‘Sons of Tucson’ is ‘Malcolm’ take two

Anna Osipova

From left: Benjamin Stockham, Tyler Labine, Frank Dolce and Matthew Levy star in the new series, "Sons of Tuscon" on Fox. Photo courtesy of MCT.

Star Rating: 3 out of 5

Starring Tyler Labine, of “Reaper” fame, the predictable funny show offers a far-fetched story where three orphaned kids make their way to Tucson, where their father happens to have a fully-stocked, all-expenses-paid house that they move in to. Their mother is out of the picture and their father is serving a prison sentence for embezzlement. To avoid falling into the foster care system, they hire Ron Snuffkin (Labine) to pose as their dad.

Labine’s character, while amusing, isn’t a far cry from his character on “Reaper.” He is the stereotypical funny guy who has no prospects, is lazy, drinks a lot, and has to fall back on his humor because he can’t fall back on his looks. Nevertheless, he does successfully make you laugh with overused, crude jokes that remind you of countless other Fox shows, like “That 70’s Show,” “The Simpsons” and “Malcolm in the Middle.”

In fact, “Sons of Tucson” shares a number of the cast and crew with “Malcolm in the Middle,” including Todd Holland, Justin Berfield and Andy Bobrow. Holland directed both shows and is an executive producer on “Sons of Tucson” with Berfield who played Reese in “Malcolm in the Middle” and Bobrow is a writer for both shows.

The vibe of the show is similar to “Malcolm in the Middle’s” in that it’s about three kids who always find themselves in trouble. The oldest kid isn’t too bright, the middle one has the brains, and the youngest is conniving. Ron was originally hired as a onetime deal, but because the kids (Robby, Gary and Brandon Gunderson) kept getting themselves into situations where the presence of an adult was necessary, Ron ended up making a long term deal with them.

Having recently broken up with his girlfriend, the opening scene shows Ron living out of his disgusting early-1990s Ford Taurus station wagon packed to the brim with his belongings. He goes from brushing his teeth in the parking lot of the sporting goods store he works at to living in the tool shed behind the kids’ house.

Brandon, the oldest, is popular and good-looking and the type of kid who just might jump off a cliff because everyone else was doing it. Gary is the mastermind behind the whole ordeal. He is overly mature for his age and perhaps because of the circumstances, seems to have stepped into the parental role. A little bit nutty, he seems like he could be likeable, but his OCD-like tendencies are exaggerated to a turn-off. Last but not least is Robby. He is a violent and disturbed kid. In the pilot, he manages to blow up a barbeque by using camping fuel as lighter fluid at a school fair which nearly gets him expelled. Ron manages to save the day.

The show is worth watching for a couple of laughs but if you’re looking for something more than a goofy sitcom, you’ll be disappointed. The plot isn’t rousing and the comedy isn’t innovative.

After a preview of the next couple of episodes, I have my doubts as to whether the show will last past this season. It’s fine for what it is, but there are a dozen other shows that do it better. It’s missing something and the producers need to find it soon to keep viewers interested.

The show will run Sundays at 9:30 p.m. after “Family Guy.”