Worst Week, which premiered tonight on CBS, doesn’t focus on witty reparte the way most modern sitcoms do (or at least attempt). Instead, it’s an everything-goes-wrong sitcom, something not without precedent (the most recent coming to mind is Big Night), but uncommon and tough to do right. For at least the first episode, they pull it off. The focus is on one ordinary, well-intentioned guy who needs to impress the father of the woman he’s knocked up and is still engaged to. Now, since the father is played by the smart-but-dour-looking Kurtwood Smith (you probably remember him best as the dad on That 70s Show, although my first mental reference for him is always as the bad guy on The New Adventures of Beans Baxter — yes, my mind holds odd things), this is an uphill battle… and I think it’s the casting of Kurtwood, more than the rest of the cast (which is really just four people at this point: man, girlfriend, her dad, her mom) that makes this basically work.
The trick will be to keep it working. He has aspects of both shlmiel (someone whose loserdom arises from his own incompetence) and shlmazel (someone who fate just keeps handing bad, undeserved blows to), but as long as they can keep him basically the good guy, it wil allow the bad things to be funny. If they make the mistake of having him plan big, Lucy-like schemes and having them fail, then he will become a schemer, his failures will be justice, and there will be less humor there.
It’s not great, not a must-see, but different and well-done enough that it’s worth trying to see if it fits you.