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Review: ABC’s ‘The Neighbors’ just pestering primetime audience with preposterously bad jokes

30 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC.

Here’s how the conception of ABC’s “The Neighbors” must have gone down: series creator Dan Fogelman, living large off his earnings as the writer of films such as “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” “Cars” and “Tangled” staggered into a favorite watering hole with his BFF, fell into a drunken stupor and propositioned his friend with a wager.

“I bet I can sell a sitcom to a major network that revolves around a family’s move into a gated community populated by aliens masquerading as Brits with names like Larry Bird, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Dick Butkus,” the drunken Fogelman might have said.

There’s no way this premise could’ve sounded promising under a legal blood alcohol level. And yet Fogelman succeeded in shepherding “The Neighbors” to primetime, where it debuted 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on ABC in a gift of a time slot with network stalwart “Modern Family” as a lead-in. At the very least, this catastrophe would garner decent ratings.

In my opinion, the pilot failed to resonate with any Earth-dwelling viewer. The jokes were so preposterously bad that I began to wonder if they were on me not understanding. Case in point: patriarch of the (human) Weaver family, Marty (Lenny Venito), giggling obnoxiously whenever Butkus’s (Ian Patrick) name was mentioned.

Once I accepted and embraced the basic truths of “The Neighbors,” the show became palatable in an “it’s so bad, it’s good” type of way. After the Weavers ascertain the real origins of their neighbors, the crux of the episode focuses on young Butkus’ apparent destiny to use the poo-pa device to travel into the future so he can be raised by his grandchildren (the reasons for which remain unclear to me and my roommates). However, the alien parents are prodded by the Weavers to abort the mission and keep Butkus at home, away from the various dangers lurking outside the Milky Way.

At the last possible second, mother Kersee smashes the poo-pa, ensuring her son’s safety. She proceeds to copulate with her husband (Bird) in the way extraterrestrials must do – fully clothed, standing two feet apart, with arms raised and eyes closed. It had all the eroticism of a Rosie O’Donnell photo shoot.

Of course, a 10-car pileup is more entertaining than a 10-car traffic jam, and “The Neighbors” is undoubtedly the former. If you want to witness this historic crash, tune in soon as I fear it won’t be on much longer.

“The Neighbors” is scheduled to air 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC.


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