All About the Andersons (WB)

Anthony Anderson is one of an increasingly common type of celebrity. He's only semi-famous at best, and you're not even quite sure why he's famous at all, yet he seems to be utterly ubiquitous across the Hollywood landscape. He's been in many more movies than I would have expected, a small percentage of which I've heard of, and even fewer that I've seen.

Lately, Anthony has begun to climb toward more starring roles … as far as one can "star" in films like Kangaroo Jack or My Baby's Daddy. So he's apparently good at sharing the lead with computer-generated animals and/or talking babies.

Clearly, landing a sitcom on the WB was the next step, as it's a par-for-the-course career move for celebrities of Anthony's caliber. He's slightly above having a show on UPN, but not up to having one on FOX, let alone the big three.

The plot of All About the Andersons wasn't exactly clear from the single episode I watched. Something along the lines of the following: he moved from L.A. to New York to pursue an acting career (?), and has recently moved back to L.A., where he's living with his parents along with his son, who looks to be about six or seven years old. There's also a token "hot chick" living with them for some reason, exactly why isn't revealed.

I was pleasantly surprised to see John Amos in the cast, playing Anthony's father. He's always been one of those character actors who possesses a level of cool that most of his peers can't match. The role of Anthony's father had to be easy for him to get into … just visualize James Evans from Good Times thirty years on—thirty years!? Damn I'm old – and you got it.

Roz Ryan, who plays Anthony's mother, is the only other notable cast member. She was on Amen! and provided the voice of one of the sassy muses in the Disney version of Hercules.

The "hot chick" role is filled by a girl named Aimee Garcia. I can't imagine she's supposed to be directly related to the family, since this episode involved a running joke about the size of her breasts, leading to lots of leering by Anthony. If she's supposed to be related, it's more than a little creepy. Perhaps better, I can't be sure.

The main plot of this episode dealt with the young son having an imaginary friend. Things break, and the imaginary friend gets blamed, so Anthony visits a child psychologist to find out if his son needs therapy. John Amos follows him there, and they get into a shouting match.

This leads the psychologist to determine that their fighting is the cause of the boy's problems. He gives them each journals in which they can write down the things that the other does to make them mad. This of course leads to a lot of hilarity, and eventually to an emotional scene of reconciliation between the two.

The kicker is that the imaginary friend isn't actually imaginary; he's actually real!

The show was much better than I expected, but it's far from anything that I'd watch on a regular basis. Anthony Anderson is naturally likable, which must be why he keeps getting movie roles. John Amos is never a bad thing, and the rest of the cast is adequate, but you get the feeling they could really shine with some better writing.

Unfortunately, they ain't gonna find it on a second-tier show on the WB. From here, I think Anthony Anderson's career can take one of two paths: either he gets a little more famous and ends up getting a breakout movie role, or he ends up staying as famous as he is now, and make do with the likes of Kangaroo Jack 2: Loose In L.A.

Review by Mario Speedwagon © 2004