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Monday, November 30, 2015

PILOT REVIEW: Superstore


Starring: America Ferrera, Ben Feldman, Lauren Ash, Colton Dunn, Nico Santos, Nichole Bloom, and Mark McKinney

Created by Justin Spitzer
Written by Justin Spitzer, Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Superstore is a new ensemble workplace comedy set at a "big box" department store called Cloud 9. It focuses on a few of the employees, led by 10 year vet and floor manager, the straight-laced Amy (America Ferrera). Her humdrum world is thrown with the arrival of new associate Jonah (Ben Feldman), who seems set on changing up their world. Other employees include the Dwight Schrute-type assistant manager Dina (Lauren Ash), ditzy and pregnant Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom), fast talking, paraplegic Garrett (Colton Dunn), and fellow new associate, Mateo (Nico Santos). Their boss is the dorky Glenn (Mark McKinney).

I found Superstore to be surprisingly charming and funny. It starts with a first-rate cast that makes the most of the material and has a good camaraderie with each other already. The opposites-attract and underlying romantic tension between Amy and Jonah worked really well in the pilot despite being a bit of a cliche (speaking of a cliche, how often do workplace pilots involve a new employee unknowingly trashing the job to someone they shouldn't? Seems like it happens a lot). Cheyenne is funny and her boyfriend, a recurring character, was pretty funny as well. The Muppets-sounding Mark McKinney has some funny moments as well and Lauren Ash, while being extremely similar to Dwight on The Office, had some funny takes.

In addition to a strong main cast, the pilot made good use of other employees and especially, the customers. This will be essential going forward because I'd imagine a lot of the comedy can be mined from interesting customers. Should this become a hit, this gives them a very natural opportunity for great guest stars.

Most importantly, this show seemed to find hilarious and heartwarming moments in the ordinary life. I mean, what is more ordinary than a Wal-mart type store? It's a great (and unique) setting for a sitcom. Even the ending, which could have been either unfunny or unnecessarily sappy, struck the right tone for the type of show this wants to be. I don't think this show was absolutely hilarious or anything like that, but I'm impressed with how sure of itself this show is. A comedy, especially an ensemble one, usually takes time to gel but this show is already ahead of the curve in that respect. It makes me hopeful for episodes to come if NBC can actually find an audience for it.

Yep. I'm watching the second episode as I type this and I'm enjoying it. This could be a sleeper hit for me. I hope it can find an audience.

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