WHAT IT’S ABOUT Colt (Ashton Kutcher) is a washed-out semipro football player who has returned to his father Beau’s (Sam Elliott) ranch in Colorado in this multicamera comedy. Beau and Colt had a long-ago falling out, and now it’s time for a father-son reunion. Maybe. Beau is not so easy to get along with, and he’s estranged from his wife, Maggie (Debra Winger), who runs the local bar. Meanwhile, Colt’s brother, Jameson “Rooster” (Danny Masterson) observes the fireworks with amusement.
MY SAY “The Ranch” is further proof Netflix has a huge and growing pipeline and — darn it — that huge and growing pipeline better have lots of product moving through it. Pushing some of that product are big names welded to familiar concepts, or very familiar in the case of reboots (including “Fuller House” followed by “Gilmore Girls” later this year).
But think of this newcomer as the Frankenstein of reboots, with body parts from many shows sewn together. Blink and you’ll think Walden Schmidt from “Two and a Half Men” has come back to haunt us. Blink harder and this turns into “That ’70s Show” reunion we’ve all been waiting for, with only Kutcher (Kelso) and Masterson (Steven Hyde) reprising their roles. Don’t even bother blinking when good ol’ sturdy and reliable Sam Elliott is on-screen: He’ll just remind you of Sam Elliott, and that’s good enough.
Frankenstein reboots also tend to be critic-proof, and that’s a good thing as far as “The Ranch” is concerned because most critics will likely hate this. But “The Ranch” isn’t hateable as much as just bone-weary. It’s a by-the-dots, or the numbers — whichever are easiest to connect — sitcom that proceeds according to formula. Elliott’s a pleasure as the tough dad with a good heart, who says his lines like he’s pouring syrup over grits. Kutcher remains an acquired taste, and if you haven’t acquired it yet, don’t expect to here.
But someone out there will like this show. Just don’t be shocked if you aren’t that someone.
BOTTOM LINE A sitcom we’ve seen before except this one contains words that would never get past the network censor.