On Back to You

I watched the first episode of Kelsey Grammer’s new sitcom, Back to You, this evening.

Reviews were mixed — some reviews had called it “can’t miss,” while others had called it “never catch.” But I’ve been a long-time fan of the Kels, from Cheers to Frasier to the delightful Down Periscope — hell, I even watched that dreadful Sketch Show — so not tuning in for Back to You wasn’t in the cards.

Here’s the premise. Local network news anchor Chuck Darling, after an unfortunate on-air blow-up in Los Angeles, finds himself back at the Pittsburgh station where he began his anchoring career over a decade before. He’d moved on and became a big-shot, and now the people he’d worked with in those long ago days have moved on with their own lives. In his absence, the co-anchor and sports anchor he’d worked with have moved on with their lives — radically in co-anchor Kelly Carr’s case, not so much in sports anchor Marsh McGinley’s case.

Without giving away many spoilers for the first episode, Back to You was horribly uneven. Kelsey Grammer can make anything funny. Patricia Heaton, an actress I’m wholly unfamiliar with, was interesting, if not especially memorable. The other roles? Didn’t really notice them. Some parts of the episode worked. The dialogue generally worked quite well — there’s a scene late in the episode that was written and acted very well. Other parts fell flat, and my attention flagged.

That’s the problem with first episodes. Some things work, some things don’t, until the writers figure the show out.

Will Back to You last? I don’t know. I generally enjoyed it, but I didn’t feel that it was anything special, beyond the casting of Grammer, which automatically adds points of interest. I’ll watch it again. But is it Must See television? Right now, it’s not.

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