Tuesday, August 25, 2015

NBC Summer Pilot Review: The Carmichael Show - Premieres Wednesday, Aug. 26; WGN America Announces Launch Date for Prime Crime Block

Mr. Robinson

The Carmichael Show - Wednesdays at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT


by Skees

From stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael comes The Carmichael Show, a series based upon his real family life. Everything seems to go pretty well back at home in his apartment (where he lives with his girlfriend, a therapist in training), but back at his parent's home, he has to deal with his vocal and politically incorrect father, a mother who fears God and will get involved in anything that is none of her business, and a brother who is always there to take advantage of everybody.

Cast Details:

Jerrod Carmichael as Jerrod Carmichael
Amber Stevens West as Maxine
David Alan Grier as Joe Carmichael
Loretta Devine as Cynthia Carmichael
Lil Rel Howard as Bobby Carmichael

Jerrod Carmichael (Jerrod) plays the starring role, which is (clearly) named after himself. Carmichael is a stand-up comic based in North Carolina, and previously had a recurring role on the short-lived Fox series The Goodwin Games.

Amber Stevens West (Maxine) plays Jerrod's live-in girlfriend. She is best known for her role on the ABC Family series Greek, but has also had appearances on How I Met Your Mother, 90210, New Girl, and Criminal Minds.

David Alan Grier (Joe) plays the Carmichael family patriarch. Grier started out as a dramatic actor originally, even appearing on Broadway shows, but found his true calling in comedy with In Living Color. He briefly had his own sitcom in the early 2000s with DAG, and later appeared on the ABC series Life with Bonnie. More recently, he appeared in the series Bad Teacher, and has had plenty of movie roles along the way.

Loretta Devine (Cynthia) plays the role of the Carmichael family mother. She is best known for her starring role on Boston Public, and has also had regular roles on Eli Stone and The Client List. She has appeared in several other guest starring roles, including one recurring role on Grey's Anatomy.

Lil Rel Howery (Bobby) plays Jerrod's brother. He is mostly known for his stand-up comedy, but has appeared on the TruTV series Friends of the People.


Pilot Plot:

We have watched the first three episodes for review (the first two of which will air this week), and the plots of them are as follows.

"Pilot" (Airs August 26 at 9:00PM ET)

Jerrod Carmichael is living with his girlfriend, which shouldn't be a huge deal... except he has to figure out how to tell his parents about this. It's not going to be easy, but he has a few tricks up his sleeves to make it a little bit easier.

"Protest" (Airs August 26 at 9:30PM ET)

The Black Lives Matter protests have divided the family just in time for Jerrod's birthday, and things only get more divisive when Maxine and Cynthia decide to join the protests, leaving Jerrod and Joe with their own war back at home.

"Kale" (Airs September 2 at 9:00PM ET)

Jerrod decides to force his parents to eat healthy when they visit his apartment, but in the midst of it, a health scare occurs with his father. Now, he is trying to do whatever he can to see that his father takes care of his health so that nothing worse happens, even if nobody is interested in actually living a healthier lifestyle.


Analysis:

This show has one huge problem: it's called The Carmichael Show, it stars Jerrod Carmichael, and as such it is supposed to be his show. A show about him and his character. In watching the first three episodes, however, I didn't really see him as the best thing or the star of the show. The roles of his parents, played by Loretta Devine and David Alan Grier, are the ones who really shine on this series. The real laughs in the episodes that I viewed mostly came from them, along with Jerrod's brother Bobby (Lil Rel Howery) and Bobby's ex-wife Nekiesha (Tiffany Haddish), and even the promos for the series have been making them out to be the stars of the series. The stars of the series aren't so great. There aren't so many great moments of them, especially when they're at the apartment all alone. But when the other characters are around? Those scenes were pretty good.

Fortunately, I think they seem to recognize that the show functions best when the entire family is there, and as a result, they're often together. I have to wonder, though, how they will continue this if the series were to continue for another season (which seems unlikely given the level of confidence NBC is showing the series as it is). How will they be able to explain the family constantly all being together all the time? If the series does go on, I think the appropriate move would be to make it more of an All in the Family style series where Jerrod and Maxine are living with Jerrod's parents. Those characters are very critical for the continued success (if that is what the network wants, at least) of the series.

The comedy in the series reminds me a lot of what The Millers was like on CBS, at least in the first season (the second season took a quick nosedive into cancellation). There is a lot of "dysfunctional family" comedy going on, whether it comes from the family argument about politics, family disagreements over the Black Lives Matter movement, or simply healthy eating habits. It is difficult to inject a lot of humor into these topics, but the series manages to do it.

One other small side-note, it really feels weird seeing David Alan Grier playing the role of the father of two grown sons. It seems like it wasn't all that long ago that he was just a young and fresh face on In Living Color (though he was in his 30s at that time even), but now he seems to appropriately fit this role of a character who is said to be 60 years old... which is about how old he is in real life.


Conclusion:

I sort of have mixed feelings about this series. As long as it continues to focus on life of the extended family, and not the (frankly) boring scenes back at the apartment, it could be a good series. But this is an NBC summer burn-off, so honestly, I think NBC is showing a lot of uncertainty about it before it even begins. It is a much better series than NBC's other summer sitcom, Mr. Robinson (which it was initially slated to be paired with), and I sort of feel like it deserves a place in next year's mid-season lineup, provided that they make a few minor tweaks. I can't necessarily say that the series is for everybody, but I'd recommend watching it and giving it a fair chance. It has great qualities, even if the series does need a bit of work.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

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

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • The Carmichael Show Photo Gallery


  • Preview:




    WGN America Person of Interest

    WGN America becomes the exclusive cable destination for TV's most popular procedurals, Elementary and Person of Interest, premiering Monday, August 31 and Tuesday, September 1, respectively, in the network's new "Prime Crime" line-up. Airing weekdays, back-to-back, starting at 7:00pm ET/6:00pm CT, the two hit crime dramas join fan-favorite Blue Bloods, in the new programming block that kicks off with a binge-worthy 100-episode event. Over the first two weeks, a total of 100 installments of Elementary and Person of Interest will give viewers the opportunity to watch these compelling series from the very beginning, diving into the cases and capers that have unfolded since their television debuts. WGN America acquired the exclusive off-network rights to the coveted dramas in 2014. The schedule of important dates are below:

    Monday, August 31 (7:00pm-1:00am/ET)
    Elementary debuts with six back-to-back episodes

    Tuesday, September 1 (7:00pm–1:00am/ET)
    Person of Interest debuts with three back-to-back episodes, followed by three episodes of Elementary

    Labor Day Marathon, Monday, September 7 (1:00pm–1:00am/ET)
    12-hour marathon features episodes of both Elementary and Person of Interest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Monday, May 17

    The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Surprise" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    When Calvin receives an unconventional birthday gift involving his father, Dave suggests they spend the day celebrating in a way that honors the late Butler patriarch. Also, an unexpected development changes the Johnsons’ lives forever.

    Bob Hearts Abishola - "God Accepts Venmo" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    While comparing their busy schedules, Bob and Abishola realize the perfect date for their wedding is in just three weeks and enlist their family and friends to help plan their big day.

    Breeders - "No Power Part II" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    On the day of Leah and Alex's wedding, Paul and Ally find they have only a few hours to deal with a family crisis, leading Paul to make the hardest decision of his life.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 17)

    Monday, May 17

    • Patton Oswalt (A.P. Bio/The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Watch Patton on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita Diet) - Timothy appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Billy Crystal (The Comedians/Soap) - Billy is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Denise Richards (Blue Mountain State) - Denise will be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Scott Foley (The Goodwin Games/A.U.S.A./Scrubs) - Scott appears on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Nick Jonas (Jonas) - Nick is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Drew Barrymore (Santa Clarita Diet) - Drew guest hosts the 8am hour of CBS This Morning.
    • Rob Corddry (The Unicorn/Ballers/The Winner) - Rob talks about Top Gear America on Reality Check at 4:30pm.
    • Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) and Dylan McDermott (No Activity/L.A. to Vegas) - Christopher and Dylan talk about Law & Order: Organized Crime on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
    • Regina Hall (Black Monday/Grandfathered/Second Generation Wayans) - Regina talks about season three of Black Monday on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (January-May)

    Corporate - Season 2 Fam - The Complete Series Betty White's Pet Set - The Complete Series Happy Together - The Complete Series Til Death - The Complete Series

    01/22 - Corporate - Season 2
    01/22 - Corporate - Season 3
    02/02 - Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In - The Complete Series (2021 Retail Release)
    02/16 - Fam - The Complete Series
    02/23 - Betty White's Pet Set - The Complete Series
    03/02 - Blue Mountain State - The Complete Series
    03/02 - Happy Together - The Complete Series
    03/02 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-4 (DVD) (Blu-ray)
    04/20 - 'Til Death - The Complete Series
    05/11 - Dead to Me - Season Two

    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    05/17 - Fox Upfront 2021-22: Fall 2021 Schedule; Friends Reunion on HBO Max, Every Episode Marathon on TBS
    05/16 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 17, 2021)
    05/15 - SitcomsOnline Digest: ABC Cancels Several Series; Quibi Returns Via Roku
    05/14 - NBC Upfront 2021-22: Fall 2021 Schedule; Fri-Yay: ABC and CBS Comedy Renewal Decisions
    05/13 - Billy Porter and More Join The Proud Family Revival; HBO Max Orders Gordita Chronicles
    05/12 - FXX Orders Animated Comedy Little Demon; The CW to Revive Legends of the Hidden Temple
    05/11 - Fox 2021-22 Updates Includes Comedy News; ABC Renews Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 for 2021-22, NBC Orders Dark Comedy Pilot
    05/10 - Netflix Sitcom The Upshaws Premieres on Wednesday (May 12); Hallmark Channel Sitcom Schedule Changes
    05/09 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 10, 2021)
    05/08 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Trailer Released for Upcoming Rugrats Reboot; Final Airdate Set for Conan
    05/07 - Fri-Yay: Rolling Stone's 100 Best Sitcoms of All Time; Marion Cunningham Greatest Classic TV Mom in New Poll
    05/06 - E! Reunites TV Casts in Reunion Road Trip; Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Mr. Corman on Apple TV+
    05/05 - COZI TV's Roseanne Mother's Day Mom Genes Marathon; Conan's Final TBS Episode to Air June 24
    05/04 - NBC Orders Night Court Revival to Pilot; House of Payne and Assisted Living Return May 25 and Ordered for Additional Season
    05/03 - Young Rock and Kenan Set to Return for Season 2; Schmigadoon! A New Apple TV+ Comedy Coming This July
    05/02 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 3, 2021)
    05/01 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Night Court Reboot One Step Closer to Reality; IMDb TV Picks Up Comedy From My Name Is Earl Creator
    04/30 - Fri-Yay: Rewind TV Offers Sitcom Lovers a Chance to Watch Their 80s/90s Faves; CBS Announces Season Finale Dates
    04/29 - ABC Revises Summer Premieres and Finales, Announces Drama Finale Dates; IMDb TV Gets Greg Garcia Comedy
    04/28 - Fox Producing New Flintstones Series Titled Bedrock; Sarah Silverman Joins Damon Wayans Jr. TBS Pilot
    04/27 - Antenna TV's Companion Network, Rewind TV Launching September 1 with 80s and 90s Series; Remembering Sitcom Writer Bernie Kahn
    04/26 - Disney Channel Orders Second Season of Time Travel Comedy; Selena Gomez Returning for 3rd Season of HBO Max Series
    04/25 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of April 26, 2021)
    04/24 - SitcomsOnline Digest: How I Met Your Mother Spinoff Picked Up at Hulu; Complete Series of Baywatch Arriving on DVD
    04/23 - Fri-Yay: Netflix's New Jamie Foxx Sitcom Has Potential But Not Quite There Yet; Remembering Felix Silla of The Addams Family and James Hampton of F Troop
    04/22 - Hulu Orders How I Met Your Father Starring Hilary Duff; Robot Chicken Takes on Riverdale
    04/21 - Ted Lasso Returns July 23, Mark Your Calendars; ABC Comedies Season Finale Dates
    04/20 - FXX's Dave Season 2 Premiere Set for June; HBO Max Orders Michael Che Comedy Series
    04/19 - Starz Announces Courteney Cox Comedy; Fox Pulls The Moodys
    04/18 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of April 19, 2021)
    04/17 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Will Sasso Joins HBO Max Sitcom Pilot; Home Economics Off to Solid Start