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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Family Tools is a multi-camera sitcom that draws much of its humor from the dysfunction of the central family and their friends. Two characters' sexuality is a major source of comedy -- one is a ladies man who talks about "boning" frequently, while his sister flirts nonstop with lots of innuendo. Along with some sexual language, there are also mild curses and insults. An elderly, wheelchair-bound character is the brunt of many jokes, and some of the humor uses racially tinged language or implications.
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What's the story?
In ABC's multi-camera sitcom FAMILY TOOLS, Jack Shea (Kyle Bornheimer) has tried a lot of careers: Navy SEAL, park ranger, police officer, and most recently, he's been kicked out of seminary school. His long-suffering father Tony (J.K. Simmons) thinks his son's too much of a screwup to take over his handyman business, Mr. Jiffy Fix. But when Tony suffers a heart attack, his sister Terry (Leah Remini) refuses to let the emergency responders in unless he agrees to let Jack replace him. Now Jack must share a basement room with Terry's sweet-but-awkward son Mason (Johnny Pemberton), run the business to his dad's satisfaction, and put up with snippy, horny Mr. Jiffy Fix assistant Darren and his on-the-make sister, Stitch.
Is it any good?
The actors in Family Tools are so much better than the material they're given. Viewers will certainly remember Leah Remini as the priceless wife on King of Queens, and they may very well remember J.K. Simmons as the doting dad of Juno, among other memorable roles. Given good lines, these actors will keep you in stitches, and lead Bornheimer has charm and likability to spare. Unfortunately, the stale sitcomish goings on (Terry blackmails Tony into retiring while he's on the floor having a heart attack? Really?) aren't nearly as charming.
Since Modern Family has done so well for ABC, both in the ratings and in racking up awards, it's easy to see why the network might want to launch a show that's built around another comically incompetent and non-traditional family. Unfortunately, Family Tools can't hold a candle to Modern Family, even the less-sparkling seasons. The dialogue is needlessly crude and not really that funny, the pratfalls and pranks are labored and worst of all, what should be fizzy and airy is just kinda bland and boring. Better luck next time, ABC.
Talk to your kids about ...
What sitcoms does Family Tools remind you of? How is it like those sitcoms? How is it different? Take into account characterization, music, costumes, dialogue, etc.
Watch an episode of the similarly themed 1990s sitcom Home Improvement. How does that sitcom handle a fix-it business differently than on Family Tools? Do you believe these characters are actually running a business?
Does Family Tools present characters of color differently than white characters? How?
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