'Goodwin Games' review: Sibling revelry

Three estranged siblings, from left, Henry (Scott Foley),

Three estranged siblings, from left, Henry (Scott Foley), Chloe (Becki Newton) and Jimmy (T.J. Miller) return home after the loss of their beloved father and unexpectedly find themselves poised to inherit more than $20 million -- if, and only if, they can adhere to their late father's wishes in "The Goodwin Games." (Credit: Fox)

COMEDY SERIES "The Goodwin Games"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Monday night at 8:30 on Fox/5

REASON TO WATCH Great cast, full hearts, let's play!


INTERACT: New fall TV series | Greatest TV characters

MORE: Best shows to binge-watch | TV Zone blog


WHAT IT'S ABOUT Beau Bridges does what he's good at here, playing a screw-loose guy amused by his own joke. He's the secretly rich dad of three 30-somethings who've carved out divergent lives far from his nutty New Hampshire hamlet, where he dies early on (before living on; keep reading). Eldest son Scott Foley ("Felicity," "Scandal") is an overachieving doctor whose natural reaction to his dad's death is "I'll process later." Middle kid Becki Newton ("Ugly Betty") is an underachieving actress with a gift for Morse code. Dim-bulb baby T.J. Miller ("Carpoolers") is seen getting sprung from the joint (his latest joint), in full flight from a guy called Frankie Steamroller.

Dad's devious pre-death plot propels them back to their hometown and back into elbow-in-the-ribs rivalry, with his fortune set to go to the "contestant" who aces Dad's title events -- everything from a familycentric match of Trivial Pursuit to . . .

MY SAY "I'm not at liberty to say" (an inside joke that Monday's pilot makes clear). The specifics are the specialty in this latest frothy concoction from the creators of "How I Met Your Mother," Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, plus "HIMYM" writer Chris Harris. Once again, it's got a gimmick -- Dad's money brings the siblings back together, and his videotaped "game" directives keep him in the mix -- but said twist sets the scene just fine and funky.

"Goodwin Games" is playful indeed, in well-played kid-era flashbacks and current-day vignettes that push the siblings' childhood buttons. There's not much meat in this pilot, but what's there is cherce -- as Tracy once said of Hepburn, which is neither here nor there, but which accents this show's offhand inspirations. Miller's sticky-fingered ex-con visits his tot daughter in wonderful climb-in-the-window moments. Foley drinks with his down-to-earth ex-girlfriend minister. There are intimations of other town oddities to come.

There's humor, there's heart, you'll laugh when you don't expect to. With no laugh track to cue it, you find your own way, just as these grown kids warmly re-form their family.

BOTTOM LINE Siblings who seem real. What a concept!

GRADE A-

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