BROTHERS IN ARMS: Mark (left) Paul and Donnie Wahlberg star in "Wahlburgers," which premieres Wednesday night.
Even the most casual TV viewer can recite the familiar reality-show tropes: forced drama/comedy, contrived situations and the requisite “types” — The Good One, The Bad One, The Bossy One, The Nice One, The Wacky One, The Reliable One.
You get the picture.
That’s the simplest way to describe “Wahlburgers,” a tepid entry into the never-ending gaping maw of reality TV. The show offers nothing new to the oversaturated genre save for the slightly interesting involvement of celebrity brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, who both appear in and executive-produce “Wahlburgers,” premiering Wednesday on A&E. “Wahlburgers” refers to the name of the family’s successful burger joint near Boston, which is located directly across the street from their other, more upscale restaurant, Alma Nove. The “stars” here are family patriarch Alma Wahlberg and her oldest son, Paul, who runs Wahlburgers and helps out at Alma Nove, named after Mom. (“Nove,” or “nine” in Italian, refers to the nine Wahlberg children.)
Paul is hard-working, focused and a worry wart; Alma is domineering-yet-loving, obviously rules the family roost and takes no guff from anyone, including famous sons Donnie (currently starring in “Blue Bloods” on CBS) and Mark (Oscar nominee and “Entourage” executive producer/guest star). ’Nuf said.
Mark and Donnie are partners in Wahlburgers; Mark, in particular, is gung-ho on expanding the business and opening a second location, and therein lies the opener’s dramatic rub — do the brothers open another Wahlburgers in another state (or even country — Mark alludes to offers from Ireland and the Middle East) or keep the family-run business within the confines of their Boston hometown? (The family hails from Dorchester, a Beantown neighborhood.)
And that, folks, is about it. There’s lots of back-and-forth between the brothers about Alma — how much they love her, how tough she is, how much they respect her — and about how much “family” means to all of them. We get it. Each brother obsesses so much on whether or not he’s Mom’s favorite that you begin to wonder why these grown men need so much maternal validation. Perhaps some family therapy is in order (now that would be interesting).