Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pilot Review: The Carmichael Show

The Carmichael Show (NBC)
Premiered August 26 at 9pm

Now that “Mr. Robinson” has wrapped its six-episode season, NBC is giving another comedian the chance to anchor his own series with two episodes airing per week over the course of three weeks. The star this time is Jerrod Carmichael, who plays a version of himself. This is a very typical sitcom in a lot of ways, structuring it around one central adult couple and another adult couple who spend an inordinate amount of time with their parents. Jerrod is in many ways the straight man, as most of the personalities around him are extremely exaggerated. His brother is a security guard who has trouble getting taken seriously, and his ex-wife, who pretends that they are still married, is a loud, obnoxious woman who actually seems like a perfect fit for the man who used to be her husband. Jerrod’s father Joe is a typical laidback patriarch who just wants to be left alone and eat his ribs, while his mother Cynthia has considerably more energy and flair, but also possesses a deep connection to the bible and living a spiritual life. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the show’s other main character, Maxine, who is Jerrod’s live-in girlfriend and who is deeper and more substantial than she ought to be given the rest of the players on this show. At times, this show lands a good punchline, and these actors certainly know how to spout off dialogue, but otherwise it’s not terribly memorable or worthwhile.

How will it work as a series? In the first two episodes, they’ve already tackled religion, race, and the importance of birthdays. This show seems to want to confront current issues head-on with humor, like racial profiling and police brutality, but I don’t think it tries too hard to make a joke of them without really creating a substantial and satisfying comedic or dramatic narrative.
How long will it last? The ratings for this hour-long first airing were pretty solid, and so it may well live on to see a second season. The summer slate is really picking up for the broadcast networks, and this could well prove to be a good anchor for them. I wouldn’t get too attached just yet, but consider this one firmly on the bubble.

Pilot grade: C

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