ABC’s freshman half-hour Summer comedy Uncle Buck has been cancelled following it’s original four-week, eight-episode run. Series co-star James Lesure (Las Vegas) was the first to break the news of the cancellation in a tweet earlier today.
— James Lesure (@JamesLesure) July 6, 2016
The series, created by comedy writer-producer team Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley (Scrubs), who also executive-produced the show with Will Packer (Straight Outta Compton), premiered on June 14, 2016 to 5.24 million viewers, and averaged approximately 3.8 million viewers throughout its eight-episode run. Though these figures represent significant increases (over 80%) from ABC’s programming in the same Tuesday 9:00 PM time-slot last year (Extreme Weight Loss), the series received generally negative and unfavorable reviews, including an aggregate 37/100 from Metacritic, and was officially cancelled immediately following the series finale on July 5, 2016.
Based on John Candy’s movie Uncle Buck (1989), the series differentiates itself from the classic comedy by way of an all-black cast. Starring Mike Epps (The Hangover) as Buck, the titular “charming hustler” is called upon to care for his brother (James Lesure) and sister in-law’s (Nia Long) kids when their nanny is unexpectedly unavailable. Buck uses his street-smarts to succeed where he is expected to fail. The series dealt with a culture-clash between Buck’s South-Side Chicago upbringing and the contemporary, suburban lifestyle his brother and sister in-law’s family now lives. A prime example of the culture-clash comes when Buck, an enterprising but down-on-his-luck inner-city schemer, is tasked with finding gluten-free snacks for his brother’s kids. However, by the series’ end, Buck’s family finds him to be a useful resource to help ground their children by showing them the hard-knock way Buck and his brother were brought up. Buck himself grows up through the emotional connection he makes with his brother’s children.
Unfortunately, rebooting a 25 year-old John Hughes and John Candy movie is no easy task, as Entertainment Weekly’s Ray Rahman wrote of the series premiere: “Could this new iteration, which comes more then 25 years after the original film, actually pull it off? The short answer is, not quite. This by-the-numbers adaptation doesn’t have the quirk or emotion that made the original so memorable. The writing is uninspired and too many of the gags fall as flat as pancakes (which, yes, do play a part in the sitcom).”
However, Mike Epp’s funny characterization and comedy talent marked a substantial positive in a generally negatively received show. Ray Rahman in particular applauded his performance: “But there is some good news. The sitcom boasts a key building block in the form of Mike Epps, the funny, charismatic comic actor who assumes the title role. His Buck is more sleazy schemer than the movie’s slobby slacker, but Epps has a Candy-esque ability to win over an audience, even when the show itself fails to connect.”
Uncle Buck was executive produced by Steven Cragg, Brian Bradley, and Will Packer, written by Steven Cragg, Brian Bradley. The series starred Mike Epps, Nia Long, James Lesure, Iman Benson, Sayeed Shahidi and Aalyrah Caldwell.