Back To You seems very carefully constructed to not be breaking new ground, but to be a solid sitcom with long tradition behind it. It’s created by two folks with long and overall respectable track records. It stars Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, both long-track-record sitcom stars. The pilot is directed by James Burrows, the single most vital creative name in sitcom success over the past couple decades. And even the setting, a middle-market TV newsroom, is borrowed from one of the great classic sitcoms.
So is this going to be a long-runner? Hard to tell.
Y’see, the first episode is set-up. Some of it is basic stuff, introducing us to the key info (Grammer returns to his old newsroom after having been bumped down from a more prestigious assignment) and the wacky folks who fill out the scenes (variable in quality; the news director needs to seem less like a first-run-through Chris Farley character, but Fred Willard has been doing glib newsguy type characters for so long that he’s comfortably in the zone from day one.) But there’s one aspect of the set-up that needs to be taken more seriously, and so they break off from the wackiness to introduce it. The question is, are they somehow going to take that more seriously through the ongoing episodes, which is going to be hard to support… or are they just going to go for the wacky (which would actually ignore the most theoretically interesting relationship on the show.)
So while there were some good lines and good delivery on this show, all I can say for sure is that it’s worth checking out a few more episodes to see where they go.
SPOILER WARNING (yeah, I have to go look up my nifty Spoiler Warning code again), so only read the rest of this post unless you’ve already seen this show or don’t care.
Okay, so there’s this guy who left town, found more success, is now struggling a bit, so he comes back to town. And then he finds that the gal he slept with shortly before leaving had a child not long after. And then discovers that the kid has the same nut allergy he has! Yes, that’s the background story… of October Road. So no, not everything in Back to You shouts classic sitcom; some of it shouts lousy drama.