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'The Millers' review: Sitcom vets make this clan a real gas

From left, Beau Bridges, Will Arnett and Margo

From left, Beau Bridges, Will Arnett and Margo Martindale in a scene from the comedy series "The Millers." Credit: AP


WHEN | WHERE Premieres Thursday night at 8:30 on CBS/2

REASON TO WATCH Great talents make great fun.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Will Arnett plays a TV reporter who does human-interest stories, which means he doesn't know squat about human behavior. So he hasn't told his retired-to-Myrtle Beach parents about his divorce. Finding out when they come to visit him and his nearby kelp-selling sister, mom Margo Martindale and dad Beau Bridges decide to get divorced, too. Where will they live?

Say, is this a sitcom?

Mom hits her sleeping pills and gets goofy at Will's place. Dad blows up the microwave at sis'. There's toenail-clipping and gas-expelling for all. The studio audience guffaws!

MY SAY Strange thing is, I'm convulsed, too. "The Millers" takes no prisoners. Martindale has honed her craft finely during 25 years of guest shots leading to her Emmy win for FX's "Justified." Bridges' mastery goes without saying. And Arnett -- so superb in the "Arrested Development" ensemble, so less-successful topping "Running Wilde" and "Up All Night" -- hits a nice niche here, reacting to old-people antics and yoga-soul sis (Jayma Mays, "Glee") plus husband (Nelson Franklin, "Veep"). As Arnett's cameraman, comic J.B. Smoove adds a bouncy banter vibe. In reserve: one chatty little niece (Eve Moon).

Tonight's pilot is produced to a tight tolerance of incessant gags, at a decibel level to sear the ears of single-camera adherents. Its humor is hardly groundbreaking -- old folks are cheap, old folks can't work the remote, there's that smell again.

But creator Greg Garcia smartly ups his studio "Yes, Dear" game (after single-camera quirkfests "My Name Is Earl" and "Raising Hope"), with clockwork staging by directing legend James Burrows.

BOTTOM LINE "The Millers" shows what a thing of glory hear-the-laughs sitcomedy can be in the hands of masters.


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