Picks and Pans Review: Under One Roof
This new drama focuses on an extended middle-class black family in Seattle. James Earl Jones plays the senior Langston, a widowed cop. In the same building lives his son (Joe Morton), a husband and father of two, trying to get a hardware business started after a career in the Marine Corps.
This series is strongly reminiscent of A Year in the Life (a show I always honored more in theory than in observance). Under One Roof is a wholesome, heartwarming homily on family values. The drama rings true; it just doesn't ring deep. In one episode, Morton's wife (Vanessa Bell Calloway) is graduating from college, and the couple celebrate by spending a romantic evening in a hotel. Meanwhile at home their youngest child (Ronald Joshua Scott) goes into diabetic shock. And Jones's troubled teen foster child (Merlin Santana) gets arrested while trying to scam enough money for a pair of Doc Martens.
Morton, as he proved in Equal Justice, has a kind of empathy that makes him an ideal anchor for a TV series. But he and everyone else in the cast are a little overqualified for this decorous modern fable.