Dysfunctional family drives ‘Working the Engels’
Forget the Ides of March; it’s July of which you should beware, particularly when it comes to sitcoms premiering during the summer months. There’s usually a reason these shows are being “burned off” during TV’s least-watched season.
But hey, it’s better than watching another “Modern Family” repeat, right? And, at least NBC’s new sitcom, “Working the Engels,” boasts the talents of the talented and always-watchable “SCTV” alum Andrea Martin.
So take it for what it’s worth — an amiable, time-passing place holder until the fall season kicks in.
The setup here has the (predictably) dysfunctional Engels thrown for a loop after the sudden death of the family patriarch, a respected lawyer. His legacy is a $200,000 debt he’s left to his demonstrative, tippling wife Ceil (Martin) and her three grown-yet-emotionally stunted kids: Oldest daughter Sandy (Azura Skye), a wifty, spoiled ex-pill popper; Jenna (Kacey Rohl), the “sensible one,” whose law degree is being wasted in a demeaning job at a law firm run by a boss-from-hell; and ne’er-do-well son Jimmy (Benjamin Arthur), a dim-witted man-child and petty criminal who, naturally, is mom’s favorite.
After visiting her late dad’s office to clear up some paperwork, Jenna encounters some of his clients and — before you can say “epiphany!” — decides that she’s found her true life’s calling. Never mind that she has virtually no legal experience; she’ll pick up where her father left off and make the old (dead) guy proud by running the Engel law firm and digging her family out of its financial sinkhole. So she tells off her boss, quits her humiliating job (in grand style) and enlists Ceil, Sandy and Jimmy in her new endeavor.
And that’s really all you need to know about “Working the Engels.” The show moves along at a nice clip, the cast is pleasant, given the predictability of their sitcom-y characters, and they mesh nicely as an ensemble — notable since Rohl, Skye and Arthur are relative newcomers to series TV.
While Arthur has a long list of Canadian TV credits, Skye was a lead in the old WB sitcom “Zoey, Duncan, Jack and Jane” (1999-2000) and Rohl has appeared in “Hannibal” and “The Killing.”
If “Working the Engels” proves to be just a summer fling, at least it was nice while it lasted.
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