“Sons of Tucson” good for a cheap laugh

By Shayna Murphy

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The latest half hour comedy, “Sons of Tucson,” is set to premiere Sunday, March 14, at 9:30 pm. It’s just one of some new shows Fox will be premiering to establish itself as a comedic powerhouse among the other great networks, as it already has the reality TV spot covered with megahit “American Idol.”

“Sons of Tucson” is about a deadbeat with a low level job, Ron Snuffkin. He’s living in his car, no family or money to speak of, and spends his days pathologically-lying in order to get out of every responsibility he has. He’s approached by three young, troublemaking boys with absentee parents.

In order to establish themselves, and in order for Ron to get out of yet another mess he’s gotten himself into with criminals, the four guys devise a plan in which Ron pretends to be their dad, while he finally gets that elusive roof over his head.

Ron is played by Tyler Labine, known for his work in “Invasion’ and the funny “Reaper.” A veteran of mediocre half hour comedies, Labine shines in this new role. He is spot on with his comedic timing, coming off as a young man trying to con his way through life. In various, short (and by short, we’re talking seconds-long) scenes, the audience is eventually able to see that Ron has a heart, and could even learn to care for these young boys.

The Gunderson boys, ranging from about 8 to 14 years old, are played by Benjamin Stockham (Robbie), Frank Dolce (Gary) and Matthew Levy (Brandon). Through their various hijinks, they establish themselves as the dangerous youngster, the brains of the operation, and the dumb cute kid, respectively.

The crazy situations these boys get themselves into at home and school bring new meaning to the old phrase “boys will be boys.”

The young newcomers have excellent chemistry together. It seems like the new millennium’s version of “Malcolm in the Middle,” with only one level-headed and ridiculous parental figure. This comes as no surprise, seeing as former “Malcolm” star Justin Berfield is an executive producer.

Not all of the cinematography is ideal, however. In various scenes in the pilot episode, the camera shakes. While it is not violent, it is noticeable. The rock score and soundtrack that accompany the show add to the carefree nature.

Overall, it seems to be a fairly promising show. The premise is amusing and will provide for some pretty laughable storylines. Some of the jokes seem overplayed, but they are funny. And the talent of the four male leads cannot be overlooked. Stockham, as the eight year-old Robbie, will probably be the breakout star of “Sons of Tucson.” Every line and joke that comes out of his mouth is hit with near-precision.

Held against other shows in the genre, however, such as the likes of “The Office” and “30 Rock,” it simply will not stand up. It is not seem to be a classic comedy that will go on for many years and remain a cult classic, like “Friends” or “Sex and the City.” But it is a different, fresh story altogether and should not (and cannot) be compared. The timeslot it is slated to be in, however, is an untapped comedic time period.

With a redneck grandma, an irresponsible father figure, a beautiful teacher and three loony boys running around, “Sons of Tucson” is sure to garner a few laughs. If all else fails, at least give Sunday’s pilot a chance. Seeing a slightly overweight grown man ride a little girl’s tiny pink bike is always a reliable, if cheap, laugh.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]