There has always been a place in the world of television for drippy, overly moralistic and highly implausible sitcoms. They are a staple of the American TV diet. But it is possible for this kind of show to go too far, failing to balance the sappy and the funny. “Lost at Home” is not just unbalanced; so much plot is packed into its first episode that the rest of the series seems unnecessary.

Todd Weiser
Courtesy of ABC

Adman Michael Davis (Mitch Rouse, “Strangers with Candy”) has been working long hours for several years, putting his career ahead of his family to the point where he doesn’t even know them anymore. When his wife, Rachel (Connie Britton, “Spin City”), threatens him with a divorce, he must rethink his priorities.

Realizing that his family is indeed the most important thing in his life, he springs into action, asking his boss and best friend, Jordan (Broadway star Gregory Hines), if he can stop working long hours and try to save the broken relationship with his family.

Despite a very talented cast, “Lost at Home” is bogged down by overly sentimental scenes and all-too-easy resolutions to the show’s main conflict. The first episode is filled mostly with melodrama that would only fly on a show like “7th Heaven.” When the wit of the show does peek out – which is not nearly often enough – it can be really funny. It’s just not worth suffering through numerous unbelievable scenes where the charismatic Michael smoothly pieces his family together with minimal effort.

After years of being absent from his family’s life, he returns as some kind of “Superdad” – knowing all the right things to say and do to reconnect with his kids.

It is impossible to suspend disbelief for this show. In one scene, Rachel informs Michael that their youngest son, Joshua (Gavin Fink), tries to be a perfect little boy in order to make him feel worth coming home to. No problem for “Superdad.” He cooks up a scheme involving reverse psychology to make Joshua realize that he doesn’t have to be perfect for Dad to love him.

Patching things up with his daughter, Sara (Leah Pipes), is also a breeze. Michael just asks her best friend, Tucker (Aaron Hill), to tell him everything she likes. They talk over a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and it appears that all wounds are healed.

The first episode of “Lost at Home” spoils a premise that had potential by seemingly resolving the conflict in less than 30 minutes. It is hard to imagine where the show can go from here. At the end of one episode, Michael is already on better terms with his wife and all three of his kids. What’s left to do? “Lost at Home” will need more than a map and compass to get out of the hole it has dug itself into.

2 Stars

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