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

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