By Dalton Ross
Updated March 17, 2020 at 03:08 AM EDT

One show that would love to have such a collection of quirky talent is ABC’s George Lopez. Now in its third season (and also the survivor of a time-slot shuffle to Friday night), the sitcom has improved mostly due to the on-screen maturation of its star. Initially, he seemed uncomfortable in front of the camera; with his hyper-exuberance and exaggerated delivery, Lopez the actor made ”Lopez” the show feel like an overrehearsed stand-up routine full of ”Don’t kids suck?” jokes. But now Lopez seems more at ease in his studio setting and far more believable as a television dad.

The only problem with Lopez is that the kids actually do kinda suck. Or at least they suck some life out of the show. Son Max (Luis Armand Garcia) and teen daughter Carmen (Masiela Lusha) have not grown funnier with age, and wife Angie (Constance Marie) remains little more than a setup woman for Lopez’s Latino-flavored zingers. At least Belita Moreno adds a spark as foul-tempered grandma Benny (on contracting gonorrhea: ”The shop is still open, and now there’s a cleanup in aisle 2”), even if she is just playing a variation of the abrasive-old-fogy sitcom stereotype.

”Lopez” would do well to embrace its abrasive edge more often. For a show packed with scabrous jabs on race, sex, and parenting, the continuing tendency to play it safe with mushy, family-friendly story lines (the Lopezes take in an alcoholic’s son; George searches for his long-lost sister) merely reduces the power of the individual punches.