Why Grammer felt compelled to return to television so soon after his mega success with Cheers and Frasier is beyond me. It's also Patricia Heaton's return to primetime after Everybody Loves Raymond left the air two years ago.
One would expect Back To You to be the best possible production with the top writers, producers and a first rate cast. It should at least be as funny as a typical episode of Raymond or Frasier. A high bar admittedly but both stars were afforded the funniest and smartest scripts in the business on their previous outings.
The first episode is promising but not particularly pleasing. Is there a breakout character, a Niles Crane or Marie Barone in this show? Not on the surface. The whole thing comes across like it was written by high schoolers.
After watching the second episode it's apparent this series is a serious misfire. While there are a few chuckles, the show is way too jokey and the laugh track is leaden, tedious and unbelievably phony, astonishingly over the top. Are we supposed to believe people are screaming with laughter at these hokey setups?
With the sitcom genre in decline there's little hope this production is going to help save the format - in fact, it's a prime example of why folks don't watch sitcoms like they used to. Still, supporting player Fred Willard (Fernwood 2night) is a huge plus and a joy to watch even with sub-par material.
All of the characters are broad in that typical TV fashion - for the most part the supporting cast are empty satellites bouncing around in the vacuum left in the wake of two imploding stars.
Back To You debuts on FOX Wednesday, Sept 19 at 8:00pm.
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