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Despite a rich cast, ‘Indebted’ is lacking in laughs

Fran Drescher and Adam Pally of "Indebted."Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

I was eager to see “Indebted,” a new NBC sitcom premiering Thursday at 9:30 p.m., for a few reasons. First of all, whenever I see a “Happy Endings” cast member listed in a new show, I will check it out. In this case, the alum is Adam Pally. Also, the rest of the cast — including Abby Elliott, Steven Weber, and Fran Drescher — is of interest, especially Drescher, who gave me a few laughs in the 1990s in “The Nanny.” And then if any network channel is going to come up with a fresh comedy, it’s probably going to be NBC, which has given us “The Good Place” and “Parks and Recreation” in recent years.

But yeah, it’s not good. The premise is a version of Mark Feuerstein’s “9JKL,” or Sarah Chalke’s “How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life),” or Patrick Warburton’s “Crowded,” where the writers push adult children back into the same living quarters as their parents in order to watch the generational and familial sparks fly. In the case of “Indebted,” the parents — Drescher and Weber — are broke and have to move in with their adult son and his wife, Pally and Elliott.


With good writing and a creative cast, almost any premise, no matter how tired, can work. “Schitt’s Creek” is a kind of twist on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and not much more, with fish-out-of-water material galore; but the show works thanks to its fine cast, its unwillingness to thrive on one-off jokes, and its humane perspective. “Indebted” feels more like the typical tossed-off network sitcom, with roars of laughter greeting each machine gun spray of bad jokes. The cast members don’t seem particularly inspired, including Pally. They appear to be going through the motions of a funny show, along with the script.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.