Pilot: “Black-ish”

The sitcom is a difficult area in television to get right. Sometimes it works really well, other times it doesn’t. Then, rarely, there are the times it appears to be working, but after a short time, two years or less, it turns out that things weren’t actually working at all.

The upcoming American Broadcasting Company (ABC) show “Black-ish” is striving for something lacking on television, but could be going about it the wrong way.

This comedy series stars Anthony Anderson (“Rake”, “Grudge Match”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Reed Between the Lines”, “Girlfriends”), Yara Shahidi (“The Fosters”, “Scandal”), Marcus Scribner (“Wendell and Vinnie”, “New Girl”), Miles Brown (“Shameless”), Marsai Martin and guest star Laurence Fishburne (“Rudderless”, “Hannibal”).

This series was created by Kenya Barris (“The Game”, “I Hate My Teenage Daughter”).

The series premier will be Sept. 24, 2014 at 9:30 on ABC.

I’ve got to say it first, thank God for free things! More specifically, thank God for free things on iTunes! Whatever the reason for ABC releasing this pilot early, I’m happy for that reason alone.

So it’s sad to say that one of my first thoughts was, “This is going to get really old really fast.” Oh dear. For instance, there’s a damn VoiceOver! Narration?!?! Really?!?!? Why? Too lazy to actually do the creative work you need to make a decent show? To make matters worse, the narration is something like 50% of the dialogue spoken and Anderson’s voice, as the character or in general, not sure which, just gets annoying after a few minutes. Ugh.

And for God’s sake, don’t jump down your kids throats for not knowing who the president is. They’re just stupid, and clearly don’t care. You, as a parent, are a little to blame. But come on, what are these kids, 12? They don’t look old enough where it should matter all that much. I do feel, that the successful area that Barris brought, to a very rough pilot, was commentary. The thing with the kids really says a lot about our society and approach to something as simple as knowing who the president is. There could also be some commentary on culture, which, if handled well, could be a good component of this show, but as of now, I don’t see that. One thing that should be embraced more, is family. This show clearly wants to be that, but it can’t with Anderson’s character whining about everything.

The majority of what Anderson whined about doesn’t strike me as that of culture, not by any definition I’d use. It was more just watching stereotypes being thrown around. I could be wrong but that’s all I saw. Now, perhaps that’s part of what makes this look stupid, but I’m not all that sure. For this reason alone, to better understand where Barris is coming from, I may watch more.

The only upside to this episode, is Ross, as she balances things as Anderson’s wife. However, that doesn’t outweigh all the problems in this pilot, and potentially the whole show.

For me, the only funny exchange was a pop culture reference that was delivered well by Fishburne. Sad.

“No. Stand right there and experience your roots.” Anderson
“You’re better off watching “Roots.” Fishburne

Yeah. That’s not good, especially if you’re aiming to be a comedy show. Which is also something I should mention. I’m a fan of smart comedies, and those rarely rely on physical comedy or inappropriate jokes that just go on and on. Maybe this episode just lacked that altogether, but I don’t think so.

And hey! it could just be the pilot. The emphasis on what the creator is trying to do was much like that horse that’s beaten with a stick. Later episodes could help clarify things for me. And maybe the later episodes will even things out too. While I won’t go out of my way to try and stay current with the show, for however long it lasts, I’ll try and give it my six episode minimum and decide. I could very well be surprised, although I doubt it.


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