Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pop Mid-Season Pilot Review: Return of the Mac - Premieres Tonight (April 12); GSN to Air Hollywood Game Night Reruns

Return of the Mac

Return of the Mac - Wednesdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on Pop
Premieres Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

Return of the Mac is a scripted comedy starring boy band heartthrob Joey McIntyre as a version of himself alongside his real-life family - wife Barrett and their three children, Griffin (8), Rhys (6) and Kira (5). As he embarks on a hilarious quest to be taken seriously as a legit actor, Joey is thrown into the reluctant role of a talk show host at a fledgling cable network called The Comfy Channel. As Joey starts to navigate the talk show circuit, he is joined by his often misguided manager and team played by a hysterical cast.

Cast Details:

Joey McIntyre as Himself
Adam Ray as Alex
Jamie Denbo as Sam
Punam Patel as Soozie
Jordan Black as Jordan

Joey McIntyre is a music artist and actor formerly of the popular boy band New Kids on the Block. He is also an actor, appearing in films such as The Heat and Tony n Tina's Wedding and in several off-Broadway productions along with the sitcom The McCarthys.

Adam Ray (Alex) is a comic actor who has appeared in comedy films such as The Heat and Ghostbusters (2016), as well as in TV series such as MAD TV and Rick and Morty.

Jamie Denbo (Sam) is a television actress and comedian known for her role on the FX cult classic Terriers. She also appeared on various other television shows, including Happy Endings, How I Met Your Mother, Speechless, and The Real O'Neals.

Punam Patel (Soozie) is an actress known for her roles in series such as Kevin from Work, Life in Pieces, East Los High, and Movie Nights.

Jordan Black (Jordan) is an actor who has appeared in films such as Bridesmaids and Bewitched and in various television shows, such as Community, Life in Pieces, and True Jackson VP.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs April 12 at 8:30PM ET)

Joe goes to the Comfy Channel to pitch a drama series but is bait-and-switched into hosting his own late night talk show instead.

Analysis:

TV shows that center around show business can be tricky. There are many that succeed – in fact, shows centering around people working in the industry has been a bit of a trend in the last 10 years or so – but it's so easy for shows about, well, shows to feel self-congratulatory and exclusive, given that the large majority of television viewers are completely unfamiliar with the inner workings of the industry. "Inside baseball" shows need to prove their worth – why should we interested in watching a show about people whose everyday lives are so far removed from ours? Some shows answer this quandary by being bitingly satirical, getting laughs out of making fun of the grand excess of show business (such as 30 Rock or The Larry Sanders Show), while others take an earnest approach and attempt to focus on celebrities as people rather than, well, celebrities (such as autobiographical comedies like Louie or Maron). Return of the Mac seems to want to handle both approaches – at times, it feels like it's trying to be an off-the-wall, 30 Rock-esque take down of the entertainment industry, and at other times it wants us to truly understand and sympathize with Joey's struggles. Unfortunately, this unsteady balance makes Return of the Mac feel unformed and directionless, and as a result, the show just never quite works.

The show's satire is far less pointed than it wants to be, but there are times where it does land, particularly when it's hanging out with the Cozy Network executives, who are genuinely funny and even feel like a somewhat fresh angle on bland network content directions. The show feels like it's at its most comfortable when it's lampooning some of the more left-field antics of the industry that a former child star might have to deal with, such as when it's tearing down the fake artificial sweetness of network exec meetings or a Dancing With the Stars-spoofing Celebrity Trapeeze show in the pilot. What really lets the show down is the lack of any reason why we should be expected to care about anything that happens to Joey other than the fact that he's a former boy band member who was pretty famous once. Joey is pretty awful to his wife and kids through-out the two episodes screened for critics, and it's not apparent that the show is aware of it or interested in calling him out on it. We're constantly told that he's a great actor, but we don't see any real evidence of it, which makes it hard to root for his successes. Really, all you need to know about the show's priorities comes from the fact that "Joey settles for a late-night talk show gig" is apparently supposed to elicit sympathy from the audience. The characters of Return of the Mac are incredibly privileged, shallow and have little self-awareness, which would be fine if the show seemed interested in calling them out on it – unfortunately, it doesn't, and the show ultimately feels like a lot of narcissistic navel-gazing, with the occasional funny punchline.

Conclusion:

Return of the Mac has some glimmers of being a solid showbiz satire, and there are moments where it's genuinely funny, particularly when it's leaning into its more biting side. Unfortunately, the show struggles with a cast of characters who are pretty unlikable, and it's not apparent that the show is aware of it. While it could be a show that calls out some of the more ridiculous aspects of working in the entertainment industry, it seems more interested in exploring those excesses rather than satirizing them, which makes the show feel self-obsessed and hollow, with an occasional solid punchline that's not enough to make it feel worthwhile.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 2.5/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 2/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Pop Official Site
  • TV.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Return of the Mac Photo Gallery

    Preview:




  • Hollywood Game Night - Jane Lynch

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