Monday, November 30, 2015

Check Out Superstore

America Ferrera debuts tonight in Superstore,
10 PM Eastern/Pacific on NBC
Although it's not set to continue the rest of its 11-episode first-season run until the new year, America Ferrera's latest series, Superstore, premieres tonight at 10, as a special one-hour block following megahit lead-in The Voice.  (The series' eventual Monday night companion piece, Eva Longoria's Telenovela, will get the same preview push at the same time next week, on Monday, December 7.)

I've seen episodes of Superstore, and can attest it's worth checking out, not only for Ferrera's endearing new character Amy, but for the rest of its skilled comedic ensemble cast, including Mad Men's Ben Feldman as her new romantic interest, the elitist Jonah, Kids in the Hall's Mark McKinney as the hyperreligious store manager Glenn and Another Period's Lauren Ash as the super-weird and aggressive Dina.

Superstore comes from creator Justin Spitzer, who worked for years as a producer on NBC's great ensemble comedy The Office -- and the DNA shows here.  Superstore has the same mix of officious weirdos as funny supporting characters, and yet also shows a lot of heart.  After the overwhelming experience playing a title character on Ugly Betty, Ferrera said today at a lunch for critics on the Universal lot in Los Angeles that she's happy to step into a true ensemble.  Plus, the woman is busy; not only does she develop TV shows at her own development company, but as a producer of Superstore, she's part of the show's story decisions.  As such, she adds that she's happy that Spitzer and his writing staff are expert at pacing out story developments in Superstore's first season, trusting the audience to keep tuning in to learn more about its ever-deepening characters.

If the four episodes available to the press are any indication, it will be a season worth spending.  Check out the show's first two installments tonight at 10 PM, following The Voice on NBC.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Undateable: Je Suis Paris

From the start of this, its third season, NBC's sitcom Undateable has aired live every Friday night -- until tonight.

At 4:45 PM Pacific time -- just 15 minutes before the first of two live telecasts was to be performed for the Eastern time zone -- Undateable opted to cancel tonight's live show in deference to the terrorist attack on Paris.

With several of the networks scrambling to cover the breaking situation -- such as ABC's 20/20, which will devote its hour to coverage -- it's likely that NBC would have pre-empted at least one of the Undateable performances anyway.  But as an emotional Bill Lawrence, the show's executive producer, explained to a disappointed yet understanding crowd, tonight it didn't feel right for the cast or producers to go live with the show's trademark brand of silliness.

At the producers' request, musical guest Joshua Radin did perform for the crowd, albeit a different, more mournful song than he'd planned.  Barring anything unforeseen, Undateable will be back live next Friday -- probably with the same episode we would have seen tonight.  Bravo to Bill Lawrence, Randall Winston (he's the producer you'll see placing the "Je Suis Paris" sign in the video below), Chris D'Elia, who addresses the crowd here, and the cast and crew of Undateable for this classy move, in tribute to the victims of this senseless violence.