Saturday, December 5, 2015

Pilot Review: Superstore

Superstore (NBC)
Premiered November 30 at 10pm

This is an interesting strategy that NBC is employing: launching two of its midseason shows with back-to-back episodes a month before they air together, getting excitement up before they actually begin. The first of these shows is this one, set in a Walmart-type store that has everything but doesn’t really have much of anything. Make no mistake about it: this show has a lot of elements that make it a terrible, typical sitcom, most notably two absolutely unbearable characters, Mark McKinney’s brainless manager Glenn and Lauren Ash’s commando employee Dina, both of whom are completely devoid of social skills. Other characters, like airheaded Cheyenne, played by Nichole Bloom, who recurred as Amanda on “Shameless,” and her idiot musician boyfriend exist somewhere between good and bad. Wheelchair-bound comedian Garrett and eager-to-please newbie Mateo definitely lean much more towards awful than good. But then there are two saving graces: Ben Feldman and America Ferrera. Feldman seems to have a knack for this, starring most recently in the quickly-canceled “A to Z,” which also just had its stars going for it. He brings a charm to this role that is equaled by his ability to put his foot in his mouth and say the wrong thing. Ferrera, who was great on “Ugly Betty,” packs on the aggressive sarcasm in a role that’s very fun to see her play. This is relatively simple comedy, but I think the stars make it worth it, at least enough to watch a few episodes, including the third episode, which is available on and I’ll review next week.

How will it work as a series? Episode two confirmed that the store and its corporate nature will be the primary focus of this show, with plotlines like everything in the store being priced at twenty-five cents and handicapped employees always ending up on the cover of the company magazine taking center stage. That sounds moderately entertaining and moderately exasperating, which should serve as a solid analysis of this show.
How will it work as a series? We won’t know for sure until the series officially premieres in January, but it’s off to a good start, with commendable ratings for the first episode and impressive holdover for the second. NBC could use a hit comedy, and it’s looking like this could be a contender. It’s early, but I think a second season could be in the cards.

Pilot grade: C+

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