By: Mary Fran Bontempo
What do Larry Bird, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus have in common?
Oh sure, there’s that whole athlete thing. But then you’d have to be talking about the real Larry Bird, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus.
I’m talking about the family of aliens that lives next door to the Weavers, the hapless humans who unknowingly move into a gated community in New Jersey seeking a better life in ABC’s new comedy, The Neighbors. There’s only one problem: everyone within the gates, aside from the Weavers, is an alien.
It seems that ten years ago, an alien ship crashed in New Jersey, fortunately right near a new development of homes. The aliens bought the entire development, intending to sit tight until word came from their home planet about how and when they could get off the third rock from the sun. (Oops, sorry, wrong show about aliens.)
The space travelers managed to stay self-contained until the appearance of the Weavers, who are unnerved, to say the least, about the weird group of people who show up, en masse, to greet the humans with pies—as is the human custom, Larry Bird, the leader of the aliens informs them. Larry then introduces his family—wife, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and sons, Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus—all named after famous Americans.
Needless to say, the aliens’ secret is soon out, thanks to the youngest alien son, Dick Butkus, who lets out his inner alien to impress his new human friends. (“Oh, dear. I think our little Dick is exposing himself again,” laments father, Larry Bird, upon hearing the shrieks of the human kids.)
The show is silly, funny and has great appeal, based in large part on the awkwardness of both the aliens and humans as they try to figure one another out. And the repetition of the athletes’ names in their entirety over and over didn’t get old, although it could. But the show has potential, and scheduled as it is at 8:30 on Wednesdays between ABC’s very funny, The Middle, and the Emmy winning, Modern Family, the odds are good that this show will be a winner. Definitely worth tuning in.
If you’re looking for something with a little more heft, check out Last Resort, the ABC drama airing Thursdays at 8.
A U.S. nuclear sub receives an order to fire on Pakistan, but the order comes via a secondary channel unauthorized to issue the directive. When the sub’s officers question the order, the ship comes under attack—from the United States Navy.
Something is very wrong, throwing the crew into turmoil as they run for their lives, moving their ship into the harbor of a small island as they try to buy time to figure out just who the bad guys are.      
The audience is left wondering as well, when scenes from government offices in Washington underscore the confusion as to exactly who is in charge of what. Someone is determined to start a war with Pakistan, but why? And what’s going on with the Navy Seals picked up by the sub in hostile waters at the program’s beginning? As for the island, what will happen to its inhabitants and where do their loyalties lie?
The show is intense and frightening, especially if you allow yourself to think such machinations are possible. A solid cast, helmed by the ever capable Andre Braugher as the sub’s captain, keeps the action believable and I’m already anticipating what’s going to happen next week.
The new television season is shaping up as having something for everyone, with enough new programs to allow viewers to avoid the endless supply of reality shows, though I will be tuning to Dancing with the Stars. I mean, handsome Frenchman, Gilles Marini, strutting his stuff again? I may not get off the couch til Christmas.