Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pilot Review: Back

Back (Sundance Now)
Premiered November 16

Here we have the latest British import to air on the Sundance streaming service, this one without any recognizable actors in the cast but with an influential name in comedy at the helm. Simon Blackwell was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the screenplay for “In the Loop,” is an Emmy-winning writer and producer on “Veep,” and was also involved in a lesser-known movie that I really like, “Four Lions.” Here, he’s created a comedy that isn’t quite as outrageous in nature but definitely features a sad sap trying to make it through life with so many obstacles being thrown at him. Struggling to figure out how to talk to his dead dad seemed hard enough before a foster brother who lived with them years earlier for only five months showed up to steal his spotlight, and the fact that everyone loves Andrew just makes things much less bearable for Stephen. He really is the unluckiest guy in the world, gifted a dog he didn’t want by a woman who purported that she was just leaving it for him to watch for a moment. This show employs some creative and intriguing devices like showing Stephen as a young boy remembering his interactions as a child in particular moments, and that makes its relatively entertaining plot a bit more clever. This is a show that I could take or leave, and given that its British humor isn’t raucously funny, I think I’m perfectly happy to leave it for now.

How will it work as a series? Andrew has already won over everyone in the family, and the fact that he’s had such an easy time fitting in is surely going to drive Stephen mad as he continues to try to wrap his head around the fact that his father is gone and that he’s not the preferred son anymore. That should make for some fun antics, but this show is more subdued than anything else.
How long will it last? Six episodes were commissioned for the first season, which aired over the course of six weeks beginning in September on Channel 4 in the UK and are all available as of Thursday to stream on Sundance Now. While it appears to have been well-reviewed, I don’t believe it made much of a splash back home, and so this is likely all we’ll see of the show.


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