By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated March 15, 2010 at 03:32 PM EDT
Tyler Labine
Credit: Patrick Wymore/Fox

Image Credit: Patrick Wymore/FoxSons of Tucson last night came with few surprises in terms of plot – we all deserve an award for consuming the regurgitated story of a debt-riddled loser protagonist who gets into a bombastic situation. But it’s my pleasure to report that Tucson‘s characters (and actors) might be enough to save the show from getting a plot in the TV graveyard. Allow me to explain.

First the basics: Three parent-less boys (dad’s in prison for a white-collar crime and mom’s been out of the picture for a while) need an adult to get them enrolled in school. After a thorough off-screen search for a suitable candidate, the boys settle on Ron Snuffkin, who really doesn’t have much to him besides being a man of questionable morale fortitude who is in desperate need of money (he owes some shady guy in a parking lot $2,000 for something, but he works as a retail clerk and is living in his car). Snuffkin agrees to the one-time gig. Then, the following day, youngest brother Robby has an explosion incident at school, and the boys realize they might be over their heads. Because the series is based on the premise of a man acting as a pseudo-parent to these three boys, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you they extend their arrangement with Snuffkin by the end of the episode.

Like I said, there is not much by way of plot, but the individual pieces of the show give it promise. As EW critic Ken Tucker said in his take, if you liked Tyler Labine’s laid-back-dude vibe in Reaper, you’ll probably enjoy Sons of Tucson. Labine does a great job at making Snuffkin a lovable buffoon without crossing the line into campy. The pilot also rested on Labine’s ability to portray the undeniably creepy Snuffkin as likable, considering the premise.

Along with Labine, the series’ three boys, all relative newcomers to television, also have a considerable load to carry. Frank Dolce, who plays middle brother Gary, made a name for himself during his run in Billy Elliot on Broadway, and is clearly the standout in terms of acting ability. But in terms of comic relief, the night belonged to the youngest brother, Robby (Benjamin Stockham), and his dry delivery and misleadingly innocent face. I never thought something as simple as a butt-cheek punch could make me laugh so hard.

So what did you think of Sons of Tucson? Share your favorite moments and lines below. And tell me: Do you think it will survive?

Top lines/exchanges:

Brandon: We’re working too hard. Let’s just put an ad out on Craigslist. ‘Wanted: Father to three boys.’ Bam. We’re done.

Gary: Great idea. A footrace between the pervs and child services. Bam. We’re screwed.

Robby: I’m seeing butt crack. Are we this desperate?

Brandon: We made it out here ourselves from Jersey. Robby fought off a rail yard hobo for a can of beans

Robby: Those beans were mine.

Ron: What’s on the schedule for manana?

Gary: Well, we’ll be going to school, and you’ll be eating dashboard bacon.