The Jim Gaffigan Show Wednesdays, 10 p.m., TV Land.
When TV Land first started creating its own original series, the network known for reruns aired shows that felt like ready-made reruns, throwback sitcoms like Hot in Cleveland, Retired at 35 and The Exes, shot in a multi-camera format in front of a studio audience and starring actors with plenty of sitcom experience. But now that the network is attempting to rebrand itself for a slightly younger, slightly edgier audience, it’s moving away from multi-camera shows with overbearing audience laughter. New sitcom The Jim Gaffigan Show sort of splits the difference between the old TV Land style and the somewhat fresher, more sophisticated style of shows like the surprisingly entertaining Younger.
It’s a single-camera show without a laugh track, but the premise is entirely old-fashioned. Gaffigan plays a fictionalized version of himself, a stand-up comedian who lives in New York City with his wife Jeannie (Ashley Williams) and five young children in a two-bedroom apartment. The show’s Jim is a typical sitcom dad, a lovable doofus who can’t complete basic household tasks and always needs his wife’s permission to do anything. He hangs out with his typical sitcom best friend (Adam Goldberg), a cynical single dude who’s always hitting on women and wondering how Jim could possibly be happy with a wife and kids. The show’s storylines involve typical sitcom scenarios like mixing up important deliveries and scheduling two important events at the same time.
Gaffigan does draw on his stand-up connections to bring in other comedians to guest-star as themselves, and the best episode of the ones available for review involves some fairly biting commentary on manufactured media controversies. But the show is far more Everybody Loves Raymond than Louie, more interested in Jim’s cuddly, comfortable home life than in pushing any boundaries or telling new kinds of stories. It’s a rarity in modern TV for prominently incorporating Gaffigan’s Catholic faith, but the family that attends church regularly is a sitcom convention even older than most TV Land reruns. Gaffigan’s show was originally developed for CBS, and it has the safe, middle-of-the-road quality of most CBS sitcoms, which makes it just right for TV Land’s mild reinvention.