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Holidays and Family Dysfunction Isn't a New Idea, but 'The Moodys' Make it Enjoyable to Watch
December 4, 2019  | By David Hinckley
 


The Moodys
, a holiday-themed show that launches this week on Fox, might be described as a sitcom miniseries.

And it kind of works.

The Moodys, which premieres with two half-hour episodes at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday and then wraps up with similar twofers on Dec. 9 and 10, tells a closed-end story about an amusingly dysfunctional family stumbling through an amusingly dysfunctional Christmas.

While it's based on an Australian series, it has been thoroughly Americanized. It's also not out of the question that if we viewers decide we like the Moodys, they could return in the future.

For now, however, we are scheduled only for Christmas with the Moodys, headed by patriarch Sean Moody Sr. (Denis Leary) and his wife Ann (Elizabeth Perkins).

Their oldest son, perpetual screwup Sean Jr. (Jay Baruchel), already lives with them in their suburban New England home despite closing in on middle age.

But their Christmas celebration is expanding this year with the return of daughter Bridget (Chelsea Frei), a lawyer and chronic overachiever, and second son Dan (Francois Arnaud), whose success at his career has not been matched by his success in relationships.

Things start with Ann hoping this will be a dream Christmas because it's been a while since the Moodys had one of those.

Unfortunately, living the dream involves concealing more secrets and telling more lies than this unfiltered clan is capable of doing for more than five minutes.

When Dan arrives, for instance, he sees the big sign over the door welcoming "Dan and Ali," his girlfriend. That makes it awkward for Dan to tell everyone that Ali dumped him over his reluctance to commit. So he just says she had a family health emergency.

That isn't the first or biggest lie to get floated and quickly sink. At times it seems like the main thing holding the Moodys together is the hard work of deception, and lest that sound all grim and serious, it's not. Well, it is. But it's also funny.

The Moodys seem to be a buoyant bunch, unfazed by whatever stupid things they did yesterday.

Leary plays, well, Leary, an outgoing and basically decent fellow whose confidence outruns his competence. Perkins plays an impetuous Mom who miscalculates on matters like oversharing in her attempts to recreate the Mom she was when the kids were, say, 6.

The Moodys also have a whole army of second-level relatives – cousins and the like – who bring their own quirks when Ann invites them all over for holiday merriment.

Random example: Cousin Marcos (Josh Segarra), who has always been close with Dan, brings along his girlfriend Cora (Maria Gabriela de Faria). Marcos can be kind of a self-centered jerk, it turns out, and while he's off promoting himself, Cora and Dan are quickly and closely drawn together.

If you think all their uncomfortable little situation needs is the sudden appearance of Ali, then you have been paying attention.

The Moodys doesn't go where no sitcom has gone before. It features awkward relationships and consistently bad decisions among and by people with whom we generally sympathize.

Because it's a Denis Leary show, it has a significant hockey component.

The idea of a sitcom storyline having a short, finite path to some sort of finish line, however, does set it apart.

By the end, The Moodys feels a lot like the kind of character comedy that Hollywood doesn't produce anymore. That makes it a pleasant and welcome surprise.

 
 
 
 
 
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