Friday, September 07, 2018

Fri-Yay: The Prevailing Popularity of The Office; Fox Fall Pilot Review: Rel - Premieres Sunday (Sept. 9)

It's time for another edition of Fri-Yay! That means we will take a look back on some sitcom happenings in recent days or weeks or other fun sitcomy stuff. It's a sitcom lover's paradise! Happy Fri-Yay!

The Office

by Vincent

From every generation, it seems there's at least a few shows that rise above the others and stand the test of time, to the point where they almost feel distinct from their eras. These shows play endlessly in syndication to the point where future generations attatch to them just as much as fans did in their original run. In the '80s, that show was Cheers, in the '90s, it was Friends and Seinfeld and in the '00s, I think we're far enough removed to pick what show that is - The Office.

This isn't to slam other '00s-era comedies like Arrested Development, 30 Rock or Scrubs, or even multi-cam hits from the era like Everybody Loves Raymond - all shows I enjoy. However, The Office has reached a ubiquity that few shows are able to achieve in their life spans. Fans young and old have been finding the show on Netflix and falling in love with its cringe-awkward humor, clever one-liners, and surprisingly enthralling character dynamics. Those other shows have prevailed, too, but just like Cheers, Seinfeld and Friends before it, The Office seems to be becoming a universal, timeless series not specifically tied to the era it aired in. You wouldn't think of The Office as "a 2000s show" just as you don't necessarily immediately think of the '80s with Cheers - it's a universal series whose humor and character development can be accessible for anyone.

So why is The Office so prevailingly prevalent? Personally, I'd say that the show's form of existential-dread humor mixed with heartfelt character moments fits in perfectly with the current comedy landscape - it's not hard to draw a line from The Office to 2010s "sadcoms" like Bojack Horseman or You're the Worst, which similarly balance a goofy sense of humor with in-depth characterization. Additionally, The Office was never particularly tapped into current culture - much like Seinfeld and Cheers. While the show made occasional pop culture references, it was mostly grounded in the reality of Dunder-Mifflin. That allows people - no matter their age or when they're watching it - to relate to the show's antics. Additionally, the show's setting is universal and relatable to many people - most of us have jobs, and we all can relate to the feelings of dread, boredom, amusement, and surprise that come with them, as well as the basic archetypes of the show's characters, just as the bar on Cheers was a place where "everyone knew your name" (something we could all relate to). All of this means that I expect The Office to grow in popularity rather than lose it, and I wouldn't be surprised if we're still talking about the show's enduring popularity years down the road.


Rel

Rel - Sundays at 9:30PM ET/PT on Fox Starting September 30 
Special Premiere Time: Sunday, September 9, 2018 at 8:00PM ET/PT

by Skees

Rel has it all in life. He's a successful man with a successful career and family... or so he thinks. Things fall apart when his wife has an affair with his barber, and then leaves town with the kids. Now it's up to his brother, best friend, and father to help lift him up and bring things back to normal in life  in Rel, which stars Lil Rel Howery and is produced by his former co-star from The Carmichael Show, Jerrod Carmichael.

Cast Details:

Sinbad as Dad

Lil Rel Howery (Rel) was working a standup comedian in Chicago nearly two decades ago and found his national audience in 2007 on Last Comic Standing. He became even better known playing Bobby on the NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show, and also appeared in the movie Get Out.

Jessica "Jess Hilarious" Moore (Brittany) is a newcomer to the small screen with this series. She has previously found success in online sketch comedy.

Jordan L. Jones (Nat) has appeared in series such as NCIS: Los Angeles and Disjointed. This is also his first regular series role.

Sinbad (Dad) had his first TV role on The Redd Foxx Show, but is best known for his role on A Different World and his own sitcom, The Sinbad Show. More recently, he has appeared in voice roles on series such as Steven Universe and The Lion Guard.


Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs September 9 at 8:00PM ET)

Lil Rel has everything in his life together and everything is going well... until his wife cheats on him with his barber. Now, his wife has left town with his kids and he's without a barber, and can't quite figure out how to adjust to this new life.


Analysis:

I can't say that of all of the sitcoms of the new season that this was the one that I was looking forward to the most. However, I expected a lot of good things from this series and thought that this would be something worth watching. What I got after watching the pilot was disappointment. Lots and lots of disappointment.

The show does have some good things going for it. It does have a great cast, and they're all people that I'm happy to see on a series. Howery's role on The Carmichael Show was hilarious, and it highlighted his talents. It's been a while since we've seen Sinbad on a sitcom, and it's nice to see him back on the small screen. Even the other two starring actors, even if they're unknown (for now), are talented and seem to be on the path to a successful career. It even has a great team of behind-the-scenes players, including Jerrod Carmichael, Mike Scully, and others.

But as I was sitting down to watch this pilot, it wasn't doing a great job of grabbing my attention at all. I lost focus numerous times, and found myself rewinding to rewatch scenes, and finding that what I missed was even more boring than I could have imagined. A pilot can tend to be a little boring as it tells the backstory, but I felt there wasn't even enough of a backstory here at all. It spent an entire 20 or so minutes explaining that Lil Rel got a divorce and was adjusting to a new life because his wife was having an affair with his barber. That's a backstory that could have been told in the first few minutes--and it was, before being played out again through the remaining time of the episode.

We did at least get to meet the barber, which wasn't a particularly interesting exchange, but it would have been nice to have met the ex-wife and perhaps made her a character as entertaining as the character that Tiffany Haddish played as his ex-wife on The Carmichael Show. Of course, I guess that they probably wanted to avoid going down that road of creating clone characters for this series, but I feel that they should have at least had something other than this mysterious ex-wife that we haven't yet met, though to be fair, maybe we'll see her in upcoming episodes, if the series lasts that long.

With a star like Howery, I expected to laugh a lot while watching this pilot. There were a few moments, but it wasn't the laugh out loud type of show that I was expecting. Just a few chuckles here and there, which was very disappointing given the talent that this show has to offer. The laugh track going in the series made things even more painful to watch. It was a little tacky and over the top, and too often laughed at things that really weren't even funny. I get that the show wouldn't work without the laugh track, but really, it isn't working with it either, and it certainly doesn't improve things. I don't necessarily expect all sitcoms to be laugh out loud hilarious, in fact, many of the greatest sitcoms throughout history had very few moments that make you really laugh. But they all made up for it with solid writing, storylines, and characters. Those are sorely lacking here.


Conclusion:

I'm not so sure about this series. I was definitely looking forward to this and wanted so badly to love it, but the pilot just left me filled with so much disappointment. Even worse, I'm not sure how this fits on Fox, which pretty much seems to be laser focused on sitcoms that fit in with Last Man Standing. This one certainly does not. I hate to say it, but I'm going to make a prediction that this may very well be one of the first series of the 2018-2019 season to get cancelled, and aside from liking the cast, I'm not quite sure it is worth saving. Perhaps with a stronger pilot, a case to keep it floating for a while could be made, but I'm not sure how this makes it past a number of episodes that you can count on one hand.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 1.5/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 1.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Sunday, September 9, 2018 at 8:00PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Rel Photo Gallery

    Preview:

  • Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Wednesday, October 23

    The Goldbergs - "Parents Thursday" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    While at school, Erica attempts to fool Beverly into thinking Parents Weekend has been rescheduled to Parents Thursday so the family won’t attend … but the smother knows better! Meanwhile, William Penn is doing “Romeo & Juliet,” the perfect play for Adam to romance Dana until someone else gets the leading lady.

    Schooled - "Outbreak" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
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    Single Parents - "Sport" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Will is pumped to become the coach of Sophie’s soccer team in order to spend more time with his daughter, especially since she has been distant recently. However, his intentions to focus on Sophie and teach the team that you don’t need to win to have fun slowly shift once he realizes he has a secret weapon on his team – Rory – but allowing him on the team means Will must keep a certain secret about Rory. Meanwhile, Douglas and Angie attempt to navigate what their friendship looks like now that they are roommates for the foreseeable future.

    It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "The Gang Texts" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
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    Family Time - "Black Love" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Lisa and Tony appear on a TV show that exposes some of the imperfections in their relationship; Donnie and Brandy use a dating app to play matchmaker for each other.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 21)

    Wednesday, October 23

    • Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/The Office) - Watch Ellie on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method) - Michael stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Kathryn Hahn (Transparent/Happyish/Free Agents) - Kathryn appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Andrea Savage (I'm Sorry/Significant Others) - Andrea is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Jesse Plemons (No Activity/Bent) - Jesse visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also talks about El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie on ABC's GMA 3: Strahan, Sara & Keke at 1pm.
    • Lea Michele (The Mayor/Scream Queens) - Lea drops by A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Tim Robbins (The Brink) - Tim appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Ali Wong (American Housewife/Are You There, Chelsea?) - Ali is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Amanda Seales (Insecure) - Amanda guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings. She also talks about Small Doses on Access Live, so check your local listings.
    • Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Thomas will be on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Ken talks about The Masked Singer on People Now at 12pm and on the BUILD Series at 1pm..
    • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso talks about Catch 21 on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT and on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
    • Alan Alda (M*A*S*H) - Alan talks about the Clear + Vivid Podcast on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Stark Raving Mad/Doogie Howser, M.D.) - Neil is a guest on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
    • Anna Camp (Perfect Harmony/The Mindy Project) - Anna talks about Perfect Harmony on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • Rob Corddry (The Unicorn/Ballers/The Winner) - Rob is a guest on the BUILD Series at 2pm.


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