‘Reboot’ – Hulu’s Sitcom on Hulu Making a Sitcom – Aims for Prestige Comedies

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Keegan – Michael Key in “Reboot” HULU

When To restartStruggling drama actor Reed Sterling (Keegan-Michael Key) reads the script for the upcoming revival of his turn-of-the-century sitcom Go up to the right, he says it’s a huge improvement over the old version. “It’s both the funniest thing you’ll ever read and you won’t laugh once.” From the start, To restart (created by modern family co-creator Steve Levitan) aims for serious prestige comedies that lack traditional setups and punchlines. In truth, it took a few episodes to To restart himself to make me laugh out loud, but he succeeded. I’m a sucker for a showbiz comedy, perpetually looking to fill the 30 Rock-shaped hole in my heart. Hulu’s new single-camera sitcom looks a bit like if you took 30 Rock and subtracted The puppet show (read: it’s not as good), but it has a game cast and a good helping of Hollywood jokes and industry commentary. Although he could use a little more bite, To restart mostly practices what it preaches: that modern, cerebral streaming comedy and its corny, stereotypical ancestor each have something to learn from the other.

To restart stars Rachel Bloom as Hannah, a young filmmaker fresh off the success of her groundbreaking indie comedy-drama Pussy saw. When asked to pitch a new series to Hulu, she surprises streamer executives by coming up with something mainstream and marketable: a revival of an old popular sitcom called Go up to the right. Go up to the rightthe premise is so simple that To restart never even has to explain it directly (a young boy’s biological father moves in with his mother and stepfather), but Hannah plans to bring it into the 21st century via emotional realism and complex morality. His plans are shattered when the series’ original creator and showrunner Gordon (Paul Reiser) sneaks into the writers’ room, forcing the two of them to compromise between their opposing ideas on comedy while simultaneously resolving their conflicts. with each other through the characters on their show.

Paul Reiser and Rachel Bloom in “Reboot” HULU

The dynamic between Hannah and Gordon has its own unique wrinkles, but it also evokes the standoff between 30 RockLiz Lemon, neurotic liberal designer, and Jack Donaghy, cynical business hack. Rather than being divided along class and ideological lines, To restartThe reluctant partners of come from different generations, on either side of an ongoing cultural revolution around sensitivity and inclusion. The early episodes chronicle the search for common ground between their respective contributions to the writer’s room, the disconnected old guard (stage-stealing turns of Fred Malamud and Rose Adboo) and their easily offended younger counterparts ( the more low-key Kimia Behpoornia and Korma Danquah, with the gay millennial character of Dan Leahy somehow dividing the difference). Both sides of the age gap are the butt of jokes, but there’s a clear preference for baby boomers, who get most of the laugh lines during their one-on-ones with the young wolves.

Their conflicts reflect To restartstruggling to find rhythm and tone. Like most sitcoms, To restart takes a few episodes to settle for itself and for its cast and writers to understand what makes the characters tick. Keegan-Michael Key plays Reed Sterling, the tightly-wounded “serious actor” whose drama career never took off and now finds himself in the sitcom he quit 20 years ago. Unsurprisingly, the Key and Peele The veteran is at his best when he can come loose with broad character work, but the first season mostly sees him playing the goofy straight man trying to hold it together. Judy Greer is at home playing her chaotic counterpart, Bree Marie Jensen, a narcissistic actress who was, until recently, the Dutchwoman of a made-up Scandinavian country. Greer, too, shines brightest when she grows up and is blessed with more opportunities to do so. Surprisingly, it is Johnny Knoxville who masters the best To restartis calmer as Clay Barker, an exhausted bad boy comedian trying to put his life in order. Knoxville scores some of the biggest laughs of the season by downplaying the cartoonish sight gags. (Sometimes comedy is as simple as “casually lifting a ziploc bag of orange slices into the frame.”) the show would imply. Where early episodes attempt to button scenes with zooming in on a character’s blank face to the Officelater installments contain more, well, real jokes.

Not all wrinkles have been ironed out by the end of the season. The show’s fourth lead on the show, Zack Johnson (Calum Worthy) remains a one-note character, the joke being that he still acts like the kid he was when Go up to the right was originally on the air. In some ways it is To restart‘s Tracy Jordan, a brainless actor whose entourage (in this case his mother) thinks for him and lives off the benefits of his roles in various bizarre films that his co-stars have never heard of. However, where Tracy’s childishness was an inexhaustible source of conflict for 30 Rock“adult” characters from, Zack is To restartthe most expendable character. He’s usually paired with Elaine (Krista Marie Yu), a software prodigy who unexpectedly became the vice president of comedy at Hulu after a series of corporate mergers. (This too is very 30 Rock joke.) On paper, the two make a good duo. Elaine skipped childhood and knows nothing about television, while Zack never grew up and only knows television. The trouble is that To restart is way too nice to both of them. Zack’s immaturity is only good for the occasional slight misunderstanding, and Elaine mostly serves as a foil to Zach, which feels like a waste of both characters.

The rest of the cast boasts strong chemistry that deserves further exploration in future seasons. The interaction between Rachel Bloom and Paul Reiser is usually the best part of any episode, in that I wish they and the writer’s room were the focus of more stories. It’s a shame that To restart doesn’t feel fully, well, kicked off until its short season is over, especially given the willingness of streaming services to ax new shows. In truth, To restart might have been better with a traditional network TV season order of 13 or 20+ episodes. (To restart wouldn’t be worse without the handful of F-bombs and flashes of nudity that prevent it from airing on ABC.) As things stand, I’m not sure that today’s volatile television landscape has the patience for a simmering sitcom reaches full boil. Personally, I support To restart to get a second season, but if not, I guess I can just wait for them to try that premise again in 20 years.

'Reboot' - Hulu's Sitcom on Hulu Making a Sitcom - Aims for Prestige Comedies

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