Thursday, September 27, 2007

Never Judge A Show by It's Pilot: Back to You. (CLICK PODCAST)

My first impression of Back to You is that this show should be good because you have a winning team in front of the camera (Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton) and behind the camera (James Burrows). I also have two questions or concerns about the show since it takes place in a fictional TV newsroom. First why are they doing a "behind the scenes" show? I have heard from many people who work in television on both the creative and business ends (Don’t ask me to name names) and all say, “The Networks do not want "behind the scenes" shows”. I would think especially in light of the lack of an audience for last season's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip everyone would stay away from "behind the scenes" shows. I am also curious if the fictional news program in the show will be covering topical stories like they did on Murphy Brown or will they be detached from current events like they were on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

I watched the pilot. I have to say that I've already seen this. I was hoping for something more comparable to Murphy Brown or The Mary Tyler Moore Show but instead this reminded me more of Good Morning, Miami, especially the Latina character Montana Diaz Herrera (Ayda Field). Celebrated news anchor Chuck Darling (Kelsey Grammer) returns home to the Pittsburgh TV station where he began he career. The back-story was nicely done with news clips including one on YouTube where Chuck Darling looses his cool. Darling is reunited with co-anchor Kelly Carr (Patricia Heaton), but emotional wounds run deep. Not only did they sleep together on Darling's last night in town, unbeknownst to Darling, they had a child together. The rest of the show is a collection of sophomoric one-liners and sexual innuendoes (It's on FOX, Duh!). There is a touching moment at the end of the episode when Darling meets his daughter for the first time but I expect better considering the talent pool in front of and behind the camera. I understand that some pilots have to spend a great deal of time on the premise and the story suffers because of it. I don't think that this is the case here, but I never judge a show by it's pilot.

I saw the next episode titled Fish Story. Chuck Darling receives a goldfish as a gift from station management. The gift symbolizes Darling being a big fish in a small pond. Darling over feeds the fish and it dies. Darling does not want Kelly to see that he killed a fish when he is trying to prove to her that he is ready to be a father. All through the episode replacement after replacement fish comically dies. Some of the jokes are laugh out funny and others are painfully predictable. Again the episode ends with a tender moment featuring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton. Sophomoric one-liners and sexual innuendoes with a touching moment at the end does not a sitcom make. The sitcom bar has been raised in the last few years with shows like My Name Is Earl and The Office. Considering the talent pool associated with this show I am surprised to see the bar lowered.

To quote Ray Romano’s censored monologue at the Emmy’s, “Frasier is screwing my wife”.

PS: That line is tamer that many of the jokes on the show.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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