'Rob!': Schneider's sitcom lacks laughs

rob-cbs.jpg Rob Schneider is nothing if not confident. At the Television Critics Association Winter press tour, the former " SNL" star and lead in " Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" compared his new series " Rob!" to such TV classics as " All in the Family," " Fawlty Towers" and " I Love Lucy." But how does it really stack up?

The series, which is loosely based on Schneider's own life, follows Rob ( Rob Schneider) and Maggie ( Claudia Bassols), who elope after knowing each other for a very brief period. The wrinkle comes in because Maggie is from a large Mexican family who a) don't know Rob and b) when they meet him, don't like him. And the more Rob attempts to get in their good graces, the worse it gets.

In the pilot, Maggie needs to tell her family that she ran off to Vegas and got hitched. This family features Cheech Marin as her father Fernando, Diana Maria Riva as her mother Rosa, Eugenio Derbez as her uncle Hector and Lupe Ontiveros as Abuelita. For a variety of reasons, the family doesn't respond well to Rob, and he needs to win them back. It is then that real chaos, including a scene where Rob appears to be masturbating and then having sex with Maggie's grandmother, ensues.

While these scenes are base-level comedy, it's not really this that makes "Rob!" so maddeningly bad. Where the show really suffers is with Rob's improbable cultural stupidity. The worst offending moment happens during his effort to connect with his new in-laws. To do so, Rob brings up the murder of famed Tejano singer Selena. "Selena. That was sad. So young," he says. There's also the moment in which Rob explains to Fernando that he knows what guacamole is, as if no Anglo had ever tasted the avocado-based dip before.

It's hard to figure out how CBS, which has such an impressive track record in multi-camera sitcoms, let this show through. There's no on-screen chemistry between Schneider and Bassols, the jokes are weak and the acting is forgettable. Marin, who plays a hardcore Republican, is the only saving grace of the show. It would probably be better off if it just focused on him...but it doesn't.

"Rob!" debuts Thursday (Jan. 12) at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.
Photo/Video credit: CBS