‘The Mayor’ and ‘9JKL’: Two promising network pilots that might just break your streaming fix
This week, in the continuing saga of too many shows to watch, a grown man moves back in with his doting parents after a failed marriage, while another young man seeks fame as a rapper, but becomes his city’s mayor instead.
Neither commands dragons or an army of Whitewalkers, but they do sail the perilous waters of trying to make binge-weary audiences laugh.
Pilot episodes for the new network comedy series “The Mayor” (ABC) and “9JKL” (CBS) premiere this week, kicking off month two of a crowded, but not incredibly creative, fall TV season.
They arrive among a plethora of reboots, military shows and spinoffs that have been criticized for not being as innovative or as good as other recent broadcast offerings (last year alone gave us “The Good Place,” “Pitch,” “Speechless” and “This Is Us.”)
“The Mayor,” which premieres Tuesday, is one of the shows in this new lineup that has inspired hope — and the pilot doesn’t disappoint.
The comedy features a timely premise full of playful political sendups, light social commentary and plenty of sharp, funny millennial-skewing pop-culture references.
Amateur rapper Courtney Rose (played by Brandon Micheal Hall of “Search Party”) wants to be famous, so he runs for mayor in his neglected, fictional city of Fort Grey, Calif.
The publicity stunt goes awry when during a debate he wins over the mainly black, working-class voters who are fed up with the usual rhetoric of local politicians. Now Rose must decide whether he’s out to truly help the community, or use the post to advance his career as an entertainer.
Nope, no parallels here.
But Rose is a charismatic leader, and the playful energy between him and his friends/sidekicks Jermaine (Bernard David Jones) and T.K. (Marcel Spears) makes this administration a delight to watch. Valentina (Lea Michele), a small-time political strategist and former classmate of Rose’s, appoints herself as an aide to the new accidental mayor, and it’s frustrating for a by-the-book climber like her. His mother, Dina (Yvette Nicole Brown), provides moral guidance and heart — and there’s a lot of heart here.
The show, executive produced by “Hamilton” Tony-winner Daveed Diggs (he appears briefly in the pilot), is also spot-on in its race- and music-related dialogue. When Rose talks to a younger kid about all the great rappers from back in the day, the kid answers “You mean like Eminem, Macklemore and Iggy Azalea?”
If the rest of the series is anything like “The Mayor” pilot, expect a fresh show with likable but green talent, a lot of charm and plenty of political references turned inside-out to reflect the frustrations and hopes of a truly disenfranchised community.
“9JKL,” which premieres Monday, takes us to Manhattan, where the series isn’t breaking any comedic boundaries, but it does entertain.
The show revolves around Josh Roberts (Mark Feuerstein). He’s an actor who just returned to New York from Los Angeles after his TV series and marriage ended prematurely.
His rebound apartment is nestled between his parents’ (played by Elliott Gould and Linda Lavin) and his brother and sister-in-law’s place (David Walton and Liza Lapira), thus the confusing name of the show. Didn’t anyone at CBS note that it sounds more like a reset password than the title of a family sitcom?
His parents smother him with unwanted attention, his brother, a wealthy surgeon who’s staying in the building while his home is being renovated, competes with him. And there’s also a wacky doorman and precocious 12-year-old neighbor who hang out in the lobby, commenting on Josh’s pathetic work and love life.
The series, created by Feuerstein and spouse Dana Klein, is somewhat autobiographical, based on Feuerstein’s own life experience of when he was working on “Royal Pains” and wound up living in an Upper Eastside apartment building next to his parents and brother.
There’s some fabulous talent here in Gould, Lavin and Feuerstein, enough to bury some of the tired old-people jokes (they shop at Costco a lot, mom can’t stop talking about people Josh doesn’t care about, and dad walks around in his underpants half the time).
The pilot promises a competent if familiar sitcom comedy that’s more comfortable than daring — and that’s OK.
When: 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays
When: 8:30 p.m. Mondays
Rating: TV-14-D (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with an advisory for suggestive dialogue)
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