Tuesday, August 15, 2017

NBC Summer Pilot Review: Marlon - Premieres Wednesday (August 16); Netflix Has the Best Worst Weekend Ever

Marlon

Marlon - Wednesdays at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT

by Skees

Marlon (Marlon Wayans) and Ashley (Essence Atkins) are a loving couple who just can't quite love each other enough to stay married, but that doesn't stop them from spending plenty of time together. That's the premise of NBC's newest comedy, Marlon, which is based upon Wayans' real life experiences of co-parenting and trying to love each other as much as two divorced people can.

Cast Details:

Marlon Wayans as Marlon
Essence Atkins as Ashley
Notlim Taylor as Marley
Amir O'Neil as Zackery 
Datillo Riddle as Stevie
Bresha Webb as Yvette

Marlon Wayans (Marlon) stars in the series, playing a character named (appropriately enough) Marlon. As one of the siblings of the well-known Wayans family, his first prominent role came in the fourth season of In Living Color, which was the last season that the Wayans family was involved in that series. He bounced back rather quickly with The Wayans Bros. on The WB, where he starred alongside brother Shawn. Along the way, he has also appeared in numerous movies, mostly parody films.

Essence Atkins (Ashley) plays Marlon's ex-wife. She is known for her roles in Smart Guy and Half & Half. Additionally, she appeared in the TBS series Are We There Yet? Her career began in the 80s with guest starring roles on series such as The Cosby Show and Family Matters.

Notlim Taylor (Marley) plays Marlon and Ashley's daughter. She has had guest roles in Real Husbands of Hollywood, Instant Mom, and black-ish.

Amir O'Neil (Zackery) plays Marlon and Ashley's son. He has appeared in the series Mann and Wife.

Diallo Riddle (Stevie) has appeared in Silicon Valley, but has spent most of his career in writing, where he has worked on Chocolate News and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Bresha Webb (Yvette) has had recurring roles in both of the truly iconic medical dramas of the past decade and a half (namely Grey's Anatomy and ER), and also starred in the series Love That Girl! She also starred in the short-lived NBC sitcom Truth Be Told.

Pilot Plot:

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

"Pilot" (Airs August 16 at 9:00PM ET)

Marlon is trying to adjust to his life as a divorced man in the pilot (as well as adjusting to his friend Stevie, who has been living on his couch for years), where we're introduced to the entire family as well as his internet vlog.

"Cleaning Out the Closet" (Airs August 16 at 9:30PM ET)

Marlon and Ashley share a storage unit, but it has to go, and that means Marlon has to go back and take out his memories from 1997. But he finds out that letting go is much harder than anticipated.

"Boys Only Want One Thing" (Airs August 23 at 9:00PM ET)

Marlon's daughter, Marley, is bringing a boy home from school, which is very hard for him to accept. But it only becomes harder to accept when he learns that the boy looks like a grown man.

"Exes with Benefits" (Airs August 23 at 9:30PM ET)

Marlon and Ashley learn that 38% of all exes continue to have sex after they break up, and they're part of the other 62%... and now, given that they are already sharing much of their lives together anyway, they want to figure out if being part of that 38% is something that they want to do.

Analysis:

I went into this show with high expectations, as NBC had promoted it in a way to make it look like it was going to be similar to The Carmichael Show, which this show has effectively replaced. I was lukewarm on that series originally, but it very quickly grew on me to become one of my favorite sitcoms on TV. Unfortunately, this series just doesn't live up to that series at all. It's more of a standard sitcom that doesn't really delve into any controversy at all. That isn't to say that a series needs to be all about controversial topics to be good, but it has to have something, and I'm not really sure what this series has.

It does have a good cast, which sort of amazes me. How could they have taken a cast like this and used it so poorly? Marlon Wayans didn't quite stand out on In Living Color the way that his siblings did, but he did shine with his brother Shawn on The Wayans Bros. (which I never watched even once during the original run, but became a fan of through DVDs and syndication). Essence Atkins also did pretty well for herself on Smart Guy (something else worth pointing out is that I never really knew how old she was, and was surprised to learn that she was 25 years old when that series started, but playing a high school student). She was also in the TBS TV series version of Are We There Yet?, which somehow became the red-haired stepchild of the TBS comedies of that era even though it was about the only one that I truly liked. I felt like a show with a starring cast like that could carry itself along just fine, but I'm sort of reminded of another series that had an even more stellar cast, the Fox series Back to You that started Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton, that fizzled very quickly. So clearly, a cast can't carry a series along.

The pilot goes really slow. I've always contended that it is hard to judge a series based solely upon the pilot, because they have this incredibly difficult job of introducing you to the characters while also trying to tell a good story, and it is hard to cram that all into one episode. But truth be told, there was really not any story of significance in the pilot other than introducing the characters.

I really don't get the whole element of Marlon's YouTube vlogging (that's video blogging for the less tech savvy) as it is in the series. They seem to want to make that a focal point of the series, all of the things that he is doing for his vlog, but nothing about the vlog seems to fit it at all with the series. It sort of reminds of Last Man Standing where Tim Allen's character Mike Baxter was forced to do the vlogs for his work, and it always seemed out of place and bizarre in that series, and even more so here.

I just don't know what this series is supposed to be about other than the co-parenting, which really does take co-parenting to a whole new level. If you didn't watching, then you would assume that Marlon and Ashley are still happily married and living together. And it actually does happen far more often than people realize that two people can be divorced and still care about each other, but this series hardly even gives you the impression that they're divorced.

Finally, one more thing that bothered me about the series is that Marlon Wayans (much like his siblings) is known for being funny. This series just sort of wasn't. There were little things that made me smile here and there, but I was disappointed that there wasn't more.

Conclusion:

I can't say that I have high hopes for this series. I made it through the first four episodes hoping to find some things to like about it, but I really didn't find a lot. It's not that the cast is a problem, it is just that I can't figure out what it is that is supposed to make me interested in the series. I've certainly been wrong about certain series before, including some that I've been skeptical about that I actually ended up liking quite well (The Carmichael Show is a great example of this, as I was unsure of it at first and it quickly became a favorite of mine), but I'm not sure what will keep this series from being cancelled after the summer run is finished. If it does find an audience and fanbase, though, I would hope that NBC would give this series a better chance than being "summer filler," because I'd hate to see this show get the same treatment that The Carmichael Show (which probably could have found a better audience had it not been an annual summer burnoff) received from the network. If there's nothing better to watch and you happen to come across this, whether live on NBC or on demand, you won't necessarily be wasting your time to give this show a chance, because there might be something that you like here. But don't get your expectations too high. 

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 3/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 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
  • Marlon Photo Gallery


  • Preview:





    Netflix

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