Monday, September 29, 2014

Pilot Review: Black-ish

Black-ish (ABC)
Premiered September 24 at 9:30pm

I’ll admit that my expectations for this show were astronomically low after seeing previews for the show and realizing that I’m about as far outside its target demographic as can be. The show’s title isn’t exactly promising either. Going into this pilot with these preconceived notions actually helped me have a better experience than I otherwise might have. This show isn’t terrific by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also far more bearable than most of the shows that ABC has tried to pair with its juggernaut hit “Modern Family” over the past few years. A big part of that is Anthony Anderson, whose last TV effort, “Guys with Kids,” was pretty miserable. I remember him as being terrific during the time he spent recurring on “The Shield” in a more uncharacteristically dramatic role, and I’m glad to see that he’s equally capable of delivering a successful comedy performance, a fact that shouldn’t prove surprising given his background. That’s not to suggest that this show is superb, since there are still plenty of unfortunate moments and the reality of a “Bro Mitzvah.” Dre’s reaction to being put in charge of the Urban Division was a bit extreme, but that’s what this show is all about, reacting to stereotypes and other assumptions with a comic attitude. Anderson is certainly putting in more effort than his most famous costar, Laurence Fishburne, who is relegated to snooty one-liners and pointing out his family’s ridiculousness at every occasion. I certainly won’t watch this show, but it was admittedly much better than I had thought it would be.

How will it work as a series? Dre has managed to accept his situation for what it is, to a degree, and he’ll likely still get himself into trouble for raising hell where there doesn’t need to be hell raised. His family should prove entertaining, and this has exactly the right structure for a successful sitcom.
How long will it last? As with its quality, this show outperformed what had been the status quo in its timeslot, suggesting that it may just be what ABC is looking for to round out its comedy block on Wednesday nights. It’s too soon to tell, but this one may actually be a keeper.

Pilot grade: B-

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