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.
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 a high school play.
But then again, that's the curse of a first episode setting up what is (for TV) a fairly complicated premise - very often the shows that follow are either much better or much worse so it may not be fair to judge this one so quickly.
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.
This show does feature Fred Willard (Fernwood 2night) in the cast, a huge plus as he never fails to be funny, but it doesn't help matters that the laugh track is leaden, tedious and unbelievably phony.
UPDATE: After watching the second episode it looks like this series is a serious misfire. While there are a few chuckles, it's way too jokey and the laugh track is just as overpowering as it was in the pilot, 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, Fred Willard is a joy to watch even with sub-par material.
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