TV Land, like all cable networks these days, is chafing at its very premise. Conceived as a repository of classic TV shows—from “Bonanza” to “The Andy Griffith Show” to “I Dream of Jeannie”—the channel now wants to get in on all the cheap reality shows and easy-to-produce sitcoms of rival networks. Having broken new sitcom ground with the popular “Hot in Cleveland,” TV Land has now unveiled a companion piece in the similarly sitcomy “Retired at 35.”
Like “Hot in Cleveland,” “Retired at 35” relies heavily on the already established televisual personalities of its stars—in this case, George Segal (“Just Shoot Me!”) and Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”). Segal and Walter play the parents of David Robbins (Johnathan McClain), the 35-year-old whose retirement is presaged in the title. David is a workaholic executive at some big New York company (which hilariously—
“Retired at 35” is formulaic in the extreme. Like “Hot in Cleveland,” the laughs all derive from the awkward setup / obvious punch line style that drove sitcoms from the ’60s through the ’80s. All you need here is a couch, three cameras and some double entendres. Take an old “Three’s Company” script, cut out the dated “gay” jokes and insert a few hip “cougar” jokes and you’d hardly know the difference—which, I suppose, is a roundabout way of saying “Retired at 35” will probably be a big hit.
Like McDonald’s food or “Two and a Half Men,” the show is so easily digested that it appeals to a wide demographic range. McClain is an indistinct actor who has guested on a number of TV dramas, and he doesn’t do a lot to distinguish himself on the first couple of episodes. Segal does his usual wacky dude schtick and plays the banjo a lot. Walter, meanwhile, puts some bite into her red-hot mama role. The result, if not exactly groundbreaking, is at least comfortingly familiar. That, I suppose, is TV Land’s goal. Clearly, a network that’s still milking “The Beverly Hillbillies” isn’t looking for the next “Mr. Show.” They’re looking for more of the same. And “Retired at 35” is definitely that.