TV review: Sullivan & Son

From the July 19, 2012 edition

The words “TBS’s new original sitcom” make my comedy cojones shrivel up. TBS doesn’t have a particularly great track record for comedies, and even the interesting talent involved in “Sullivan & Son” — Vince Vaughn producing, former “Cheers” writer Rob Long serving as showrunner and co-writing with comedian Steve Byrne — couldn’t raise my expectations.

Steve (Byrne) is a half-Korean, half-Irish guy who’s made it away from his blue-collar Pittsburgh roots to become a big-shot New York lawyer. When he returns for his father’s (Dan Lauria, aka Kevin’s dad on “The Wonder Years”) birthday, Steve learns his dad is going to sell the family bar. So Steve buys it and moves back, and weekly multi-camera misadventures ensue.

I’m not going to completely condemn “Sullivan & Son” because it’s possible that Long and Byrne make this generic bar sitcom premise work. While the first three episodes aren’t very funny (and are actually pretty racist), there’s potential for improvement — and Lauria is always great.

Byrne is clearly writing and acting from an autobiographical point of view, and his shrill, evil Korean mother (Jodi Long) is sometimes “That ’70s Show” Red Forman funny. Other times the writing for her character is as racially insensitive as “Amos ‘n’ Andy” was. It could go either way.