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Another Bland TV Take on Southie: CBS' The McCarthys

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Boston has caught the eye of TV networks once again. As Bravo airs reality cooking contest Top Chef Boston, CBS is out with The McCarthys. The question is: Will the courtship last with a committed relationship or will this show, like the dreadful Southie Rules before it, fizzle after a few dates?

Symbology of the usual sort is thrown into the opening to establish the show's Boston cred: Fenway Park, Dunkin' Donuts, Sam Adams (the beer and the patriot), J.F.K. All to the tune of "Dirty Water," the 1966 Standells standard.

The McCarthys, a name that runs rampant through Boston's Irish veins, are a close-knit family that gathers in the parent's triple-decker somewhere in Southie (according to the brief appearance of an aerial map). The children, three brothers (one of whom is openly gay—that's important), and a sister, live within walking distance of their parents in the same neighborhood.

The opening scene in last night's premiere centered around the living room sofa, just like in other dysfunctional family sitcoms such as Married with Children and Roseanne. Roseanne is actually apropos because the family matriarch is played by Laurie Metcalf, who was Roseanne's fictional sister.

There is another legacy actor in the show: the very likable Tyler Ritter, son of the late John Ritter. He takes on the task of playing a gay son that does not share his family's sports-crazed tendencies. And Joey McIntyre, of NKOTB fame, rounds out the famous names in the cast.

So is this show funny? Yes. In an expected, traditional sitcom-y kind of way, replete with the typical one-liners, stereotypes, and cliches that abound in the first episode. I did actually laugh out loud, but The McCarthys does not demand that rapt an attention span.

If this had aired 10 years ago, it might have had a fairer shot, but TV has evolved with edgier offerings. As more traditional, light-hearted fare, there were no surprising twists in the show to speak of, except maybe the decision that Ronnie wrestles with to move to (gasp!) Providence, away from his family and Boston. But don't worry, no spoilers here...

Prediction: a few more dates on the air, unless the writers can spice up the relationship.