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, November 20

    The Goldbergs - "Angst-Giving" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Even though Beverly’s patience with Pop Pop is put to the test due to his endless Thanksgiving demands, she is able to put aside her own feelings to help heal the longstanding rift between Murray and Pop Pop. Meanwhile, Barry and Erica are ready to return home for the holiday, but Uncle Marvin accidentally drives them to Pittsburgh. Marvin attempts to make it right not knowing if they will make it to Jenkintown in time to celebrate the holiday. Judd Hirsch and Dan Fogler return to guest star as Pop Pop and Uncle Marvin.

    Schooled - "Friendsgiving" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    CB celebrates Thanksgiving by having all of William Penn rally around him after a cooking incident at his house, while the alumni faculty football game brings out the competitive sides of Wilma and Coach Mellor.

    Modern Family - "The Last Thanksgiving" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Cameron and Mitchell’s friends mistakenly assume they have split up and have definitely chosen a side; and Haley attempts to cook Thanksgiving dinner as a thank you for Claire and Phil’s support with the twins. Meanwhile, Jay invites Phil and Dylan out to fly his model plane, and Phil thinks this is his chance to reclaim his dignity after their first outing 10 years ago went so wrong.

    Single Parents - "Every Thursday Should Be Like This" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    When Will gets busy cooking Thanksgiving dinner at Douglas’ home, he asks Angie to hang out with Tracy Freeze (guest star Jama Williamson). Angie reluctantly does so, only to realize that Tracy is actually wonderful, except for a secret she’s keeping from Will. Meanwhile, Miggy shows up to Thanksgiving dinner with the kids’ teacher, Ms. Pronstroller (Sarah Yarkin), as his date, and he enlists Douglas’ assistance in helping them form an in-person connection, given all of their previous communication has been via texts, DMs and memes.

    It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "A Woman's Right to Chop" / "Waiting for Big Mo" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Trapped inside Paddy's with a suicidal jumper on the roof, the gang wonders if it should bother intervening; Dennis ponders the reasons of playing laser tag and if the pursuit of a victory is worth the effort.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 18)

    Wednesday, November 20

    • Adam Driver (Girls) - Watch Adam on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Julie Andrews (Julie) - Julie stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS. She will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Michael Rapaport (Awkward/The War at Home) and Tony Rock (Living Biblically/All of Us) - Michael and Tony are panelists on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
    • Dax Shepard (Bless This Mess) - Dax visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig appears on a repeat of LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory/Roseanne) - Johnny is a guest on a repeat of LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Brie Larson (United States of Tara/Raising Dad) - Brie appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Lena Waithe (Master of None) - Lena is a guest on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Ed Quinn (One Day at a Time/2 Broke Girls) - Ed visits The Real, do check your local listings.
    • Tisha Campbell (Dr. Ken/Rita Rocks/My Wife and Kids/Martin) - Tisha guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Maura Tierney (NewsRadio) - Maura talks about The Report on People Now at 12pm.
    • Robin Givens (Head of the Class) - Robin talks about OWN's Ambition on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens/Anything But Love) - Jamie Lee talks about Knives Out on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
    • Ashley Williams (The Jim Gaffigan Show/Good Morning, Miami) - Ashley talks about Holiday Hearts on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October/November)

    My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season Life with Lucy - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season

    09/03 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 9th Season
    09/03 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fifth Season
    09/03 - The Goldbergs - The Complete Sixth Season
    09/03 - Single Parents - The Complete Season One
    09/03 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season
    09/04 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete First Season
    09/10 - American Dad! - Volume 14
    09/10 - The Jetsons - The Complete Original Series (Blu-ray) (WBShop.com)
    09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One
    09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume Two
    09/17 - Friends - The Complete Series (25th Anniversary)
    09/17 - Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season
    09/19 - Angel from Hell - The DVD Edition
    09/19 - The Guest Book - Season 1
    10/08 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series
    10/08 - Life with Lucy - The Complete Series
    10/15 - Mom - The Complete Sixth Season
    10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 1
    10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 2
    11/05 - The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang - The Complete Animated Series
    11/05 - Laverne & Shirley in the Army (Animated Series) - The DVD Edition
    11/05 - Letterkenny - Seasons 1 & 2
    11/05 - Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
    11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season (Blu-ray)
    11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Series (Blu-ray Limited Edition)
    11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
    11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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    11/06 - Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family & Good Times on Dec. 18; NBC Orders More Superstore Episodes
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