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Scoundrels Review: A Comedy-Drama Lacking in Both

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The career-criminals-going-straight bit has been done before, from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to The Riches, but offers terrific comedic and dramatic potential.

Unfortunately for ABC's Scoundrels, that potential was not achieved in either capacity in Sunday night's pilot. It languished somewhere in between, leaving us apathetic.

Despite Virginia Madsen's best efforts, it was hard to know whether to find the show funny or take it seriously, or even know what the producers were going for at times.

You'd like to think this was deliberate, holding us hostage emotionally and glued to our screens as we decide whether to sympathize, laugh at or loathe the characters.

But it was just kind of dull.

And Jill Came Tumbling After

Madsen brings sufficient flair to Cheryl West, the mother of a four kids who must run a family of small-time crooks alone now that her husband is doing five years' time.

The children, played by three actors (the polar opposite twin sons are actually the same guy, which is either clever or gimmicky, we can't decide), are all shady as well.

After some angry Chinese mobsters come looking for her son Cal, Cheryl decides to call it a career. This ordinary-seeming suburban family will now become ... ordinary.

It's like Weeds, only in reverse ... and not as funny.

Will these crooks really stop acting like crooks from now on? Do we want them to? To us, it feels like it's neither dramatic nor off-the-wall enough to hold our interest.

We love Madsen, and her relationship with Sgt. West, who seems to be openly hitting on her now that her husband's gone and she's gone straight, has some potential.

But when we see her sobbing in her car after visiting her husband, or daughter Heather (Sloan Sloan from Grey's Anatomy) nearly getting roofied, you don't feel bad.

This is because unlike Weeds, which is such a dark comedy that depressing reality checks can be integrated, Scoundrels tries in vain to be wacky the very next minute.

The kids are seemingly clueless, fairly likable individuals, but should we root for them? For a pilot episode, the show's mere concept was left awfully blank/ambiguous.

Perhaps this was done on purpose, but when watching a new show, you need to get sucked in by something - engaging characters, an intriguing premise ... something.

We're just not sure we found it in Scoundrels.

Review

Editor Rating: 2.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (17 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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I guess people are different. As for me I love this show and think it keeps getting better and better. I like that the mother is trying to make her life better and she does seem to get better each week and I like seeing the kids even changing. I think it is one of those feel good series. I just hope it doesn't get canceled.

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This show is utter bullshit. New Zealand has created an amazing show, Outrageous Fortune, which has been butchered by this remake. @Dino Bravo - i feel sorry for you because you believe that this show is sooo great when the fact of the matter is that in is an americanised bullshit remake of a truely fantastic show. This episode sooo booring and the characters were not at all convincing. Im a huge fan of other ABC shows but I would sit through another episode of this even if you paid me.

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Sorry.....I haven't seen the New Zealand original, nor ever even heard of it---nor do I really care..... I was watching "SCOUNDRELS" on ABC starring Virginia Madsen......And I gotta admit, I LAUGHED--a LOT!!....Like REALLY HARD!.....This show is so damn funny so I REALLY don't understand the--uhhh, "review" up above. It's like we were watching TWO completely different shows! Obviously, ABC is going for the "Desperate Housewives"/"Grey's Anatomy" crowd and--hate to burst your bubbles, guys---ABC's gonna get it! This is a HIT show that FEELS like a Hit from start to finish. And it's funny when it needs to be, and it's dramatic when it needs to be......I FREAKING LOVED IT & I LOOK FORWARD TO MORE!!!!

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This was a scene-for-scene remake of the "Outrageous Fortune" pilot sanitized for network TV. The original is so much better--I wish they would have just aired that on some cable network here. The bright spot is the actress who played the youngest daughter (she also kind of looked like her NZ counterpart).

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It is too bad that Scoundrels was made by the wrong network. Had Fox remade this New Zealand comedy classic, perhaps the brilliant, edgy adult dialogue and sexy fast paced plot could have remained untouched. Instead what ABC delivers is a dull, sanitized version with all the hillarious situations, adult language, edgy dialogue and sex removed. They also made pointless changes to the plot and dialogue that do nothing but diminish this great story. The original Outrageous Fortune is still my favorite comedy/drama of all time so this horrid remake makes me cringe.