SCOUNDRELS “Where Have You Been, Charming Billy” Review

Scoundrels (ABC)

A funeral for a family friend turns into a welcome home (temporarily) party for Wolf on the “Where Have You Been, Charming Billy” episode of SCOUNDRELS. Cal’s best friend and frequent accomplice Billy is killed during a job and the West family and their friends gather to mourn. Wolf is allowed to attend under the very relaxed guard of Russell the pushover cop and he settles in like he had never left leading Cheryl to decide that the family is better off with him in prison. Hope almost loses her best friend by trying to sleep with him while Logan deals with the fact that he is Wolf’s third favorite son out of two.

By the fourth episode of a new show, you have a good sense of the general quality of the show and whether or not it will be involving and/or fun. Scoundrels is bad and it’s neither involving nor fun. The concept has possibilities, but the execution is poor. The writing is trite, the plots are predictable, and the constant “we’re going straight,” “no, we’re not” tug of war is already tiresome.

The characters are all one dimensional at best. Wolf is the charming criminal, Cal is the foolhardy screw-up, Logan is the responsible one with a chip on his shoulder, Heather is the Kelly Bundy clone, and Hope is the awkward one hiding behind sarcasm. Cheryl seems more complicated, but only because the writing for her character is all over the map. Her moods change so rapidly I think she needs medication and she veers from wise to idiotic in the blink of an eye. It would be frustrating if she weren’t also so darn boring. I don’t buy the mythic Wolf-Cheryl passion, so I don’t care if they stay married or not, and I don’t like Wolf at all, so keeping him in prison with limited screen time is fine by me. What a waste of a talented cast. Oh, and someone get Rachel Boston a new agent. She deserves her own show (I don’t count The Ex List), not to have seven pathetic lines as a guest star (she was Tanya, hitting on Cal during the graveside service and party) in this mess.

The only intriguing part of “Where Have You Been, Charming Billy” was Cheryl instructing a too-happy Logan to stop working on Wolf’s appeal. With any other show, that could open up interesting dramatic arcs as the family finds its way without Wolf, but here I only foresee more whining and yelling across already established battle lines.

The one memorable line in the episode came, as usual, courtesy of Hope. Talking to Tad about their failed sexcapade where he called her Heather, she forgives him by saying “If that’s what floats your boat, it’s your tacky cruise ship.” Scoundrels is like that tacky cruise ship: loud and obnoxious as it floats aimlessly along. Sadly at this point, I don’t see it improving any time soon—certainly not before it’s cancelled.