Kevin Can Wait – New Kevin James returns to the sitcom with this CBS family comedy set and filmed in Long Island, NY
Any enjoyment viewers find in “Kevin Can Wait” is going to be contingent on their affinity for its lead and executive producer, Kevin James. The new CBS sitcom does have some non-James appeals —Erinn Hayes, who stars opposite James as his wife, is delightful — but the show is stamped with its star’s trademarks, from the stylings of his punchlines to the aesthetics of the living room couch.
Love it or hate it, James’ brand is recognizable, reliable, and — clearly — bankable. He’s been playing the schlub with a heart of (mostly) gold since 1996, when he first started appearing on “Everybody Loves Raymond”; in 1998, his character, Doug, was spun off to his own show, “The King of Queens”— which, like its parent show, ran for nine seasons. That role catapulted him to mainstream recognition. Doug Heffernan was blue-collar, slightly selfish, and prone to overeating; a family man set in his ways who could usually be cajoled around to compromise by the end of a half-hour episode. His style of humor was as much about physical comedy and self-mockery as it is about mildly taking the piss out of his family. And most importantly, Doug embodied the last remnants of a fading version of masculinity, where it went without saying that husbands and wives had certain distinct roles.
Indeed, James’ sweet spot as a comic personality is playing a slightly updated Ralph Kramden: “The King Of Queens” was an homage to the ’50s sitcom “The Honeymooners,” with its traditional gender roles and working-class storylines. So it’s fitting that after spending the last few years starring in features, James returns to this type, the sitcom format, and CBS, with “Kevin Can Wait.”
This time out, he’s playing a retired cop about to embark on golden years of go-carting, paintballing, and drinking beer with his buddies. But in the pilot, his daughter Kendra (Taylor Spreitler) declares she’s dropping out of school and getting married to her unemployed hipster boyfriend, Chale (Ryan Cartwright), a wannabe app developer. As the series goes forward, the idea is for Kevin to discover that retirement doesn’t mean he can merely be selfish for his remaining years; now that he’s not working all the time, he has to catch up on his family.