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Television Review

TV Land’s ‘Retired at 35’ gets old quickly

Johnathan McClain (left) plays a son who comes home and lives with his father (played by George Segal) in “Retired at 35.’’ Johnathan McClain (left) plays a son who comes home and lives with his father (played by George Segal) in “Retired at 35.’’ (TV Land)
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / January 19, 2011

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"Hot in Cleveland’’ returns for season 2 tonight with Betty White in a prison cell playing harmonica and singing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.’’ “Hey, Fresh Meat, pipe down,’’ her surly cellmate warns her and — OMTVG! — it’s Mary Tyler Moore. By the end of the bit, Moore has sampled Lou Grant’s famous line from the premiere of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show’’: “I hate spunk.’’

The scene, the only one featuring Moore, is a classic-TV nano-rush, as the two “Moore Show’’ alums create a brief moment. It’s the best thing TV Land’s popular old-school laugh-track sitcom “Hot in Cleveland,’’ at 10 p.m., has to offer: former sitcom giants Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, Valerie Bertinelli, and White knocking a puck around, back on the vaudeville circuit.

Don’t ask me what “Retired at 35’’ has to offer. TV Land’s new companion sitcom for “Hot in Cleveland’’ is a piece of brash nonsense that, with jokes featuring older people talking about “Facialbook’’ and “texturizing,’’ seems like it was written to target people who died about 30 years ago. Worse, the show that “Retired at 35’’ most closely resembles is one of this season’s least welcome newcomers, CBS’s “$#*! My Dad Says.’’ “Retired,’’ which premieres tonight at 10:30, is “$#*! My Dad and Mom Say.’’

George Segal is the dad, Alan, who lives with his wife, Elaine (Jessica Walter) in a Florida retirement community. They barely tolerate each other, bantering hostilely about their dead sex life and Elaine’s passion for painting naked men. When their son, David (Johnathan McClain), moves back home from New York, their marriage falls apart completely. They separate, although, since Walter is a series regular, their separation isn’t going to be decisive. When dad isn’t spouting the crazy to David, mom is.

Now that David lives with his father, the two predictably become like a distorted married couple, with dad pushing son to make more bacon and son harping on dad about how unhealthy bacon is. Son gets out of shower to find dad using the toilet — like that. Meanwhile, David and his townie friend flirt with a local bartender, David gets involved with an older woman, and dad tries to date — three subplots that seem to intertwine in unfunny and potentially uncomfortable ways.

Most of the show’s nonstop one-liners are either about the sex lives of the elderly or the generation gap. Casey Wilson, who was on “Saturday Night Live,’’ adds a bit of promise to the premiere, as David’s much younger and jealous sister — “Unexpected Amy, that’s me!’’ she says bitterly. But Wilson is gone by episode 2, since she jumped to an ABC relationship sitcom due in April called “Happy Endings.’’ Indeed, that sounds like a lot more fun than this unhappy beginning.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. For more on TV, visit www.boston.com/ae/tv/blog.

RETIRED AT 35

Starring: George Segal, Jessica Walter, Johnathan McClain

On: TV Land

Time: Tonight, 10:30-11