Wednesday, October 26, 2016

CBS Fall Pilot Review: The Great Indoors - Premieres Thursday (Oct. 27); TBS's Conan in NYC Week

The Great Indoors

The Great Indoors - Thursdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on CBS
Premieres Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Skees

Joel McHale makes his return to the sitcom world in The Great Indoors, the newest sitcom on CBS. McHale stars as Jack Gordon, an adventurer who does his work out in the wilderness as a magazine reporter. But the world of magazine publishing is changing, and with those changes, Jack's desk is about to become an actual desk in an actual office in Chicago, not the great outdoors. And that isn't all: even though he feels young at heart (and actually is relatively young), he is being quickly thrust into a workplace where he is now the technologically unsavvy "grandpa" working with the tech savvy millennials who know absolutely nothing about outdoor life. How will he (and everybody else, for that matter) cope with these changes? That's what this series explores.

Cast Details:

Joel McHale as Jack Gordon
Stephen Fry as Roland
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Clark
Christine Ko as Emma
Shaun Brown as Mason
Susannah Fielding as Brooke
Chris Williams as Eddie

Joel McHale (Jack Gordon) is the star of the series, and he got his start with a few small acting roles before he took the hosting role of the E! series The Soup, which replaced the long-running series Talk Soup in 2004. He remained on that series up until December 2015, but while hosting that series, he entered the sitcom world by starring as Jeff Winger on the NBC (and later Yahoo! Screen) sitcom Community for six seasons.

Stephen Fry (Roland) is an accomplished actor who has had a long and award winning career in his home country in London, England, but is likely less familiar to American audiences. He starred as the title character in the 1997 biographical film Wilde, and also had a brief appearance in A Fish Called Wanda.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Clark) has appeared in movies such as Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, and currently has a voice role in DreamWorks Dragons (which airs on Cartoon Network), but perhaps his most recognizable role is that of McLovin in the 2007 film Superbad. He can also be found in roles in music videos from artists such as Kid Cudi, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Kodaline.

Christine Ko (Emma) is a relative newcomer to the small screen, but she has had a guest role in the series Ballers.

Shaun Brown (Mason) has had guest roles in several appearances in cable series spanning a variety of genres, such as Rizzoli & Isles, The Newsroom, The First Family, True Blood, and even some Nickelodeon series.

Susannah Fielding (Brooke) is a British actress who has also had an award winning career on the other side of the Atlantic, particularly in theater, but is mostly unknown to American audiences. She has also appeared in guest roles in several British series, including Doctor Who.

Chris Williams (Eddie) has made guest appearances on countless TV series, beginning with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1992, and with more recent appearances in 2 Broke Girls and Silicon Valley. He is the younger brother of actress and singer Vanessa Williams.


Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs October 27 at 8:30PM ET)

Jack Gordon (Joel McHale) is an adventure reporter for an outdoor magazine, and he loves his job... but things are about to change. Magazine readership is on a steep decline these days, and everybody is turning to digital content. Specifically, they are turning to digital content that can go viral, much like what Buzzfeed does. The news is even worse for Jack: his outdoor adventures don't exactly fit into the new digital media mode, so the magazine founder, Roland (Stephen Fry) is taking him out of the field and bringing into the office where he is now the boss of the digital content staff, a group of young millennials who wear their Patagonia clothing for style and fashion, not for function, and know absolutely nothing about the "outdoors." Even more awkward for Jack is that his new boss, Brooke (Susannah Fielding), also happens to be an ex-girlfriend. His challenge now is to survive this new position, without constantly being summoned to meetings with human resources.

"Dating Apps" (Airs November 3 at 8:30PM ET)

Jack's co-workers are all in the dating world, but it should come as no surprise that as millennials, dating comes in the form of swiping left or swiping right on your smartphone. Initially, Jack mocks this new style of dating, but secretly decides to try to get in on it himself. It doesn't take long for the crew at work to find his profile, and of course to make fun of his it, but they're willing to help him make some improvements and he finds the perfect match... and in the end, she may be matching his identity as well.


Analysis:

Like many series before it (and certainly many more after it), we have another workplace comedy. These tend to be hit or miss, and while it's really too early to tell which one this will be, the first two episodes hold up well enough to give it a shot to see how the series develops. The series does deal with one thing that is a somewhat new dynamic in sitcoms, though, and that is how it deals with the much younger millennials who were born in the 90s. Thinking about other series that focus on "younger generations," their younger people tend to be those born in the 80s or even the 70s. Even though it may seem the same to those who are much older, people who born in the 90s grew up in a much different way, particularly in regards to technology and social media. For example, many of those born in the 70s and 80s perhaps didn't own or use any technology devices until the late 90s or early 2000s, and were first introduced to social media either in their college years or shortly thereafter. But those born in the 90s were using computers extensively before they even started kindergarten, and were thrown into social media as soon as they were old enough to use it (if not earlier), and as they are becoming adults, they are less familiar with life without technology. This series relies heavily on that dynamic, and what the "modern" workplace is like with those younger people.

One problem, though, is that there isn't really a whole lot of laugh out loud comedy in the series. There is some, but there isn't a lot. That, in and of itself, isn't exactly a problem. A sitcom doesn't have to get big laughs to be a great series if it can compensate with great script writing. Family Ties is a classic that often comes to mind, there were never big laughs but it more than compensated with great script writing. But I'm not really sure that this one compensates well enough, at least not in the first two episodes. However, it does take most sitcoms a little while to find their footing, especially since you can't really do much in earlier episodes as you have to introduce characters and settings, so it remains to be seen how it will all pan out.

There is one somewhat of an oddity that I noticed in the pilot: some of it felt a lot like the pilot episode of the ABC sitcom Last Man Standing, where Tim Allen's character Mike Baxter returned to the office at his employer (oddly enough, a sporting goods store) after being "in the field" and found that the way things worked at his office were much different than what he expected, particularly in dealing with the younger generation. In that series, though, much more of the emphasis is on his family life, whereas The Great Indoors seems to focus on a character who appears to have no evident on-screen family life.


Conclusion:

I don't really know about this series. I actually like it, but it seems to fit that mold of predictable workplace comedies, which to me, doesn't suggest that it'll be any sort of breakout hit. If they've got something unique going on, such comedies can survive and thrive, but this one almost feels too much like a "cookie cutter" type of series. It is definitely a series worth watching, and of course, one thing it has going for (for now, anyway) it is the best possible time slot for a sitcom on CBS: immediately after The Big Bang Theory. But in order for it to last, it's going to have to prove that it can thrive without that lead-in, because there will eventually be another sitcom at some point down the line that will need to use that lead-in, meaning this series has to survive without the lead-in, and for that matter, it also needs to prove that it can hold a substantial audience from the lead-in. Time will tell if it does, but the series is definitely worth giving a shot.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:


  • CBS.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • The Great Indoors Photo Gallery


  • Preview:




    Conan O'Brien

    TBS's late-night show Conan will be heading back to New York City for the first time since 2011 for a week of shows airing Oct. 31 - Nov. 3. Joining host Conan O'Brien during the week will be special guests Louis C.K., Ryan Reynolds and Tracy Morgan, along with comedian Rory Scovel, the band The Sugar Hill Gang and more. Taped at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater, the week of episodes will kick off the beginning of Conan's eighth year on TBS, a division of Turner. It will also continue O'Brien's string of innovative road show broadcasts from cities across the United States and around the globe. Additional guests and musical performances to be announced soon. Conanin NYC marks the show's sixth out-of-the-studio trip in the past 18 months and its second excursion to New York. Previous trips have taken O'Brien overseas to North Korea, Armenia and the United States Air Force Base in Doha, Qatar, where he was accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama. In spring 2015, O'Brien made headlines as the first American late-night host to shoot in Cuba in more than 50 years. During its eight seasons on TBS, the Los Angeles-based Conan has also been broadcast from such U.S. cities as Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and, for the past two years, San Diego during Comic-Con(R) International. TBS's late-night series Conan, hosted by Conan O'Brien, airs weeknights at 11 p.m. (ET/PT). The show, which draws the youngest audience of any hour-long late-night program, is produced by Conaco LLC, with Jeff Ross serving as executive producer.


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

    227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete First Season The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season

    02/07 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - Sabrina Down Under
    02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 1 - School's Cool - Boy Crazy
    02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 2 - About a Family - Hangin' Out
    02/07 - 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek)
    02/07 - Vice Principals - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
    02/14 - Beavis and Butt-Head - The Complete Collection
    02/14 - Grace and Frankie - Season Two
    02/28 - Fuller House - The Complete First Season
    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 - Unbrekable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
    03/21 - Master of None - Season One
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Monday, March 27

    The Big Bang Theory - "The Brain Bowl Incubation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    After a successful experiment combining their genes, Sheldon will stop at nothing to convince Amy they should procreate. Also, Koothrappali is embarrassed to tell the gang what the new woman he’s dating does for a living.

    Kevin Can Wait - "Kevin's Bringing Supper Back" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Kevin’s resolve to spend more quality time with his family is put to the ultimate test when his buddies surprise him with concert tickets to his favorite musician, fellow Long Islander Billy Joel. Multiple Grammy Award-winning pianist, singer and songwriter Billy Joel appears as himself.

    Superior Donuts - "Get It, Arthur" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    When Randy’s mom comes to town, Franco encourages Arthur to go out on his first date in years. Brenda Vaccaro guest stars as Helen, Randy’s mom.

    The Great Indoors - "Aaron Wolf" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Jack watches the millennials’ journalistic integrity slip away when they fall under the spell of his nemesis, Aaron Wolf (Chris D’Elia), a former magazine staffer turned famous outdoor reality TV host who returns to guest edit the magazine.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 27)

    Monday, March 27

    • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Chris on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Richard Dreyfuss (Your Family or Mine) - Richard appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
    • Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie/Malibu Country) and Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) - Lily and Jane are guests on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. They also chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
    • Rachel Dratch (Imaginary Mary) - Rachel is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Pete Holmes (Crashing) - Pete stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Accidentally on Purpose/Courting Alex/Dharma & Greg) - Jenna appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • Ron Funches (Powerless/Undateable) - Ron is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
    • Kaitlin Olson (The Mick/It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) - Kaitlin drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi appears on a repeat of Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Lisa is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Mark guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • Tahj Mowry, Derek Theler and Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Baby Daddy) - Tahj, Derek and Jean-Luc are guests on Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Tika Sumpter (The Game) - Tika appears on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Vanessa Bell Calloway (Rhythm & Blues) - Vanessa is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie) - June talks about Grace and Frankie on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) and Ben Falcone (Joey) - Melissa and Ben talk TV Land's Nobodies on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
    • Brooklyn Decker (Grace and Frankie/Friends with Better Lives) - Brookyln stops by People Now at 8:30am.
    • Marcia Gay Harden (Trophy Wife) - Marcia opens up about her favorite part of being in the 50 Shades movies on People Now at 8:30am.
    • \
    • Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Girlfriends) - Tracee dishes about her Golden Globe win on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.