The Neighbors (ABC) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review

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ABC’s newest series, ‘The Neighbors’, revolves around a family that moves in to a community consisting entirely of aliens. It stars Jami Gertz (‘Still Standing’), Lenny Venito (‘The Sopranos’), Simon Templeman and many others, and airs Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.

Ten years ago, a group of aliens moved into a community on earth to investigate whether it is a good place for their species to live, waiting for a message from home with further instructions. Ten years later, two of the aliens got tired of waiting and so they sell their house. This means, humans will move into the alien community.

The family that is moving in to the house consists of mother Debbie (Gertz), father Marty (Venito), daughter Amber (Clara Mamet), daughter Abby (Isabella Cramp) and son Max (Max Charles, ‘The Amazing Spiderman’). Apparently, Marty decided to move the family to this house without consulting anyone, so the rest of the family is a little reluctant to moving there.

The family is welcomed by the community with pies. Lots and lots of pies. They’re also invited to dine with the community leader Larry Bird (Templeman) and his family the next evening, but dining for the aliens apparently means reading. So, an awkward dinner follows, with one family eating some very strange looking food, and the other family reading. Washing up becomes even more awkward when you realize that they have never had dishes, so they don’t know what to do with them. Throwing them out of the window seems to be the best option, so that’s what Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye), Larry’s wife, does.

In order to impress Max and Abby, Dick Butkus (Ian Patrick), son of Jackie and Larry, shows them his true form. Max and Abby freak out and run home screaming. The community decides that it may be time to show the family their true identities, seeing as they are bound to find out eventually. So, they come over, and they expose their true nature. Interestingly enough, they all look exactly alike. Sure, some are small and others are large, but one would expect some more diversity. Sadly, this is the fate all TV-aliens must bear, due to the high costs of creating hundreds of different aliens.

As the episode continues, the family and the community grow closer together. A consequence of this is that Jackie, after having a heart to heart with Debbie, destroys the device that was their only means of communication with their home planet. Its batteries were running low anyway, and as it turns out; charging the device manually means sacrificing a child. And really, is it worth it? Apparently not. They still have their UFO’s so they can still go home, so no worries there. The episode ends with the prediction that the two species will learn a lot from each other, and considering the lack of knowledge about human behaviors among the aliens this is bound to happen.

I liked this series. Sure, it wasn’t very deep, and perhaps the jokes were a bit lame now and then, but I didn’t expect anything different from that. I am curious as to how they will keep the episodes fresh. Sure, it’s funny that the aliens behave so strangely, but that isn’t going to be funny forever. Even the hit series ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’, the show that combined aliens and comedy so well, had to change this eventually. For ‘The Neighbors’ this might be even more of a challenge, because thanks to ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’, we’ve seen it all before.

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