Monday, February 6, 2017

Pilot Review: Superior Donuts

Superior Donuts (CBS)
Premiered February 2 at 8:30pm

It’s interesting to see that there are still traditional laugh-track sitcoms premiering these days, something that used to be the norm twenty and even fifteen years ago and is now a real rarity. I’ve written before that I’m hardly surprised that CBS is the network doing this, since it still airs a handful of well-regarded sitcoms with laugh tracks, most notably “The Big Bang Theory,” which continues to be an awards magnet even if it’s not quite as popular as it used to be. What this new offering, “Superior Donuts,” represents, is very much like a lot of what CBS has recently tried to do, with the clash between the older and younger generations that exists on “The Great Indoors” and the old-fashioned struggling food provider mentality of “2 Broke Girls.” Neither of those shows is particularly intellectual, and don’t worry – this one isn’t either. There are two notable faces from sitcoms that have since made their mark doing more dramatic work – Judd Hirsch and Katey Sagal. It’s especially disappointing to see Sagal stuck on this show because of how great she was playing against type on “Sons of Anarchy,” and now she’s relegated to being a wise-cracking cop who spends most of her day in a donut shop. David Koechner and Maz Jobrani are also familiar faces from TV roles, and while I don’t know Jermaine Fowler, he does at least seem to be game for what this show wants to accomplish and pretty energetic while doing it. I had no idea that this was based on a Broadway play by Tracy Letts, and I definitely would not have associated this old-school, generally unfunny sitcom with something nearly that sophisticated.

How will it work as a series? Franco has already proven his worth when it comes to his forward-thinking social media ideas, and it didn’t take long at all for Arthur to cough up his life savings to help bail him out of trouble. From there, we can expect plenty of jokes and sarcasm going forward, but also a fruitful partnership that might be endearing. If only the characters and the humor was slightly more advanced.
How long will it last? Apparently, this show actually did pretty well in its debut airing, and even though its reviews haven’t been great, it seems that there is an appeal to a show with a young African-American actor and an eighty-one-year-old veteran comedian at the helm. I think this one might actually get renewed, though I would never advise such a move.

Pilot grade: D