Summer TV Review…

I really enjoyed Craig Robinson’s new show “Mr. Robinson” on NBC. Set in my hometown of Chicago is loosely based on Robinson’s time as a music teacher in Chicago public schools.  Sure, it’s a rip-off of  1996’s” Steve Harvey Show“, but there’s nothing wrong with that.  Robinson is multi talented. He was a regular on NBC’s “The Office” but I never watched it, so when I happened to see Robinson one night on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and he sat down at his piano and banged out popular 80’s tunes that had the audience singing and laughing along the way, I instantly became a fan.  When’s the last time you saw a performer do that?  By day, Mr. Robinson teaches music while dealing with the usual teacher politics and trying to woo his high school crush played by Meagan Good. At night he performs in his hilarious funk band “Nasty Delicious” (I LOVE that name).  Rounding out the supporting cast is Brandon T. Jackson,Tim Bagley, Benjamin Koldyke and Frasier alum Peri Gilpin, along with Kelsey Grammer’s daughter Spencer. It’s a typical multi-camera sitcom. Everyone says the genre is dying but I hope this series survives.

Dwayne Johnson ‘s “Ballers” on HBO sounded promising when I read the summary in Entertainment Weekly earlier this summer.  The show however, leaves me scratching my head in confusion.  Johnson’s character Spencer Strasmore is a former football player turned Financial manager .  Daily Show alum Rob Cordry plays his partner Joe and their job is to cultivate relationships among elite athletes Spencer knew during his career and recruit them to become clients.  Omar Miller, formerly of CSI Miami plays Charles Greene, a former football player turned car salesman. We see him struggle as he transitions to everyday life and tries to make a comeback to football.  He still has friends like Ricky Jerrett, who is still playing and does ridiculous things like dating his teammates mother while trying to maintain a long-term relationship.   It’s supposed to be a dramedy.  I see the drama, but where’s the funny? How is young men mismanaging their money while indulging in irresponsible behavior funny?   I’ll admit the only reason I decided to watch this show was…well…it’s The Rock and it is a joy to look at all that handsome manliness. But the show itself leaves me feeling like…meh.   HBO says it’s the most watched comedy on their network this decade.   Again…meh.  Ballers been renewed for a second season.  Perhaps they will find the funny by then.

TNT’s “Murder In The First” stars Taye Diggs in a drama that follows the investigation of one high profile, ripped from the headlines type case per season.  Veteran showrunner Steven Bochco helms this knock-off of ABC’s “Murder One”.  Season two opened with the detectives dealing with a violent school bus shooting and I was bored.  BORED!!!  Not about the shooting itself but the pacing of the show was just….so….slow. Not to mention that Diggs and his supporting cast are totally unconvincing as a hard nosed detectives. These days I’m used to the shooting, the reaction of detectives, cops and innocent bystanders all  happening within dizzying minutes. if this show gets a third season, I will be surprised.

Also on TNT Jennifer Beals and Joe Morton of “Scandal” stars in “Proof. Prickly Doctor Carolyn “Cat” Tyler (Beals) lost her son, ended her marriage due to a cheating husband she works at the same hospital with, and is estranged from her teenage daughter. She is recruited and then persuaded by cancer-stricken billionaire Ivan Turing (Matthew Modine) to search for evidence that death is not the end. Dr. Cat is all about science and does not believe in Life After Death but assisted by her intern Dr. Zed (Edi Gathegi) she investigates and learns from various people who have had experiences on the “other side”. Joe Morton plays the hospital director whose main job is to keep her compliant of hospital policies.  i didn’t think I would like this show but Jennifer Beals is rather believeable as a woman who cares about her work while trying to balance the needs of her daughter.

“The Carmichael Show” on NBC stars comedian Jerrod Carmichael as a young man living with his girlfriend and his relationship with his family played by Loretta Devine, David Alan Grier and comedian Lil Rel Howery.  Carmichael is one of the Executive producers.   In the pilot, we meet Jerrod and his girlfriend Maxine who’ve been living together for three weeks but haven’t told Jerrod’s parents. Jerrod’s father, Joe  (Grier), is “gruff tell-it like it is” kind of guy, while his mother, Cynthia (Loretta Devine), is deeply religious.  Neither would approve of their son living with with his girlfriend. Maxine wants to tell them at dinner that night, Jerrod doesn’t.  For the next 22 minutes  jokes covering  prayer in schools,  Although I like Carmichael’s stand-up, I do not like this show.  I tried.  Really, I did.  But the way his parents are written just rubs me the wrong way.  I’ve read that Carmichael counts TV sitcom icon Norman Lear as an influence.  Maybe that’s why the characters bring up topical subjects like Black Lives Matter just like Archie Bunker and Meathead would argue about Nixon and Vietnam.  I don’t think this style works 40 years later but I see what he’s trying to do.

The summer season is almost over…more reviews to come…

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