First Review: Back to You

It’s genuinely surprising that Kelsey Grammer is returning so swiftly to network television again, and to the unforgiving workload of sitcoms.

But that’s just what he’s doing in taking on Back To You. Paired primarily with Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond), the two forge a strong anchorage as TV News anchors.

What’s also encouraging in this zippy, light forum is that Christopher Lloyd is the show’s co-creator and James Burrows is director. Lloyd spent many years penning Frasier, and Burrows worked on Frasier, Cheers, Will and Grace, Taxi and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. If anyone can create acerbic, ruthless lines of dialogue for a connoisseur of the English language, Kelsey Grammer, it’s Lloyd. Thankfully, it’s the audience that reaps the benefits -and there are plenty here.

Grammer and Heaton are effortlessly comfortable here, even if Grammer still looks like he is merely Frasier Crane in another guise. He’s still superior to everyone around him, still chasing romance, and still teetering between snappy and crumbling mess. But that’s just why we love him.

Pittsburgh replaces Seattle, as Chuck Darling (Grammer) returns to co-anchor the evening news he left ten years earlier. Kelly Carr (Heaton), with whom he had a brief fling years before, is hardly happy with the arrangements. The two squabble off camera as soon as the red light is off (somebody tell Mary Kostakidis and Stan Grant this is on, please?).

Fred Willard, who has provided much mirth in the mockumentaries of Christopher Guest as well as Everybody Loves Raymond, is a joy as the vacuous sports guy and Ayda Field should be good fun as Montana, a Latino weathergirl who insists on being called a meteorologist.

Back to You is also something of a rare breed now – a 3 camera, studio-based sitcom. Most of the new US comedies (The Office, My Name is Earl, Ugly Betty) are single-cam, location based comedies without a laugh track. Back To You is traditional, television theatre from a heritage that knows this terrain like the back of its hand.

If they can sustain the level of nonsense they reach in the pilot, there’s every good reason to tune in for the latest bulletin. Frasier is almost back in the building.

Back To You premieres 8:00pm Wednesday February 13 on TEN.

7 Comments:

  1. Back to You definitely caught my attention more than ROE. I never watched Frasier or Cheers so I can’t really comment on Grammar’s past work (except Sideshow Bob) but I definitely loved the pilot episode. Laughed hard at that Warehouse fire bit followed by Chuck’s “Oh thank god!” yellout. I’ll be looking forward to more episodes.

  2. I agree with pietro, why the heck did they introduce a daughter for emotional scenes when it’s a sitcom! Having said that, Grammer and Heaton’s performances are as superb as ever.

  3. It has some good one-liners and Kelsey and Patricia work well, though I think the situation with the daughter is corny.

    But there are only 6 episodes available aren’t there?

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