Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fall TV Review - Back To You - Pilot Training

Back To You - Pilot - directed by James Burrows, written by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd
Premiered Wednesday Sept. 19th 8pm, FOX/Global

It's a traditional workplace comedy. It stars traditional sitcom powerhouses Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, trying to shake off Frasier and Raymond. The supporting cast includes the always amusing Fred Willard and Ty Burrell (Out of Practice). It's directed by sitcom staple powerhouse James Burrows. And it definitely feels like a relic, a hark back to the traditional days of yonder, especially in this day and age of 30 Rocks and The Offices. However, that's not necessarily a horrible thing but it's not great either. It's not even Murphy Brown or Newsradio, but it might just fit into my Reba/Freddie category of not-great-sitcoms-that-I'm-sort-of-addicted-to-nonetheless-because-it's-kinda-comfortable.

I've never actually LIKED Kelsey Grammer (haha, now I can't stop thinking about the Kelsey Grammer School from Little Britain) but I can watch Frasier anytime, and there's something to be said for continuing a character for 20 YEARS, especially a persnickety one like Frasier Crane, and keeping us watching. Of course, I'm surprised he's ready to jump back into television so quickly and try to shake off his past. Good career move but probably more difficult so soon after.

The same with co-star Patricia Heaton, who only came off Everybody Loves Raymond two years ago, and now starts this show. However with her, I think it's a good move since, as I've said a few times before, she should have divorced Raymond a long time ago and moved on, so it's nice to see her play a career woman.

Putting Grammer and Heaton together is great but they seriously need better lines. It's old-school sitcom with old-school jokes but Heaton and Grammar still deliver them with aplomb. Whether we still want to hear it is another matter but Fred Willard gets away with some funny lines (if only from his delivery), and again, I loved Ty Burrell (above with Heaton) enough from his last show (Out of Practice, with Stockard Channing and Ugly Betty's Christopher Gorham, another not-great-sitcom-that-I-still-loved) that I'm hoping he will land in something that succeeds. Back To You however might not be it. Still, it's far better than it's follow up show 'Til Death (starring another Raymond vet, Brad Garrett) and it's amusing with some groaners at worst.

The twist, which was so obvious, of Heaton's characters daughter being Grammer's from their past fling seems like some trite way to build emotion and while it nicely ties these two frenemies together forever, I think I would prefer when it's all about the action in the newsroom. In fact, I still like the original name of the show, Action News, which seemed to have a more satirical nature built into the title already. Oh well, I guess they decided to go another way.

Back To You gets 2.5 Stars (**1/2). I'll probably tape it and watch them when I need a break from Heroes or something more intense on the weekends.

Here is the video clip of Back To You:

Kelsey Grammer

Patricia Heaton

Ty Burrell

Fred Willard

Ayda Field

Josh Gad

Laura Marano

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