“What do you get when you put comedic mastermind Ricky Gervais and five kids in the same room?” That’s what host Fred Savage asks at the start of the first episode of Child Support, a new game show on ABC. The network has found some success recently with a few game shows including reboots of $100,000 Pyramid and Match Game. Child Support is a new concept, the premise and title of which were instantly off-putting to me. With that, I reluctantly started the premiere episode.
The good news is that Ricky Gervais isn’t competing against the kids, but is with them competing against grown up game show contestants in a studio that looks like Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Savage asks questions and whether the contestant answers correctly or not, we then watch Gervais and the kids try and answer as well. In the event that a contestant gets the answer wrong, their total amount of potential winnings decreases and they remain in the game if the kids got the answer correct. They are only out of the game when both the contestant and the kids get the answer wrong, in which case they walk away with nothing.
We all know that kids say some funny, spontaneous things and the series lives and dies by how unintentionally comedic they end up being. That being said, the pilot didn’t yield all that many laughs, and certainly none from Gervais. It ends up being just a really long quiz show because you have to see both the contestants and the kids answer the same question twice.
The questions start out painfully easy, including a few Disney ones, and they get harder as the contestants progress towards higher dollar value prizes. The questions remain kid focused until the highest dollar values, at which point you wouldn’t expect kids to have the answers and question why the contestants feel confident enough to proceed, especially when they’ve already given some wrong answers.
In the pilot, the only genuine laughs actually come from Fred Savage trying to help contestants overanalyze their guesses. Other than that, there’s a few moments that make you smile, but overall the entire show falls flat. It’s a shame because Fred Savage is a great host and while I don’t expect Child Support to last long, I hope ABC or another network gives him a better show. Personally, I’d like to see a sitcom with his brother Ben.
With all of the competition across TV channels and streaming services, I can’t in good faith recommend Child Support to anyone. The slow pace makes it hard to give it your undivided attention and it tries too hard to be funny. If ABC wants to make it work, I recommend only showing the kid segments if the contestant gets the question wrong. But honestly, scrap this and find something better for Fred Savage ASAP.
I give Child Support 1.5 out of 5 kids who don’t know the answer.
Child Supports premieres Friday, January 5th, on ABC.