September 20th, 2007


Back to You

The new Kelsey Grammer sitcom Back to You premiered tonight, and like K-Ville, it was neither bad nor spectacular. It's a pretty traditional workplace comedy. Grammer plays a character one degree off from Frasier Crane: he's still a pompous ass, just in a different way, and instead of a talk-radio therapist he's a local news anchor. It would be completely ho-hum if Grammer wasn't so good at what he does. Patricia Heaton as his put-upon co-anchor I can take or leave.

The real reasons to watch are two-fold: the inimitable Fred Willard as the off-his-rocker sports reporter, and the about-to-break-out Ayda Field as the weather girl. (Field easily could have broken out on Studio 60 if Aaron Sorkin had remembered her character existed. What's the deal with Sorkin's short memory? Remember when he added Oliver Platt and Emily Procter to the cast of The West Wing, and then their characters disappeared because he forgot they were there? Must be all the shrooms.)

Back to You got better after the fifteen minute mark. Before that it was as by-the-numbers as it could get. They need to avoid that. And they definitely need to either trim the supporting cast down to a manageable number or give the others more to do. Right now they're all suffering from first-episodeitis and showing their personality tics in the extreme, as if each is jockeying for pole position in the writers' minds.

But as I said, it's not bad. I think it just needs time to find its voice, and then it could very well be a top notch sitcom. As with K-Ville, it may be the second episode that decides if it stays on my DVR list or not.