Kevin Can Wait returns Kevin James to the world of the “big guy with a hot wife” sitcoms. His last venture, King of Queens, was a massive success where it continues to thrive in reruns. Will lightning strike twice? Audiences will start to find out tonight, where the show will air following The Big Bang Theory.
This time around, James plays a newly-retired police officer who discovers that the job of Dad is just as dangerous as what he had to handle on the streets. Yes, unlike his previous series… this time Kevin James plays a father.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour this summer, Kevin James talked about the origins of this new “Kevin” that he will be playing.
“I grew up with a lot of guys on Long Island who were and are police officers, and they kind of go all into the academy together, and they put their time in together, and 20 years later they were done,” James recalls. “Retirement, you usually think, I guess, a little older or something. These guys are in their 40s, and they’re home, and they had this dream of what they’re going to do together every day, and ‘We’ll do this. We’ll race go‑carts. We’ll go to Mets games and things like that, and also spend time with the family,’ but it doesn’t go that way. Life doesn’t go as you plan it, and that’s what makes it so much fun that we have all these characters to interact with.”
“I like it because I’ve never played a dad, you know, in a sitcom before,” Kevin James admits, “so it’s going to be a lot of fun to deal with kids and deal with problems of the day, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Some critics might notice similarities between Kevin Can Wait and James’ previous show, but that is something the actor seems to have no problem with.
“That’s the trick of it all. You always kind of want to do something different, yet the same. It’s a constant battle in my career to say, ‘I don’t want to do the same thing again’ or this or that. You say you want to do something different, but automatically you lose half your audience, the people that enjoyed that, what you were doing, and so you do more of that. So the trick is ‑‑ I think we’ve done it really well ‑‑ to kind of do a blend of both. I want to play this character because I really connect with them. I do know them. I grew up on Long Island. They’re great guys. It’s just a matter of finding those elements, making it different enough, like I said, with kids and family and friends, and obviously, the characters that we have and the people that we cast right away make it different. But you also want that comfort of being a show you can watch with the whole family and connect with out of the gate.”
Might we see any of James’ King of Queens costars on his new show? “I mean, I would love to do it in a way,” he admits while acknowledging that if it happens too soon it would feel like a “ploy.”
“I want this show to take on its own life and become its own thing,” he said. “So if I were to look into that, they are both incredibly talented people. I’d love to have them.”
Kevin Can Wait premieres tonight (September 19) at 8:30 ET on CBS. Here’s a fun trailer with Kevin’s new character meeting his old one: