There is a problem in television (and film) where people get typecast after a strong performance in a particular role and they are stuck with offers for the same sort of characters for, potentially, the rest of their career. But, is it still a problem when you’re creating the same characters for yourself year after year? If Adam Sandler can break records while making uninspired movies with his friends, I am sure Kevin James can find some modicum of success doing the same on television with Kevin Can Wait.
Even if you haven’t watched Kevin Can Wait before reading this review, I am still fairly certain you can picture the cast of the series with little use of your imagination. Kevin James plays the titular character, Kevin, an ex-cop looking to have a little fun now that he’s retired; unfortunately, it seems like family life is going to get in the way.
During the pilot, Kevin’s family is mostly brushed over in favor of focusing on his relationship with his wife, of course, but also his eldest daughter, Kendra (Taylor Spreitler). Kendra is introduced halfway through the episode as a point of conflict for Kevin and his wife, Donna (Erinn Hayes), to deal with for what I can only imagine to be the rest of the series. As Kendra makes her appearance at her father’s retirement party to introduce them to her boyfriend (Ryan Cartwright) and to tell them they aren’t just dating, they are engaged. Perfect.
There are also a few familiar faces for Kevin James fans in his group of buddies, including Gary Valentine who you might know as James’s real-life brother. Well, he’s his brother in the show, too. I’m kind of surprised he didn’t just call him Gary in the show since James got to use his real name.
“Everything was in place, Kendra was going to blaze through law school, Jack and Sara were going to do something … I don’t know. Now, the guys are bailing on me and it’s all falling apart.”
Kevin lays out the conflict of the series pretty succinctly during a pivotal moment for the pilot—retirement isn’t going to be the long-term vacation that he had expected. It is clear by the first episode that Kevin is going to have to put his retirement on hold and take care of his family now that his eldest daughter is getting married and moving back into the house. Not to mention that the struggles that will arise from a soon-to-be-married couple trying to grow as a couple while still living underfoot Kevin and Donna.
Let’s just hope Kevin and Kendra’s fiancé can learn to enjoy spending time together.
There isn’t anything fresh about Kevin Can Wait. It doesn’t feel like the series brings anything to the table that couldn’t be accomplished by watching reruns of King of Queens. I am left asking myself why I should bother watching a show that constantly has me shrugging off the nagging sensation of déjà vu—but, after spending some time thinking about it, I have an answer.
There is something comfortable about watching a run-of-the-mill sitcom with familiar faces that I think appeals to a lot of casual television consumers (as well as the connoisseurs) from time to time. When plenty of promising pilots with fresh perspectives struggle to tread water in today’s television landscape, it makes sense for television creators to want to make something tried and true—because they know there is a viewership for it and after folks at home try show after floundering show, it makes just as much sense for them to flock to something like Kevin Can Wait.
As a generic sitcom, it’s hard to see this show taking any drastic turns off of the path it has laid down in its first episode. Kevin Can Wait will probably last a few seasons on CBS, quietly paying the bills for James and the other cast members until it is unceremoniously cancelled without much of a fuss being made in or out of the show.
I don’t believe the show will see a “proper” ending, but I do think progress will be made between Kevin and his soon-to-be son-in-law. One way or another, Kevin will learn that there is something to be celebrated about their differences and I predict we’ll get to watch Kendra’s wedding as the finale for season two after some struggles with their living situation have been resolved (most likely, right before the ceremony).
Kevin Can Wait is an inoffensive sitcom that doesn’t deserve your time if you’ve only got the time to watch the best of the best each season. However, if you’re looking for something to kick back and half watch while you’re winding down after a long day, you could probably do much worse than Kevin Can Wait.
If you’re interested in the series, Kevin Can Wait airs Mondays at 8:30 PST. If you’d like to see what else Daniel is watching, you can check his Trakt page to keep up-to-date with all of his shows.