Primal Screen: 'The Goodwin Games' 

click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo

(7:30pm Mon, Fox)

In Fox’s promising new sitcom, three estranged siblings reunite after their father (Beau Bridges) dies, only to learn that he has set up a series of competitions to determine which one of them will win his fortune. This questionable approach to an inheritance echoes his questionable approach to childrearing. The siblings have all been scarred by him, each in a different way. Henry (Scott Foley) is an overachiever, Chloe (Becki Newton) a flake, Jimmy (T.J. Miller) a criminal. The Goodwin Games is reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, another bittersweet comedy about adult children broken by a bad dad. Here, daddy dearest continues to torment them from beyond the grave.

“You children could have been magnificent,” he tells them in one of his posthumous videos.

As in The Royal Tenenbaums, though, nothing is black-or-white. In a mere half-hour, the pilot shades Henry, Chloe and Jimmy so that they emerge as people rather than comic types. Even Jimmy, the goofiest of the siblings (check out the priceless bit in which he tries, and fails, to be sarcastic), displays unexpected tenderness to his young daughter.

I have to correct old man Goodwin. These children are magnificent, at least as characters.

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