'9JKL': Whose life is this anyway?

Posted 10/2/17

By Kevin McDonough  Whenever I hear that a comedy is based on its star's "real life," I'm all but certain that it will stink. And sitcoms don't come much riper than "9JKL" (8:30 p.m., CBS, …

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'9JKL': Whose life is this anyway?


By Kevin McDonough

Whenever I hear that a comedy is based on its star's "real life," I'm all but certain that it will stink. And sitcoms don't come much riper than "9JKL" (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

Mark Feuerstein stars as Josh, a TV star whose show ("Blind Cop") is canceled the same year his wife leaves him, taking all his money and possessions. Forced to return home to New York, he finds shelter in an apartment right next door to his smothering mother, Judy (Linda Lavin), and way-too-familiar father, Harry (Elliott Gould).

His folks have never had an unexpressed thought, and their banter is shot through with excruciatingly detailed recollections of Josh's childhood and stream-of-consciousness musings on sex, anatomy, bathroom habits, etc. In short, Judy and Harry are extreme, even grotesque, exaggerations of Jewish meddler stereotypes that have been a staple of comedy for decades. Feuerstein's "life" seems based on ancient Catskills shtick.

If Josh's family, including his surgeon brother, Andrew (David Walton), and his doctor sister-in-law, Eve (Liza Lapira), weren't cloying enough, he's continually haunted by a precocious 12-year-old neighbor, Ian (Albert Tsai), who thinks nothing of offering him career advice and critiquing his TV roles.

In the old days, such schmaltzy tales of suffocating family might be set in some Eastern European village or crowded city neighborhood. The doorman apartment of "9JKL" comes complete with a balcony that overlooks Manhattan. Such is Josh's plight.

There's a running gag in the series about Josh's terrible canceled show. How bad is "9JKL"? I'd rather watch "Blind Cop."

• Don't mess with teenagers with secret, hidden powers. That's the gist of the dark and often disturbing new series "The Gifted" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

A variation on the "X-Men" franchise, it's set in a world where mutants are seen as a collective menace by police and frequently incarcerated, forcing like-minded freaks to join together and learn about their powers, while never seeming to ponder why all of them are good-looking teenagers.

This very familiar story gets more complicated when it turns out that an anti-mutant prosecutor has two gifted children in his own family.

Not unlike the DC Comics-based "Gotham," this series takes place in near-continual darkness, as if mere sunlight might reveal the shallow, adolescent nature of this overheated nonsense.

In one scene, a boy being bullied during a school dance finds his inner mutant and all but destroys the building, sending hundreds of classmates scurrying to survive. Is this "Carrie"? Or Columbine?

• The new series "Extreme Hotels" (9 p.m., Travel) opens with a look at lodges where ghosts have yet to check out.

• Also in the hospitality business, the period costume drama "The Halcyon" (10 p.m., Ovation) is set in a posh London hotel in 1940 as society types adjust to a world at war.


• Blind auditions continue on "The Voice" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).

• One heck of a hangover on the third season premiere of "Lucifer" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

• The fate of mankind hangs in the balance (again) on "Scorpion" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

• A Russian adventure on "The Brave" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• Awkward first impressions on "The Good Doctor" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).

• Athletes on the autism spectrum form their own squad on the "POV" documentary "Swim Team" (10 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings).


Society gossip plays havoc with marriages and lives in the 1939 comedy "The Women" (12:30 a.m., TCM), directed by George Cukor and starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell.


A face for radio on "The Big Bang Theory" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * "Dancing With the Stars" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14) * Superman returns on "Supergirl" (8 p.m., CW, r, TV-14) * The second time around on "Kevin Can Wait" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Illusionists audition on the season finale of "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" (9 p.m., CW, TV-PG) * Ankle deep in the dating pool on "Me, Myself & I" (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).


Robin Thede is booked on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" (11 p.m., Comedy Central) * Marsai Martin and Grouplove appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman and Miley Cyrus on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Michael Strahan, Justin Hartley, Tash Sultana and Gene Hoglan visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC) * Debra Messing, Jay Pharoah and The Shins appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS).

© 2017, United Feature Syndicate