When, earlier this summer, the networks released trailers for their upcoming fall shows, no series was more scathingly received than ABC's offbeat new sitcom The Neighbors. (Watch the trailer below.) The Neighbors follows a dysfunctional family that moves into a new home and discovers that their seemingly human neighbors are, in fact, Zabrovnians from the planet Zabrov who do things like shake thumbs instead of hands, keep llamas as pets, and throw dishes out the window instead of washing them. Many pegged The Neighbors as a sure bet for early cancelation. But after the series' first episode aired Wednesday night, something stranger than thumb-shaking happened: Some critics admitted that they actually like it. Why are so many people changing their tune about ABC's bizarre new alien sitcom?
The Neighbors has heart: "It is with mild trepidation that I admit that I didn't hate The Neighbors. In fact, I'm sort of rooting for it," says Jill Slattery at Zimbio. The series' silliness and penchant for slapstick humor was clear from the trailer, but surprisingly, The Neighbors "also shows potential for real heart" as it draws parallels between the problems of the humans and the aliens to show that "we're really not that different." At a time when most sitcoms seem interchangeable, The Neighbors is courageously attempting true novelty. Its oddball charms won't work on everyone, but "give it a try before you dismiss it entirely as the worst piece of crap ever to besmirch your televisions screens."
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The Neighbors is funny: "The Neighbors made me laugh. A lot," confesses Matt Zoller Seitz at Vulture. Even if the pilot's attempts to draw parallels between the humans and aliens feel half-baked, The Neighbors is packed with enough wacky, laugh-out-loud jokes to make up for it. At its core, The Neighbors is less a conventional sitcom than "a comedy playpen, a place for slapstick, bad puns, and actors' riffs." If it can survive long enough, The Neighbors might eventually find an audience with its "swing-for-the-fences" moments.
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The Neighbors is family-friendly:"The Neighbors is an enjoyable, broad comedy that encourages co-viewing among parents and their children," says Rob Owen at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "How many primetime shows do that?" The Neighbors hearkens back to a bygone age of family-friendly viewing by offering "a mix of ALF and 3rd Rock From the Sun with a dash of Dinosaurs thrown in for good measure." It may not be the best sitcom on TV, but by filling a niche that sorely needed filling, the series deserves "a neighborly welcome to primetime."
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