Editors Note:

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Back to You

Laugh tracks in general make me lunge for the remote, so I'm probably not the best person to judge Fox's new sitcom. But since Back to You is set in the farcical world of local TV news, I willingly clicked on the three excerpts available on-line. It wasn't a complete waste of time. In the pilot episode, preening gasbag Chuck Darling (Kelsey Grammer, in post-Frasier sleepwalk) returns to a Pittsburgh station he abandoned years ago on his way to the top. Now that he's on the way back down, he has to deal with a Gen-X news director, an old co-anchor ex-lover and the requisite goofy sports guy (played by the brilliant but slumming Fred Willard). Hilarity should ensue. After all, comedy writers have plumbed the depths of newsroom chicanery for laughs since Mary Tyler Moore first flashed her spunk to Lou Grant. But I'm not so sure Back To You measures up. Sure, it's got a great pedigree, a stellar cast and rich source material. In fact, if you stomach the slapstick paradigm of modern day sitcomery, ths show may be for you. God knows the producers have alot to work with. Every newsroom I've ever worked in featured the kind of creatures comics yearn to emulate and bag on. I've just never seen a prime-time comedy capture the dark, wacky vibe found in the headquarters of most local broadcast news outlets. (Paging HBO...) As for the lead, Grammer is good - but I think most people will tune in and wonder why Frasier ditched his Seattle radio gig for a TV anchor job in Pittsburgh. To me though, he'll always be Sideshow Bob.

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