First Impressions: Back to You

They were shooting this sitcom in Pittsburgh when I was there, so I was curious to see it. Plus it’s got the creative team from Frasier behind it, along with star Kelsey Grammer. The role of pompous new anchor Chuck Darling is tailor made for him. The rest of the show comes off pretty average.

There’s the usual bickering power couple–Darling and co-anchor Kelly Carr (Patricia Heaton)– who trade barbs when the camera’s not on. Filling out the obligatory support team are a dim sports guy (Fred Willard), a hot weather girl, and an uptight field reporter who holds a grudge because he was passed over for the anchor job. The best side character is Ryan Church (Josh Gad), the young news director who’s in a bit over his head.

Creators have thrown one unusual wrench into the mix–the co-anchors are also co-parents. Carr has a ten-year-old daughter, the product of a drunken one-night-stand right before Darling went off to the big time in LA. In the first episode Darling learns he’s the father.

As far as laughs go, I barely chuckled. It made me long for the days of quick-witted News Radio and the amazing ensemble cast they had on that show (Phil Hartman, Stephen Root, Dave Foley, Vicki Lewis, Maura Tierney, Andy Dick.) And in this era, when my comedic tastes lean more toward the Arrested Developments and Flight of the Conchords of this world, Back to You seems awfully tame.

But we’ll see. It’s early yet to pass judgment. Set-up episodes are never great. Patricia Heaton and Fred Willard just might grow on me (though I doubt it) and the patter should get snappier as the writers and actors find their rhythm. Often times comedies need a chance to get in their groove. 30 Rock started weak but finished the season as one of the funniest shows in the last decade.


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