Saturdays at 8 p.m.
1 out of 5 stars
In their new Disney sitcom “JONAS,” bubblegum trio the Jonas Brothers follow in the footsteps of other squeaky-clean family acts like the Osmonds and the Jacksons and attempt to extend their musical domination to another medium. “JONAS,” however, won’t lead to the Jonas Brothers being classified as a triple threat any time in the near future.
Brothers Kevin, Joe and Nick mug their way through each half-hour episode with bug-eyes and wild gesticulating — cornerstones of Disney Channel acting. Unlike the other actors on the channel, however, they are past the age of puberty, making their scenery-chewing vaguely creepy instead of amusing. The boys’ questionable comedic timing is further emphasized by the lack of a laugh track, an odd choice for a tween-targeting sitcom. This makes it even more difficult to tell what parts of the show are intentionally funny. The show’s tone is a jerky mixture of straightforward comedy and moving drama. One scene shows the entire Jonas family crying “happy tears” while watching old home movies — basically it’s straight out of a “7th Heaven” rerun.
While it’s understandable that a program centered on the G-rated hijinks of a world-famous sibling boy band is not going to be terribly realistic, “JONAS” is often aggressively ridiculous. The family lives in a converted fire station complete with three metal poles, one for each brother.
One plot line involves the JoBros confusing a colander for a bowl, resulting in cake batter being poured over a box of irreplaceable home movies (that are apparently stored in the kitchen) followed by the longest discussion of the differences between a colander and a bowl ever to be aired on television. Naturally, the boys decide that they will reenact all the tapes that were ruined. While completely illogical, this twist of events provides the indelible image of a cowboy-booted, satin-short-wearing Kevin Jonas attempting to lasso a broom.
Another plot contrivance has all three brothers dressed up in full spy regalia — fedoras, monocles and fake handlebar mustaches — to stealthily attend a friend’s concert.
For better or worse, the Jonas Brothers are famous for their music, and “JONAS” fails in its attempts to incorporate this aspect of their career into the show. Other than the baffling opening credits — in which the group proclaims their “love for partying” through the medium of song — the only performances in the show come from awkwardly inserted dream sequences.
For instance, the softly-lit Brothers, dressed in matching white suits, serenade the camera as Nick’s dream girl strolls around high school classrooms outfitted in oversized angel wings. (She takes a stroll through a Vase Club meeting … havoc ensues.)
Another fantasy has the horribly green-screened Jonases dodging ladles of tomato sauce and giant mushrooms while performing a heartrending number entitled “Pizza Girl.” Despite the show’s constant declaration that the group’s musical talent is universally embraced, music plays a small role in the show — performances are only redeeming in their accidental humor.
While “JONAS” is seemingly a shrewd move on Disney’s part to increase the trio’s popularity to new heights, it ultimately works against the group. The show presents the brothers as buffoons, tarnishing some of their popstar mystique. Both the Osmonds and the Jacksons experienced decreased record sales after their television programs hit the air, and the stale, contrived “JONAS” may lead to a similar fate for the Jonas Brothers.