Tuesday, August 04, 2015

NBC Summer Pilot Review: Mr. Robinson - Premieres Wednesday, Aug. 5; CBS Fall 2015 Preview Hosted by Jane Lynch

Mr. Robinson

Mr. Robinson - Wednesdays at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

As lead singer and keyboardist of the funk band Nasty Delicious, Craig knows a thing or two about working the crowd, but his day job is where he really makes the grade. Every struggling artist knows the drill: You've got to pay the bills while you wait for that big break. It's a constant struggle for Craig, having one foot in the music world with his band, Nasty Delicious, and having one foot in the teaching world. But if Craig wants to get the girl of his dreams and teach these kids the joys of music, he'll have to buckle down, shape up and get the funk out.

Cast Details:

Craig Robinson as Craig Robinson
Peri Gilpin as Principal Christine Taylor
Brandon T. Jackson as Ben Robinson
Ben Koldyke as Jimmy Hooper
Amandla Stenberg as Halle Foster
Spencer Grammer as Ashleigh Fellows
Tim Bagley as Supervisor Dalton

Craig Robinson (Craig) is an American actor, stand-up comedian, and singer. He is best known for his role as Darryl Philbin on The Office. He has also starred in many films, including Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Hot Tub Time Machine and This Is the End.

Peri Gilpin (Principal Christine Taylor) has a long history of television credits, including the popular role of Roz on Fraiser. She has also appeared in series such as 21 Jump Street, Cheers, Matlock, Hot in Cleveland, Drop Dead Diva, and CSI.

Brandon Timothy Jackson (Ben) is a comedian with a long list of film and TV credits. He is known for his roles in the films Roll Bounce, Tropic Thunder, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Lottery Ticket, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters.

Ben Koldyke (Jimmy) is an actor known for recurring roles on popular series such as Big Love and How I Met Your Mother. He also appeared in shows such as Back in the Game, The Newsroom, and 24.

Spencer Grammer (Ashleigh) is known for her appearance on series such as Greek, Robot Chicken, Rick and Morty, Royals Pains, and Chicago PD. She is the daughter of TV great Kelsey Grammer.

Tim Bagley (Dalton) has appeared in a long list of television shows, including $#!t My Dad Says, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The King of Queens, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Pilot Plot:

We have watched all six episodes for review. The first two will air this Wednesday night. The plots for these episodes are listed below:

"Pilot" (Airs August 5 at 9:00PM ET)

Per a chance encounter, musician Craig (Craig Robinson) decides take a substitute music teacher gig to win over his high-school sweetheart, Victoria (guest star Meagan Good). Things don't go exactly as planned with Victoria, but he connects with the students and colorful faculty.

"Flesh for Fantasy" (Airs August 5 at 9:30PM ET)

When rock legend Neville Rex (guest star Gary Cole) teases Nasty Delicious with a possible record contract, Craig (Craig Robinson) invites Neville to speak to his class in hopes of sealing the deal. But when Neville shows up at school, Craig learns that Principal Taylor (Peri Gilpin) used to date him. And when she falls into her old groupie habits, the faculty is forced to take action. Meanwhile, Victoria (guest star Meagan Good) advises the other teachers on a good investment, but their spending habits get out of control.

Analysis:

Historically, summer has been known as a dead time for television. While everyone is busy frolicking and vacationing in the sun, the networks are counting the days until fall while filling their airwaves with contractual burn-offs and cheap reality programming. Over the past several years, though, the rise of cable and streaming services has led to summer producing just as many worthwhile TV endeavors as any other time of year – if not more. Just this summer we've seen shows like Inside Amy Schumer, Mr. Robot, BoJack Horseman, Rick and Morty, Review and countless others producing top-notch content. Even the broadcast networks are getting in on the trend, with shows like Under the Dome and Wayward Pines generating buzz equal to some of their regular season counterparts. Even on NBC, shows like like The Night Shift and Undateable performed well enough last summer to wind up getting plush spring timeslots the following year. But then we have shows like Mr. Robinson, an obvious burn-off that NBC is throwing to the wolves in the dog days of summer hoping no one will notice. Mr. Robinson has been in development for seemingly forever (NBC gave it a series order way back in January 2014) and the initial excitement over the series has dwindled as its premiere has been constantly pushed back later and later, until it initially became clear that the show had become another victim of NBC's seemingly endless comedy woes.

Mr. Robinson has a talented cast, a somewhat original premise, and some talented writers on board. It's a show that could've theoretically worked – and yet, the final product is a complete mess of a sitcom that has very little idea of what it wants to be. The show completely wastes its talented ensemble with awkward, forced lines, conventional sitcom plots that would've seemed trite even in the 1960s, and an overall sense of intensely embarrassing flopsweat. The pilot follows breaks nearly every rule of a good pilot there is – the dialogue is unnatural and horribly expository (nearly every character has a line in which they clumsily introduce their profession and purpose on the show), the characters are paper-thin and stereotypical, and everything just feels unnecessarily mean-spirited, meaning that not only is the show not funny – it's straight-up unbearable. In a way, it feels like a combination of every accusation thrown against modern multi-camera sitcoms – it's forced, it's awkward, it's not funny despite a roaring laugh track exploding after nearly every line, and everything from the sets to the dialogue to the characters themselves feels painfully artificial.

Conclusion:

Craig Robinson is a talented man, and he deserves some kind of star vehicle. But that star vehicle is absolutely not this mess, which combines all of the worst clich├ęs of a bad multi-camera sitcom into something that honestly kind of seems like it was created to be an argument for the "multi-camera comedy is dead" crowd. (It's not, but this show will briefly make you wish it was.) It's a shame that a show with such potential was ultimately squandered, but it's also not surprising come from NBC, a network that has squandered every bit of potential it's had in the comedy department for the past five years. Hopefully the members of this show's cast and crew can take their talents somewhere where they'll be put to better use.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 1.5/5
Funniness: 1/5
Overall: 1/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, August 5, 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
  • Fresh Off the Boat Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • Jane Lynch - CBS Fall Preview

    CBS Fall Preview, hosted by the Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award-winner Jane Lynch, star of CBS's new comedy series Angel from Hell, is a primetime special highlighting the Network's five new fall series. It will be broadcast Monday, Sept. 7 from 8:30-9:00 PM, ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and CBS All Access, the Network's digital subscription service. In addition, the special will be available on demand across multiple platforms through Sept. 30, providing viewers with convenient anytime access to information about the Network's new fall lineup. The platforms include CBS.com (http://www.cbs.com/shows/cbs-fall-previews-2015/), the CBS App (www.cbs.com/mobile/), select CBS Audience Network partner sites and participating CBS stations' sites, as well as on demand via the Network's various cable, satellite and telco partners. Throughout the special, Lynch will introduce "first look" behind-the-scenes moments and cast interviews from each of the Network's five new series: Life in Pieces, Limitless, Code Black, Supergirl and Jane Lynch's own series Angel from Hell.


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    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 22)

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    • Will Arnett (Flaked/Arrested Development/The Millers/Up All Night/Running Wilde) - Watch Will on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
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    • Jason Biggs (Outmatched/Mad Love/Drexell's Class) - Jason is filling us in on hosting the new game show Cherries Wild on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • Mary Lynn Rajskub (How to Be a Gentleman/Veronica's Closet/The Larry Sanders Show) - Mary Lynn talks about Live from the Pandemic on Couch Surfing at 8am.
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