Wednesday, January 06, 2021

NBC Midseason Pilot Review: Mr. Mayor - Premieres Thursday (Jan. 7); One Tree Hill Duo Return for Comedy Series on Hulu

Mr. Mayor


Mr. Mayor - Thursdays at 8:00PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 8:00PM & 8:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

Mr. Mayor follows a retired businessman who runs for mayor of Los Angeles to prove he's "still got it." Once he wins, he has to figure out what he stands for, gain the respect of his biggest critic and connect with his teenage daughter, all while trying to get anything right for America's second weirdest city.

Cast Details:

Ted Danson as Mayor Neil Bremer
Bobby Moynihan as Jayden Kwapis
Holly Hunter as Arpi Meskimen
Mike Cabellon as Tommy Tomás
Vella Lovell as Mikaela Shaw
Kyla Kennedy as Orly Bremer

Ted Danson (Mayor Neil Bremer) is a veteran sitcom actor known, of course, for his iconic role as Sam Malone on the classic NBC comedy Cheers. More recently, he was known as Michael on the critic and fan beloved sitcom The Good Place and his other TV work includes Becker, CSI, Damages and Help Me Help You.

Bobby Moynihan (Jayden Kwapis) is best known for being a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 2008 to 2017. He is also known for his voice work on TV shows and films such as DuckTales, The Secret Life of Pets and Monsters University.

Holly Hunter (Arpi Meskimen) is an actress known for her roles in films such as The Incredibles, Raising Arizona, and Crash, as well as her role in TV shows Saving Grace and Succession.

Mike Cabellon (Tommy Tomás) is a comedian known for his role on shows such as Orange Is the New Black, Crashing, and High Maintenance.

Vella Lovell (Mikaela Shaw) is an actress best known as Heather on the fan beloved musical comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and for her guest roles on shows such as Younger and Girls.

Kyla Kennedy (Orly Bremer) is an actress best known for playing Dylan DiMeo on the ABC sitcom Speechless. She also starred in the television film Raising Izzie and the AMC horror series The Walking Dead.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs Thursday, January 7 at 8:00PM ET)

In the series premiere, Neil Bremer (Ted Danson) starts his first day as mayor of Los Angeles, where he faces new challenges on the job and at home. Also starring Holly Hunter, Bobby Moynihan, Mike Cabellon, Vella Lovell and Kyla Kenedy.

Analysis:

Mr. Mayor is one of the most anticipated new shows of the TV season, and not only because this is a TV season fairly light on new TV shows. The sitcom comes from the minds of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, who have been some of the most respected modern comedy writers. They, of course, were the creators of the brilliant 30 Rock, which I'd rank among the best sitcoms of all time, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which I wouldn't rank quite as highly but was still an incredibly creative and hilarious show, and one of the funniest sitcoms of the streaming era. So Mr. Mayor has some pretty big shoes to fill. Unfortunately, at least in its first two episodes, Mr. Mayor doesn't seem able to do that, as it simply doesn't live up to the lofty expectations I had for a Fey/Carlock sitcom. Looked at as a regular broadcast sitcom, it's a solid example of the form, with a killer cast and a handful of funny lines. But whereas 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt felt like unique breaths of fresh air in their own rights, Mr. Mayor feels like a slightly above average NBC sitcom.

The biggest issue I have with Mr. Mayor is the the characters, at this point, simply feel too generic, lacking the funny specificity that made the characters of 30 Rock and Kimmy Schmidt so iconic. Danson's Mayor Brenner specifically is a problem, not due to any fault of his own, but he just doesn't really have much of a point of view other than "guy who is mayor who probably shouldn't be." I do think that part of this is because Mr. Mayor was initially envisioned as a 30 Rock spin-off with Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy in the place of Danson, and it feels like in these early episodes, the writers haven't quite figured out what makes Brenner tick yet. However, some of the other characters are also issues. Holly Hunter's Apri is too screechy and one-dimensional, recalling some of Kimmy Schmidt's most groan-worthy political satire. There is certainly room for satire of the social justice orientated crowd, but as was the issue on Kimmy Schmidt, the satire is just a bit too broad here, nothing more interesting than what you’d find in a Twitter thread. The best character so far is Bobby Moynihan's Jayden (he has the best line in either episode when he declares himself "the first Jayden, the original Jayden," referring to the fact that he's seemingly the only Jaden born before the '90s), who taps into that 30 Rock/Kimmy Schmidt specific weirdness the most. I'd like to see more of that kind of humor, as that's where Fey/Carlock really shine in their writing.

Luckily, if NBC gives it a chance, I think there's a lot of potential for Mr. Mayor to eventually work out its kinks and become a great sitcom. The cast is excellent, doing their best with mostly average material, and the concept certainly has promise. It would be fun to see the unique eye that Fey/Carlock had on NYC in their previous sitcoms be transported to LA. And it's important to note that sitcoms, even great ones, often don't come out of the gate swinging. 30 Rock's first few episodes were fairly average as well, and like Mr. Mayor, felt more like a generic broadcast sitcom than what the show would become. (Kimmy Schmidt was weird and proud pretty much right out of the gate, but that's probably why NBC had cold feet about it and sent it to Netflix.) The world could use some great new Fey/Carlock comedy, so hopefully Mr. Mayor sticks around long enough to discover what really makes it work.

Conclusion:

Mr. Mayor is a funny enough distraction during a season with less broadcast content than usual, even if it doesn't live up to the standards of its predecessors 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, at least not yet. There are hints of things that could eventually turn this into must-watch TV in the way those shows were, as long as the show can find a more original and funny pathways for humor with its characters than the first two episodes provide. Still, in a world desperately in need of some laughs, Mr. Mayor can provide those, even if it's not quite as many as I hoped for.



Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.5/5
Funniness: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 8:00PM & 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Mr. Mayor Photo Gallery

    Preview:

  • Everyone Is Doing Great

    The boys are back and...better than ever? Watch James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti in Everyone Is Doing Great, a new comedy series on January 13, only on Hulu. 8 episodes will premiere. Hulu released the first teaser of the comedy, which the former One Tree Hill cast members also wrote and produced. The series follows Seth Stewart (Colletti) and Jeremy Davis (Lafferty), who enjoyed relative success from Eternal, a hit television vampire drama, according to IMDb. Five years after their show has ended, they lean on each other as they struggle to reclaim their previous level of success and relevance, awkwardly navigating the perils of life and love amidst a humorously painful coming of age. The series also stars Alexandra Park (The Royals), as Andrea Cooper-Davis, Jeremy's wife who supports her husband both financially and emotionally.


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    Friday, February 3

    • Eddie Murphy (The PJs) - Watch Eddie on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
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    • Craig Robinson (Killing It/Ghosted/Mr. Robinson/The Office/Lucky) - Craig is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jennifer Grey (Red Oaks/It's Like, You Know...) - Jennifer talks about taking on the controversial role of religious leader and Christian diet guru in her Lifetime film Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
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