Superstore (2015) s01e01 – Pilot

I’ve been wanting to watch “Superstore” on a recommendation and, starting it, I realized it’s very much my bag. It takes place in a very confined setting—a big box store, which is also very much my bag as I’ve always been intrigued at the idea of the department store and its descendants. I blame Mannequin. Also, highly recommend Robert Hendrickson’s The Grand Emporiums.

Anyway, “Superstore.” What a great cast. I’ve never seen anything with America Ferrera, except her guest spots on “Good Wife,” which I don’t remember but she’s fantastic. She’s a floor manager, ten years in at the store, serious but good-hearted. She’s got a goofus store manager (Mark McKinney, broad but likable in that Mark McKinney way) and a way too gung ho supervisor (Lauren Ash, who appears to be the “Dwight” of the show and is the only thing I’m not onboard with after this episode), but she does her job and cares about her coworkers.

The episode—and, as its the pilot, the show—is framed around Ben Feldman joining the team. He’s good looking and smart and conceited about the latter; he doesn’t seem aware of the former, which helps with his likability. He almost immediately starts crushing on Ferrera and most of his screwups in the episode are to impress her. Burgeoning subplot. But also Ash is mad crushing on him and seems primed to make a fool of herself in her pursuit, hence not being onboard with the character yet.

Also in the main cast are Colton Dunn, the only Black guy, who’s appropriately aware of it, and Nichole Bloom, as the good-hearted, pregnant, and too ditzy for the pregnancy to be a great idea pretty girl. The show gives Dunn all the great observation lines and Bloom gives it the uncomplicated heart. Ferrera is the layered heart.

Also Nico Santos starts at the same day as Feldman and sees it as a competition to be the better new person.

The cast is incredibly likable, the situations the sitcom gins up are funny, Ferrera’s great (she’s also a producer)… it’s one of those sitcoms you could easily marathon without paying attention to the clock.

I only stopped after the first episode because it was after midnight.

Last thing—Ruben Fleischer directs (and executive produces). Fleischer’s a lot better at sitcom directing than Venom directing. A lot better.

Mad About You – les six premiers

We started watching “Mad About You” a few days ago. Season one, from the beginning, fall 1992. So the world before Jurassic Park after it decided Batman couldn’t be too dark. I watched the show pretty regular starting in season two or three, whenever the bathroom episode aired. So I haven’t seem much of the first season. I didn’t remember the annoying deadbeat WASP friend of Paul’s (played by Tommy Hinkley, who plays it like Richard Jordan slumming but without being Richard Jordan).

What’s most interesting so far—six episodes in—is how casually and seemingly unintentionally but still harshly misogynist it gets. Paul Reiser is a selfish, thoughtless dick. The show acknowledges he’s selfish and thoughtless, but rewards him for it (as Reiser created the show) while going so far as to position Helen Hunt as a dweeb for falling for him. And worse for not putting up with his whining shtick.

It’s very strange to see how even “good” sitcoms have some exceptionally lazy characterizations.

Other weird things? It takes forever to see Reiser’s studio, which also might be the first time he’s given a profession. He’s a documentary filmmaker who couldn’t possibly afford a studio and Helen Hunt’s a PR exec who’s probably paying his rent. Of course, the pilot didn’t even have the dog in it so clearly things were shuffling in these early days. It mentioned the dog, it just didn’t have the actual dog.

We don’t get to see Helen Hunt’s office or workspace. She’s mean to her underlings? Though Hunt’s able to sell the bad writing on it. She’s also way better at comedic timing than Reiser, sometimes having to wait for him to catch up with her, which is probably a metaphor for the show at this point.

It’s like a waiting game for Richard Kind to get better material—some of it’s been good—and for John Pankow to show up.

Though it’s nice to see Art Evans as Paul’s editor who name drops constantly. And Kerri Green is around for a second. Kerri Green from The Goonies, who seems very much like she’s doing a less annoying Jami Gertz in “Mad About You.”

But, six in, lots more cringing than I was expecting. Lots more. Husbands are thoughtless dicks, the show. Woop de doo.

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