Crowded isn’t just the name of Patrick Warburton’s new sitcom.
“It’s also the perfect word to describe my life at home,” the actor says.
Let’s do a head count: Warburton and his wife have four kids, ages 15 to 23, living under their roof. His eldest son has an ever-present girlfriend; his daughter has a steady beau as well. “Both of them seem to think they live at our house.”
On top of that, Warburton’s in-laws moved in last year. Plus, there are four dogs underfoot.
Compared to the Warburtons, Mike and Martina Moore of Crowded are lightweights.
In the show, which premieres at 9 p.m. Tuesday on NBC, the couple has two grown daughters who move back home when they can’t hack it in the real world. Meanwhile, Mike’s dad and step mom are always dropping in unannounced.
Mike and Martina (played by Carrie Preston) love their kids and they tolerate his parents. But they had been looking forward to getting some alone time after the girls left the nest.
“The show is very current, because it’s what’s going on across the country right now,” Warburton says. “Kids go off to college. But before you know it, they’re back living at home again, which is why they’re called the boomerang generation.”
This is a curious lifestyle trend of the past 15 years.
“Young people are no less responsible today than they were in our day and age,” Warburton believes. “But it seems to be more acceptable now for young people in their 20s and 30s to continually live at home. Whereas my generation, we wanted to split — and we had parents who made us want to split.”
Now Mike and Martina, like many parents in the same situation, are paying the price for being best friends with their kids, Shea (Miranda Cosgrove) and Stella (Mia Serafino).
“They do cramp Mike and Martina’s style now and then, especially when things start to get romantic,” Warburton says.
Once you get past the timely “Boomerang Babies” element, of course, Crowded is still an old-school-style sitcom that follows a tried-and-true multi-camera, studio-audience, laugh-track formula.
It’s a format that Warburton knows well. He ended a seven-season, 100-episode run on Rules of Engagement in 2013, although he’s probably best known for playing David Puddy, Elaine’s face-painting, high-fiving boyfriend, in Seinfeld.
“At first I was a bit reticent because I felt like I wanted to take a break from sitcoms,” he says. “Then I realized this was probably the best opportunity I’ve had on a show since Seinfeld. I had to do it.
“It’s a fantastic cast. Carrie Preston (formerly of True Blood) is such a fine actress. The two girls, Miranda (iCarly) and Mia, are super talented. And Stacy Keach (who plays Mike’s dad) is a pleasure to work with. It will be fun getting to ride on their coattails.”
Crowded is already assured a place in the history books, no matter how long it lasts. That’s because James Burrows, the legendary sitcom director, reached his milestone 1,000th episode of television in November while directing the 13th and final Crowded of the season.
Even though it wasn’t Warburton’s accomplishment, he was thrilled to be involved.
“It’s an unbelievable honor just to be part of Jim Burrows’ legacy,” the actor says. “I hope we get to work with him again next year.”
And yes, Warburton believes there will be a next year for Crowded.
“When you’re talking about multi-camera sitcoms, the key is to be funny, entertaining and relatable,” he says. “It’s not about learning lessons. It’s not about trying to be more important than it is.
“It’s just got to be funny and charming and crazy enough that viewers will keep giving it a half-hour of their time. And I think we have that.
“This show felt like a well-oiled machine right from the start — and that’s really hard to come by.”
- Premieres at 9 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, then moves to 8:30 p.m. Sunday
- KXAS/Channel 5