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Reviewed by Will Harris
hen Bullz-Eye reviewed the first season of “My Wife and Kids,” we opened with a lengthy “damn, it’s hard bein’ a sitcom on ABC” rant, where we went on and on about how the network’s “TGIF” line-up from the ‘80s had killed their credibility as a place to go for comedy. Since then, the curse has been broken, thanks to the trifecta of “The Middle,” “Modern Family,” and “Cougar Town,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t still take this opportunity to praise one of our favorite shows that’s often shrugged off by hipper critics.
Season Two of “My Wife and Kids” followed approximately the same format as Season One, though there was at least one notable change amongst the kids: Claire, the eldest daughter, was no longer being played by Jazz Raycole. Stepping into the character’s shoes was Jennifer Freeman, giving Damon Wayans – who plays Michael, the patriarch of the Kyle family – the opportunity to make the inevitable joke about how he doesn’t know what she’s changed about herself but that she looks completely different.
There’s one more absence for the first several episodes, and it’s one that no doubt required some considerable rewrites: Tisha Campbell-Martin, who gave birth right around the beginning of Season Two. Although they managed to find a way to utilize her in the season premiere by incorporating a flashback to the birth of youngest child Kady (Parker McKenna Posey), it would be several episodes before she made her way back to work, necessitating the unexpected development that her character, Jay, would be on a business trip for six weeks. How convenient. Still, it made for a few fun plots around Michael having to play the role of a single dad, and kudos go to Campbell-Martin for her willingness to poke fun at her residual baby weight in her first episode back.
In its second season, “My Wife and Kids” continued to offer a great deal of spot-on material about marriage and raising a family, even touching on the trials of growing older by introducing Michael to the wonderful world of colonoscopies. (You haven’t lived ‘til you’ve seen the exam given by Dr. Lou Rawls.) There are a number of storylines about Claire’s teenage rebellion and Kady’s youthful naiveté, but the least effective child still remains Junior (George O. Gore II), who provides a seemingly never-ending series of “you’re so stupid” jokes but not a great deal else. The show doesn’t utilize guest stars on a regular basis, and when they do, it often feels forced, as with Shaquille O’Neal and Gary Coleman in the two-part season premiere, but it’s fun that they’ve given Michael a nemesis, played by the always-great Larry Miller.
Ultimately, it’s the relationship between Michael and Jay which makes for the best comedy, and when it touches on familiar topics and scenarios, it’s hilarious. Unfortunately, though, there’s more of a tendency this season for Wayans to be more ridiculous with his character, and that’s a shame: the reality of Season One was what made it so enjoyable.
Special Features: Clearly, Lionsgate is not reading our site. In the Season One review, we laid it on the line and said that the set would’ve gotten a 4-star review if they’d bothered to make even the slightest attempt at providing bonus material. So what do they give us for Season Two? The same bare-boned treatment. Boo, hiss, etcetera.