TV Preview

'Mr. Robinson' is a mix of music and laughs for Craig Robinson

Teacher by day, musician by night: 'Mr. Robinson's' Craig Robinson knows that gig well

And here's to you, Mr. Robinson.

Craig Robinson, one of the actors in some of Hollywood's most popular ensemble film and TV comedies, including "Hot Tub Time Machine," "This Is the End," and "The Office," will be the main star of his own comedy series, "Mr. Robinson," this summer on NBC.

Robinson plays the title character, a high school music teacher who moonlights as the leader of a band trying to make the big time. The series, which premieres Aug. 5, has been slotted for a six-episode run.

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"To be the center of this show is a true honor," Robinson said by phone. "To be sure, this really is an ensemble show. Everyone scores. I'm just the point guard."

But it's a game that Robinson appears more than ready to play. He gets to perform songs each week with his real band, the Nasty Delicious, and finds unusual ways to educate his students — even though they don't have instruments.

Making life a bit more complicated is Robinson's crush on a former high school sweetheart, Victoria (Meagan Good), who also teaches at his school and has a boyfriend.

Getting an opportunity to showcase his comic and musical side in the same show makes the series extra special for Robinson: "It's like all my dreams came true at the same time. It's such a joy to play the music."

Though "Mr. Robinson" has echoes of "School of Rock," the show is actually based on Robinson's life — he used to teach music at an elementary school in Chicago at the same time as he was trying to make it in a band.

"I haven't even seen 'School of Rock,'" said the 43-year-old comedian.

The cast includes Brandon T. Jackson ("Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son"), Peri Gilpin ("Frasier") and Spencer Grammer, the daughter of Gilpin's former co-star on "Frasier," Kelsey Grammer.

Executive producers for the series are Mark and Robb Cullen, who have written for several projects, including the 2010 Bruce Willis-Tracy Morgan cop comedy "Cop Out." They created the short-lived FX comedy "Lucky" in 2003, which co-starred Robinson.

"We call him the third Cullen," said Robb Cullen. "We've been fans of Craig forever."

One key challenge of the series is to bring Robinson's often wicked comedy vibe to a network family show.

"Craig has a very large fan base, and we wanted to make sure his fans get to see that," Mark Cullen said. "So it's pulling together two worlds. When he's with the kids, the humor will be more family-oriented. But when Craig is with the teachers or grown-ups, the material will be a lot more adult."

Playing the lead in a TV show isn't the only thing keeping the performer busy this summer. He's starring in a production of the Monty Python musical "Spamalot" at the Hollywood Bowl on July 31 and Aug. 1 and 2. Co-starring in the production are Eric Idle, a Python member and one of the show's creators, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson ("Modern Family").

"I'm King Arthur, which is very inspired casting," said Robinson. "This should be very interesting."

greg.braxton@latimes.com

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