Duncanville, Fox’s newest addition to the Sunday night animated block, isn’t out to reinvent the wheel. Created by Amy Poehler and The Simpsons‘ Mike Scully and Julie Thacker Scully, the show blends right into the cartoon comedy scene already populated by The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, and Family Guy, and it doesn’t seem to mind bringing us more of the same snickers. In fact, that’s kind of its thing.
Duncanville follows Duncan (voiced by Poehler), a 15-year-old who is perfectly ordinary and unremarkable, save for a few wild dreams, and his family is just as basic as him, if not more so. His mom, Annie (also voiced by Poehler), is the quintessential worried mother, while his dad, Jack (voiced by Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell), is well-meaning but also wrapped up in his own interests, including his bustling classic rock collection and his all-consuming fear of becoming his own disappointing father. Duncan also has two younger sisters, Kimberly (Riki Lindhome) and Jing (Joy Osmanski), and a handful of friends at school who help him through the trials of being a teenager, so he doesn’t even have the distinction of being lonely at home or an outcast among his peers. He’s just a simple boy living in a simple family who faces simple problems, even if it doesn’t feel that way to him.
Beyond its rote animated family sitcom set-up, Duncanville doesn’t bother to go against the grain much with its plotlines, either — at least not the ones from the handful of episodes screened for critics. This isn’t a bold exposé of the pratfalls of puberty à la Big Mouth, and you won’t find much of the snark and four-letter word usage sewn into shows like Family Guy and F Is for Family, either. Instead, it’s what would happen if Bob’s Burgers was built completely around a less awkward Tina Belcher. Duncan is shown dealing with situations like learning to drive a car and competing with his sister over a video game tournament, while his family is consumed by even more menial tasks, like clearing out the garage.
Still, there’s respectable talent behind the scenes of Duncanville who help to make it just punchy enough to avoid being labeled as filler (or as a Bless the Harts placeholder) as it slides into Fox’s Sunday night lineup. You shouldn’t go into Duncanville expecting to see something groundbreaking or shocking, but it’s still a cozy enough way to tune out the bitterness of the world for half an hour or so. Duncanville is not a show we needed, exactly, but it’s still a completely harmless addition to the genre that features some voices we always enjoy hearing.
Duncanville premieres Sunday, Feb. 16 at 8:30/7:30c on Fox.
TV Guide Rating: 3/5