Magazine article Variety

The Carmichael Show

Magazine article Variety

The Carmichael Show

Article excerpt

TV REVIEW

The Carmichael Show

SERIES: NBC. Weds. March 9.9 p.m.

WRITERS: Jerrod Carmichael, Ari Katcher

STARRING: Jerrod Carmichael. Loretta Devine, David Alan Crier

NBC's unexpected renewal of "The Carmichael Show," a multi-camera sitcom that got an obscure, latesummer tryout last year, was a smart move. The retro-flavored laffer employs the moves of classic TV comedies in amusing and intelligent ways, and as NBC attempts to re-establish its scattered comedy brand, it's wise to use this pleasing program as one of its building blocks. "The Carmichael Show" is proof that there's a lot of life yet left in multicams, as long as they breezily combine competence with nicely crafted observations and a dash of irreverence.

In "The Carmichael Show," old and new meet in a number of ways. The series' barely there premise has Jerrod (Jerrod Carmichael) interacting with his old-school mom and dad (Ixjretta Devine and David Alan Grier) while navigating a relationship with his kale-loving psychology-student girlfriend, Maxine (Amber Stevens West). The action, what there is of it, takes place in Jerrod's unfussy apartment, or in the traditionally laid-out kitchen and living room of his parents' North Carolina home.

But as was the case with many classic sitcoms of the '70s and '80s (and a few that air now), the simple sets matter far less than what happens inside them. "The Carmichael Show," which is clearly influenced by the comedies of Norman Lear (among others), simply listens in as a fractious but essentially loving group of characters laugh at each other and themselves as they debate small things happening within the family and big events occurring in the world.

In its first season, and now the second, the show has proven especially adept at scattering pointed jokes into every debate, whether it's about police brutality or Jerrod's attempts to get his father to eat better. There may not be much in the way of tension, but that's not the point. The sprightly writing is the show's energy source, and it infuses the program with a welcome curiosity and an unwillingness to take itself too seriously.

That tendency to keep things on the lighter side can, on occasion, trip the show up. In the second episode of the new season, family members wrestle with the idea of going to a Bill Cosby performance, and though the episode is reasonably sound, it could have used a bit more heft and insight. …

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