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?


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Wednesday, October 20

    The Goldbergs - "An Itch Like No Other" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    With Beverly’s encouragement, Mr. Glascott moves in next door to the Goldbergs and slowly goes from friendly neighbor to cluelessly intrusive. Adam and Murray become increasingly disgruntled while Beverly comes up with a plan to occupy Mr. Glascott’s time with a new friend, Mr. Woodburn. Meanwhile, Barry lands in urgent care with a case of poison ivy in a compromising area – his rear end. Erica and Geoff are called to task to take care of Barry and his ridiculous demands – inadvertently testing their parenting skills and patience with one another.

    The Wonder Years - "The Lock In" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Dean is reluctant to attend the annual church lock-in until Kim tells him it’s where she got her first kiss. He enlists his friends to help him pair up with Keisa, but his plans are thwarted when he instead gets paired up with the pastor’s daughter, Charlene.

    The Conners - "Trucking Live in Front of a Fully Vaccinated Studio Audience -- East Coast" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Lights, Camera, Action: “The Conners” is going live for both the East and West Coast broadcasts of the season four premiere episode. This iconic TV family continues to deal with the current pandemic while navigating breakups and newfound sobriety, all while planning an upcoming wedding.

    Home Economics - "Giant Jenga, $120" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Tom spirals when Connor dates a woman who broke his heart at summer camp. Then, family game night becomes an all-or-nothing competition between Marina and Denise.

    Superstar - "Robin Williams" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    The new episode recounts his life through Robin Williams’ own voice, describing “the spark of madness” which defined his life. From his early days in the San Francisco Bay Area comedy scene to his meteoric rise on “Mork & Mindy,” the one-hour special explores the experiences that made Williams into a one-of-a-kind talent and reveals what gave voice to the characters in his mind. It also chronicles the creative force driving critically acclaimed films like “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society,” as well as fan favorites such as “Aladdin.” The special explores his personal struggles, including substance abuse and depression, and his battle with Lewy Body Dementia before his tragic death in 2014. “Superstar: Robin Williams” features interviews with famous comedians and actors who knew and admired Williams, including Margaret Cho, Howie Mandel, Lewis Black, Jimmie Walker, Paula Poundstone, Gina Hecht and Pauly Shore, as well as Barry Levinson, director of multiple films starring Williams including “Good Morning, Vietnam.” The program also contains interviews with Williams from the ABC News archives, in which he opens up about his life and the highs and lows of his distinguished career.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 18)

    Wednesday, October 20

    • Rami Malek (The War at Home) - Watch Rami on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Issa Rae (Insecure) - Issa appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Billy Bob Thornton (Hearts Afire) - Billy Bob is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Jamie Foxx (Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!/The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
    • Leah Remini (Kevin Can Wait/The Exes/Family Tools/The King of Queens/Fired Up) - Leah guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Debra Messing (Will & Grace/Ned & Stacey) - Debra talks about her latest project: how self-care can change the world on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
    • Ron Howard (Arrested Development/Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) and Clint Howard (Gung Ho) - Ron and Clint discuss their new book, The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Amy Sedaris (No Activity/BoJack Horseman/Strangers with Candy) - It's a TV exclusive with sister and brother duo Amy and David Sedaris appearing together for the first time on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) - Jeremy talks about FBI on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • David Eigenberg (Sex and the City) - David talks about NBC's Chicago Fire on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick talks about Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (June-October)

    Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Young Sheldon - The Complete Fourth Season Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)

    06/08 - The Critic - The Complete Series
    06/08 - Fuller House - The Fifth and Final Season
    06/08 - Fuller House - The Complete Series
    06/08 - Our Cartoon President - Season 3
    06/15 - The Office - Season 1 (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9
    06/15 - Parks and Recreation - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    07/07 - No Activity - Season 2
    07/13 - The Unicorn - Season 2
    07/20 - Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season
    07/27 - Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
    07/27 - Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
    07/27 - The Neighborhood - Season Three
    08/20 - The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - Deluxe Edition (100 Episodes) (Time Life)
    08/20 - The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - Standard Edition (50 Episodes) (Time Life)
    08/24 - The Jim Gaffigan Show - Season 2
    09/07 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
    10/19 - Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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