Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pilot Review: One Day at a Time

One Day at a Time (Netflix)
Premiered January 6

Netflix is big in the TV game now, and it stands to reason that the network would feature shows of many different genres. Most modern-day comedies don’t have laugh tracks anymore, but I do believe that there still exists a fan base for more traditional sitcoms. We also live in an era of countless remakes and reboots, and often attempts to revive series with a whole new cast and fresh premise fail miserably. Though I can’t say I’ve seen an episode of the long-running hit show “One Day at a Time,” which ran on CBS from 1975 to 1984, I think that this offering qualifies as a decent success. I’m not sure anyone was clamoring for it (they so rarely are - “Gilmore Girls” might be the one exception), but it’s still cool to see a show about a single mom who, like her ex-husband, served in Afghanistan and can assemble a rifle in thirteen seconds, something that others don’t get about her just from looking at her. I’ve been a fan of Justina Machado ever since her recurring and later series regular role as Vanessa, Federico’s wife, on what may well be the best show ever made, “Six Feet Under.” That was obviously a supporting, sometimes background part, and as a result it’s great to see her take center stage here and accept the responsibility with full commitment and energy. Rita Moreno gets a big showcase, and I think that’s fun for a certain audience and lends a degree of credibility to this show. Some of the jokes are familiar and unoriginal, but for the most part, this specialty family sitcom actually works pretty well. I won’t be watching, but I wouldn’t hate the idea of seeing an episode every now and then.

How will it work as a series? There’s plenty of material here for any kind of family, and the Cuban heritage, immigrant culture, and so much more assure that this series could go on forever. Thirteen episodes premiered all at once last week, and I have to imagine that they’re filled with the same kind of humor as this episode and work just fine.
How long will it last? Ratings data is unavailable and not too helpful anyway since Netflix really just does what it wants (and has renewed basically every adult-targeted series it’s premiered). Reviews have been largely positive, so I’d expect this to be one of their token sitcoms, and it’s a hell of a lot better than “The Ranch.”

Pilot grade: B

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