ABC defends WTF alien sitcom 'The Neighbors'

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Every season there’s one show that critics start piling on long before it premieres. This round it’s ABC’s The Neighbors, the aliens-next-door sitcom that has inspired the entertainment industry and viewers to exclaim a collective “WTF?!”

I suspect viewers will rate a few other new broadcast comedies this fall as far worse (such as ABC’s Malibu Country*). The Neighbors is not without cleverness, and sure doesn’t lack for ambition. I’ve found a few defensive-sounding fans of the pilot out there (not me, but others). The whole premise is just so … so … goofy, and such a throwback to old school sitcoms like 3rd Rock from the Sun and Alf, that it’s more jarring as a concept than it is terrible as a show (if that make sense). Naturally, ABC entertainment president Paul Lee is one of the fans.

“I love The Neighbors,” he told critics at their semi-annual press tour in Beverly Hills. “I know there’s some issues in the room about the high-concept nature of the show.”

ABC originally planned to air The Neighbors at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday nights after its biggest comedy, Modern Family. But after a couple months of industry disbelief about that strategy, ABC recently decided to give the show a Modern Family lead-in after its premiere, then move the show  to an hour earlier.

“I thought 8:30 p.m. suited the show better, ” Lee said. “I did want to protect it … there’s so much pressure [to perform] after Modern Family … I’m much more comfortable where it is.”

For those who haven’t seen the trailer, here it is:

*Not to pile on ABC’s new shows. Dramas Nashville, Last Resort and Red Widow are all great, and 666 ain’t too shabby either.


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