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When Mr. Brown discovers a letter from his deceased father asking him to “take care of the old,” he dutifully opens a senior-care facility. Then he finds the second page of his father’s letter, finishing the sentence “…Thunderbird in the garage.” So begins Mr. Brown’s big adventure.
Tyler Perry didn't get to where he is by doing things in half measures. Meet the Browns, Perry's looser, cruder companion piece to the successful House of Payne, is a profoundly odd series, an inspirational sitcom that isn't averse to scraping its jokes from somewhere underneath the barrel. While the lessons learned are suitable for all audiences, cautious parents should have earmuffs at the ready. Based on Perry's play of the same name (and its 2008 film adaptation), the show follows the misadventures of Mr. Brown (David Mann), a sartorially challenged busybody with a heart of gold who turns his house into a retirement home, with the aid of his daughter Cora (Mann's real-life wife Tamela). Quickly assembling an assortment of oddball tenants--including an iron-jawed military man, a delusional ex-starlet, and a Paris Hilton-ish party girl fulfilling her community service--the Browns and company weather comedic crises both small and large. While most series struggle with an early bout of trial and error, this first season sees more than its fair share of awkward changeups, with initially prominent characters that wink out of existence and motivations that change on a whim. By the second half of these initial 20 episodes, however, Meet the Browns has found a groove of sorts, with its talented cast (particularly David Mann, whose pratfalls are a wonder to behold) smoothly rolling with the changes and bringing their A game to both the comedic and dramatic moments. Still, audiences may find it hard to figure out how to respond to a show where, at any given moment, a character is liable to either burst into a beautiful gospel number, or writhe around on the floor for 10 minutes after being slipped a laxative. Pick a card, folks. --Andrew Wright