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Saturday, February 4, 2017

PILOT REVIEW: Superior Donuts


Starring: Jermaine Fowler, David Koechner, Maz Jobrani, Darien Sills-Evans, Anna Baryshnikov, Rell Battle, with Katey Sagal, and Judd Hirsch

Based on the Play by Tracy Letts
Developed by Bob Daily, Neil Goldman, and Garrett Donovan
Teleplay by Bob Daily, Neil Goldman & Garrett Donovan, Directed by James Burrows

Superior Donuts is new CBS sitcom based on the play of the same name. I specify that it's a CBS sitcom because it's a CBS sitcom in every sense of the word. Donuts stars Judd Hirsch as Arthur Przybyszewski, owner of a donut shop staple in a Chicago neighborhood. However, with the changing times and a Starbucks opening across the street, Arthur is feeling compelled to sell the property to a real estate developer, Fawz (Maz Jobrani) until a young man, Franco (Jermaine Fowler) comes in with new ideas to revive the shop. Rounding out the main cast are regulars Carl, Randy, Maya, and James (David Koechner, Katey Sagal, Anna Baryshnikov, and Darien Sills-Evans) and a friend of Franco's, Sweatpants (Rell Battle).

Let's start with the very best thing about this show and that is without question, Judd Hirsch. Hirsch is a sitcom legend and he is still killing it at age 81. He doesn't seem nearly that old and still has great comedic timing and presence. It's impressive what a long and exceptional career he has had and I feel like he doesn't always get recognition for that. One other aspect I loved was the title card, which was eye catching and nostalgic.

The rest of the show though, was all sorts of CBS sitcom and that's not a great thing. It was basically a rehash of The Great Indoors just with an older adversary. There were still jokes about millennials and too many cheap jokes at the expense of culture clashes whether it be old vs. young, black vs. white, etc. After Hirsch, the next most developed character in the pilot was Jermaine Fowler and he seemed promising. But the rest of the cast was either so-so or underutilized. Katey Sagal is great and has been great in many things but this part seems a little small for her. On the flip side, a little David Koechner goes a long way for me and he annoyed me almost from the beginning. It's also hard for me to see him as any character other than Todd Packer on The Office.

Despite my reservations about the pilot, I still have hope for this show. Many of these multi-camera sitcoms with the canned laughter have rough beginnings. There is too much forced chemistry and exposition. Once this show can become a regular sitcom, it might have a chance to be funny because the cast is good for the most part. Let it be about the comings and goings of people in a small neighborhood donut shop. Don't make it about a millennial vs. an old man or a misunderstanding of different cultures and races. Focus on the characters, not their types and maybe this show can work. Also, let Judd Hirsch be a reactor to other crazier characters. That's what he does best.

I will definitely give it a second episode to see how it settles in.

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