Monday, November 30, 2015

NBC Fall Pilot Review: Superstore - Premieres Tonight (Nov. 30); That '70s Show Heads to Pop

Superstore

Superstore - Mondays at 8:00PM ET/PT on NBC
Series Preview Monday, November 30, 2015 at 10:00PM & 10:30PM ET/PT; Timeslot Premiere on Monday, January 4, 2016 at 8:00PM ET/PT


by Vincent

Superstore is a new comedy centering around life at the supersized department store Cloud Nine. From the bright-eyed newbies and the seen-it-all veterans to the clueless summer hires and the in-it-for-life managers, together they hilariously tackle the day-to-day grind of rabid bargain hunters, riot-causing sales and nap-worthy training sessions.

Cast Details:

America Ferrara as Amy
Ben Feldman as Jonah
Colton Dunn as Garett
Lauren Ash as Dina
Mark McKinney as Glenn
Nichole Bloom as Cheyenne
Nico Santos as Mateo

America Ferrara is best known as the titular character on the popular ABC dramedy Ugly Betty. She has also appeared in films such as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, How to Train Your Dragon, and X/Y, as well as TV series such as The Good Wife and CSI.

Ben Feldman is known for his role as Michael Ginsburg on the critically acclaimed drama Mad Men. He also starred in the short-lived NBC rom-com sitcom A to Z, and has appeared on The Mindy Project, Children's Hospital, Drop Dead Diva, and Medium.

Colton Dunn is a comedic writer and actor who has written and appeared in shows such as Parks & Recreation, Key & Peele, and The Arsenio Hall Show.

Lauren Ash is a comedic actress who has appeared on shows such as Another Period and Super Fun Night.

Mark McKinney is a comedic actor who was a cast member on both The Kids in the Hall and Saturday Night Live. He also appeared in shows such as Corner Gas, Dino Dan, and several SNL character movies including Superstar and A Night at the Roxbury.

Nichole Bloom is best known for her role on Showtime's dramedy Shameless. She also appeared in the popular teen film Project X.

Nico Santos is an actor who has appeared on shows such as 2 Broke Girls, Mulaney, and Ground Floor.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs November 30 at 10:00PM ET)

Jonah begins his first day on the job at big-box store Cloud 9 and immediately starts a rocky relationship with floor supervisor Amy when he comes off as elitist and mistakenly marks appliances for only a quarter. He is also the romantic target of aggressive assistant manager Dina whose bible is the employee code of conduct. Pregnant Cheyenne shares a memorable moment with her boyfriend, Bo.

"Magazine Profile" (Airs November 30 at 10:30PM ET)

Store manager Glenn gets overly excited when the Cloud 9 corporate magazine, Stratus, is interested in a story. The reporter, Cynthia (guest star Eliza Coupe), is more focused on Jonah, however, and the two develop a more-than-business relationship, which Amy had suspected. Garrett does his best to avoid be photographed for the magazine's cover. Cheyenne asks her boyfriend, Bo to come up with a corporate jingle to help earn money to pay expenses for their upcoming baby.

Analysis:

It's no secret that NBC has had a lot of trouble developing comedies over the past few years. After dominating the sitcom line-up with smash hits such as Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld and Will & Grace, the peacock has spent most of their time trying to reclaim their glory days. For a while, this meant being the home of critical and fan favorites such as The Office, 30 Rock, Community, and Parks & Rec – shows that didn't garner blockbuster ratings, but earned the network critical acclaim and awards attention. But as network TV has continued to crumble, and as the network has seen success in other areas such as reality and procedural dramas, they decided to chase big ratings by revamping their comedy line-up and bringing in new "broad" styles of comedy. Unfortunately, this did little more than completely dismantle their comedy line-up – year after year, we watched as NBC desperately tried to appeal to America, either by giving them broad, hokey concepts (Animal Practice, Bad Judge), or by taking stars they had liked before and hoping that was all they needed (The Michael J. Fox Show, Sean Saves the World). None of these shows lasted, and it all resulted in a network that almost eschewed comedy completely – the only sitcoms on NBC this fall were a measly, low-rated hour on Friday nights. So, long story short, as NBC's first real attempt to launch comedy this year, Superstore is stepping into an incredibly tough environment. That's unfortunate, because much to my surprise, Superstore is pretty good! In fact, aside from this summer's surprisingly excellent The Carmichael Show, it's the first NBC comedy in years that actually feels like it could become something worthwhile.

Superstore isn't perfect, and saying it's better than most of the half-baked desperation that NBC has thrown our way over the past five years isn't saying much. But unlike most recent NBC sitcoms, it's a show that seems to have a vision and a purpose beyond "let's try really hard to get people to watch this show." In fact, Superstore almost seems like a deliberate attempt to throw back to the not-so-long-ago era when NBC was the place to go for well-written, immensely likable comedies. Created by Justin Spitzer (a former writer for Scrubs and The Office), the show mixes the darkly funny realism of The Office with the bouncy, lively characterization of shows such as Community and Parks & Rec. The show also has a real gem of a cast, from the two excellent leads Ferrara and Feldman (each putting in some great work on their "straight man" characters) to the rest of the well-rounded comedic ensemble. There are issues that need to be dealt with – the show relies a bit too heavily on stereotypes (though it does, on several occasions, subvert them), and it's somewhat light on jokes (though not at all light on hilarious, strange visual gags). But the pieces being set here look very similar to what shows like The Office and Community did in their earliest episodes – taking "stock characters" we'd expect in a setting like "corporate office" or "community college," or in this case, "big box retailer," and expanding on them, digging into them, and analyzing them. It's got a ways to go, but Superstore shows some real direction and promise, and I can only hope NBC's comedy problems don't squander that potential.

Conclusion:

Superstore is one of the most promising NBC comedies in ages, with a likable cast, an interesting premise reminiscent of previous great NBC comedies, and a bunch of well-drawn, if slightly stereotypical, characters. The show has a ways to go before it can be called "great," and it'll need to work in funnier and more original jokes before it can reach that level. But the first four episodes show a series with real direction, a deft handle on its characters, and a lot of potential. Let's just hope the show gets the chance to fully live up to it.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4.5/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Monday, November 30, 2015 at 10:00PM & 10:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Superstore Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • That '70s Show

    Can you dig it? That '70s Show is now on Pop, starting today (November 30). That '70s Show of course is a half-hour situation comedy series focusing on an eclectic group of friends who are typical teens on the verge of young adulthood – only it's the 1970s. When the series premiered in 1998, it launched the careers of several young actors who would go on to become pop culture icons: Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon and Wilmer Valderrama. Is it any wonder it's #StillAwesome? That '70s Show airs weekday afternoons on Pop, with four back-to-back episodes at 4pm ET, beginning today. The Pop line-up will be Dynasty at 10am and 11am (which returns Dec. 7, by the way), Beverly Hills 90210 at 12pm & 1pm, Dawson's Creek at 2pm & 3pm into That '70s Show from 4-6pm. Evenings will still feature Celebrity Name Game at 6 into soaps Bold and the Beautiful at 6:30pm, Young & The Restless at 7 and Days of Our Lives at 8. Classic sitcoms Wings, Family Ties and The Love Boat will still pop up on Pop in early morning marathon blocks beginning at 9 and on weekends. Isn't this #StillAwesome?


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (March/April)

    The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five

    03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
    03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
    03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
    03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
    03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
    03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
    03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
    03/14 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
    03/21 - Master of None - Season One
    04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
    04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
    04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
    04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
    04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Wednesday, April 26

    The Goldbergs - "Fonzie Scheme" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    When Murray is honored as one of Jenkintown’s top businessmen, his plaque is hung on a wall with all of the other honorees. And soon Beverly is dismayed to learn he has no discernable hobbies, and her attempts to help him find some backfire. Meanwhile, Barry creates a scheme stealing golf carts, but the situation goes awry and Erica comes to save the day.

    Speechless - "R-U-N-- RUNAWAY" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    When Maya learns JJ attempted to run away, she is determined to help him complete the task as any able-bodied person could, but her actions exasperate JJ, as he longs for independence. Meanwhile, Jimmy struggles to have hard talks with the kids without Maya, and Dylan tries to get Kenneth to revive his glory days as a high school sports star.

    black-ish - "Sister, Sister" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Bow’s sister comes to town after filming a stint on a reality show, and they couldn’t have less in common. Meanwhile, Zoey suggests that Dre spend more time with Junior since she’s leaving for college, and Jack and Diane decide to rebrand themselves.

    black-ish - "All Groan Up" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    When Zoey gets into several colleges around the country, Dre and Bow begin to feel worried and sentimental. They reflect back on memories they’ve had with the family and wonder what life will be like without her around all the time. Pops enlists the twins to try and sway Zoey to go to college in a city they want to visit.

    Nobodies - "Not the Emmys" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    It’s Award season! Larry, Rachel and Hugh are going to the Annies… while all their Groundlings friends are going to the Emmys.

    Lopez - "No Country Club for Young Men" (TV Land, 10:30PM ET/PT)
    George gets Hector a job at his country club, but he falls in with a bad crowd of rich kids. Olly's little sister rolls back into town while Manolo struggles to stay focused in his GED class.

    Hollywood Darlings - "Driving Miss Jodie" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Jodie must choose between a sports car and a minivan; Christine's dream of participating in an exclusive yoga class is thwarted by a loud-breathing celebrity classmate.

    Return of the Mac - "The Wrong Stuff" (Pop, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Feeling threatened by newly appointed sidekick Joey Fatone, Joe heads to a comedy club to hone his comedy monologue skills.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 24)

    Wednesday, April 26

    • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Chris and the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • America Ferrera (Superstore) - America is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) - Thomas visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Maria Bamford (Lady Dynamite) - Maria appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
    • Henry Zebrowski (A to Z) - Henry is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
    • John Leguizamo (The Brothers Garcia) - John guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • Molly Ringwald (Townies/The Facts of Life) - Molly stops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • Anna Chlumsky (Veep) - Anna stops by Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Sherri Shepherd (Trial & Error/Less Than Perfect/Sherri) - Sherri talks about the disease she won’t let destroy her on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your loclal listings.
    • Felicity Huffman (Sports Night) - Felicity makes pecan bars on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Morris Chestnut (Out All Night) - Morris is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
    • Hank Azaria (Brockmire/The Simpsons/Free Agents) - Hank appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Jodie Sweetin (Fuller House/Full House) - Jodie is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.