Saturday, April 7, 2018

Pilot Review: The Last O.G.

The Last O.G. (TBS)
Premiered April 3 at 10:30pm

Tracy Morgan is back on TV. The former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and Emmy-nominated “30 Rock” star had a long recovery after a serious car accident four years ago, but now he’s returning to a show all his own. I ate a brownie with his face on the wrapper at South by Southwest as part of an advertisement for this show, and I think that TBS is absolutely the right network to be broadcasting this series. Morgan has always been known as a bit of a loose cannon whose similarly-named character Tracy Jordan really wasn’t all that different from him. At the very least, this show gives him an opportunity to play someone just trying to be taken seriously who’s still subject to whims that aren’t all that advisable and don’t help him make the case that he’s a reformed, productive member of society ready to be a parent. The premise of this show actually works pretty well, as his released convict discovers that the hood is gone and that there’s really no place for him in this gentrified society which has even taken his ex-girlfriend away from him. Silly as some of this may have been, the episode’s end was one that was winning and heartwarming, with Tray happily affirming that he’s a father, not bothering to think about the top donor who his cousin just hit with his car and all about that moment of optimism. I still haven’t seen “Girls Trip,” but from what I’ve heard about Tiffany Haddish, I’m not sure this is the best showcase for her comedy skills since it’s hardly the meatiest role. I’d be content checking back in with this show if it earns any awards nominations down the road, and I think it’s exactly the kind of fare that TBS wants to champion as its brand.

How will it work as a series? Shay didn’t even bother to try to deny that the twins are Tray’s, and that’s going to be a mistake she’ll surely pay for as he tries to make his way into their lives and get to know them despite her most serious objections. Hopefully the blend of moderately sincere drama and outright comedy of Tray’s character will be a good and balanced one.
How long will it last? The reviews are decent, but they almost don’t matter. Not only was this premiere the best one TBS has ever seen, it was also the biggest cable comedy premiere in three years. It’s guaranteed a renewal now, and I imagine that it will have a long and productive run given these opening numbers and Morgan’s popularity.

Pilot grade: B

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