A time honored tradition during the holidays is the choice between a saccharine sweet “Miracle on 34th Street,” or, on the other side of the spectrum, “Die Hard.” This year FOX is delivering a bite-size option for the television crowd that is sure to satisfy those in the middle: “The Moodys.”
This limited series opens with mom Ann (Elizabeth Perkins) declaring war on the holiday by shooting a BB gun at ornaments on the tree and shouting “Christmas is cancelled!” An attempt to grab an audience by a lesser premiere could be seen as low hanging fruit. But, in the case of “The Moodys” it sets the tone for what is to come in the show’s six episode run.
Dennis Leary and Elizabeth Perkins play a married couple whose three adult children come to visit for Christmas. What takes place over the holiday is dysfunction, drama and devotion.
Sean Jr. (Jay Baruchel), Bridget (Chelsea Frei) and Dan (François Arnaud) are said children and each come with their own set of issues. Sean Jr. is the dreamer and eldest of the Moodys. His refusal to grow up and move out provides a lot of fodder for the parents. Bridget is the over-achieving daughter whose perfect life comes to a screeching halt when she dismounts her high horse by choice and is forced to be with the family 24/7. Dan is the youngest and comes home sans girlfriend to a disappointed mom and a life that he has avoided for some time.
“The Moodys” are co-captained by Sean Sr. (Leary) and Ann (Perkins). Together they steer this chaotic ship while managing their own heavy issues. The duo anchor to the show as only acting veterans can. They add a certain comfort and reliability that can only be delivered by actors of their caliber and experience. Audiences will quickly feel bonded and invested in this family. Viewers won’t get a single curse word from Leary. Instead, what they will get is a warm-hearted and softer side of Leary.
Add to that a cast of supporting characters who deliver some of the funniest moments on screen since the Jack and Karen in the first season of “Will and Grace.” There is the quintessential Uncle, the over-the-top dopey cousin Monty (Josh Segarra), and the long time family friend Big Stan (Kwasi Songui). Even an old yellow lab is there to add to this quirky cast of characters.
Yes, you will get predictable storylines (they are predictable for a reason — folks love them and they work). And yes, you will get a family dynamic that is incredibly familiar to television. But, you will also get some of the best timed pacing of a show that feels more like it’s in its fourth or fifth season. The season does not end with a gorgeous red bow and wrapped perfectly under the tree. But, hopefully, what you will find is a family that you’ll want to see more of. One that you hope will come back again for all the holidays and big family occasions — perhaps even a wedding or two.