attempting to copy it.

“Family Tools” features an ensemble cast of familiar actors with enough experience to make any decently written sitcom a success. The retiring handyman at the helm of the family is Tony Shea, played by J.K. Simmons. Simmons is a well known TV actor whose roles range from a white supremacist inmate on “Oz” to an assistant police chief on “The Closer.” His participation alone should make “Family Tools” worth watching.

Playing the prodigal son Jack Shea is Kyle Bornheimer, an actor with considerable promise despite starring in three failed sitcoms in a row. Described by one critic as “the new Bob Newhart,” Bornheimer’s consistently questionable career choices may be his best known claim to fame so far in his short career. The probability that “Family Tools” will be added to his list of failed TV shows makes us wonder just who Bornheimer’s agent is and why he hasn’t fired him by now.

Rounding out a cast of familiar TV faces is Leah Remini, well known for her role as the spunky wife on the incredibly successful sitcom “The King of Queens.” Remini’s role as Terry McCormick, the bossy sister of Jack on “Family Tools” is yet another reason why the show should be successful.

With so much going for it, “Family Tools” should be an enjoyable and well received addition to the Wednesday night ABC lineup. What we get instead is a poorly written series of tired clichés and physical comedy that are as predictable as they are forgettable.

Wasting the skills of a talented cast and the time of anyone who tunes in tonight will be the only legacy of “Family Tools.”

Tonight’s viewing:

All times are EDT:

8 p.m.

ABC: The Middle: (New) Frankie tries to make Sue appear more popular on Facebook; Frankie’s dad (Jerry Van Dyke) makes Mike listen to long-winded life stories; Brick and Axl try to create a viral video.

CBS: Survivor: Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorities: (New) The castaways are confronted with two immunity challenges and two tribal councils, which force them to consider making big moves on their most imposing threats.

FOX: American Idol: (New) The remaining finalists perform LIVE for America’s votes.

NBC: The Voice: (Live) A look back at the best stories and performances from the auditions, battles and knockouts.

CW: Arrow: (New) Finding it difficult to mend fences with Tommy and Diggle, Oliver instead focuses on crossing another name off the list. While digging through a crooked accountant’s laptop, Felicity (guest star Emily Bett Rickards) discovers a transaction that could help Oliver find Walter.

8:30 p.m.

ABC: Family Tools: (New) Tony has a heart attack and is forced to hand the family business over to his son, Jack; while Jack’s past career efforts have not been successful, he is eager to finally step up and make his father proud.

9 p.m.

ABC: Modern Family: (New) Phil is excited to discuss his job with Luke, Manny and their classmates on career day, but things get ugly when Phil’s nemesis shows up; Cam and Mitch make a mistake while executing tooth fairy duties.

CBS: Criminal Minds: (New) The BAU travel to Rapid City after two male victims are discovered murdered in a ritualistic manner. Also, Reid continues to grieve over Maeve’s death.

NBC: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: (New) The SVU squad investigates the vicious assault of a high school girl at a rock concert.

CW: Supernatural: (New) When Sam and Dean receive a distressing video message from Kevin Tran (guest star Osric Chau); they set about trying to uncover the Third Trial. The boys make a discovery that sends them to a casino in Colorado, to find a mysterious recluse (guest star Curtis Armstrong) who may be able to fill in the holes in Kevin’s research.

PBS: Nova: (New) The evolution of creatures unique to Australia, such as the kangaroo and cassowary, is chronicled alongside the change in the continent’s landscape, which transformed from jungles to eucalyptus forests, grasslands and deserts.

9:30 p.m.

ABC: How to Live With Your Parents: (New) Max and Elaine offer to baby-sit Natalie so Polly can spend time with Scott, but complications arise when Natalie goes missing.

10 p.m.

ABC: Nashville: (New) When Liam asks Rayna to run away with him and finish her album, Deacon has an unexpected reaction; Jolene questions Dante’s loyalty; Teddy confronts Peggy about the leaks.

CBS: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: (New) The CSI team investigates a popular spiritual retreat when a body is found floating in a mud bath. Meanwhile, Hodges questions his marriage plans to Elisabetta.

NBC: Chicago Fire: (New) Old friends and enemies resurface to wreak havoc on Firehouse 51.

PBS: Secrets of the Dead: (New) The thoughts and opinions of German POWs during World War II are revealed in this installment, which relies on transcripts from an MI19 (British military intelligence) bugging operation that secretly recorded the conversations of 4000 German prisoners.

Basic cable:

New episodes of:

Mythbusters: Blast From the Past at 8 p.m. on DSC

Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda at 8 p.m. on ID

Mythbusters at 9 p.m. on DSC

Restaurant Impossible at 9 p.m. on Food Channel

Locked Up Abroad at 9 p.m. on NGC

Haunted Collector at 9 p.m. on Syfy

Toy Hunter at 9 p.m. on Travel Channel

The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius at 10 p.m. on BRAVO

Restaurant Stakeout at 10 p.m. on Food Channel

The Americans at 10 p.m. on FX

Real World: Portland at 10 p.m. on MTV

Breakout at 10 p.m. on NGC

Deep South Paranormal at 10 p.m. on Syfy

Psych at 10p.m. on USA

Dukes of Melrose at 10 and 10:30 p.m. on BRAVO

I Was Murdered at 10 and10:30 p.m. on ID

House Hunters International at 10:30 p.m. on HGTV

For movie lovers:

8 p.m.

The Breakfast Club on AMC

The Silence of the Lambs on CINEMAX

Girls! Girls! Girls! On ENC

Autumn in New York on FLIX

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy on HBO

Risky Business on IFC

Mean Girls on SHO

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys on SUND

Brother Rat on TCM

9 p.m.

National Security on ION

The Mask on ABCFAM

Chronicle on MOMAX

The Patriot on STARZ

Later tonight:

Contagion at 9:30 p.m. on HBO

3000 Miles to Graceland at 9:40 p.m. on ENC

Four Daughters at 9:45 p.m. on TCM

HIGH School at 9:45 p.m. on SHO

Fast Five at 10 p.m. on CINEMAX

Bad Boys at 10:15 p.m. on IFC

Sixteen Candles at 10:16 p.m. on AMC

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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.


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