Thursday, October 27, 2016

‘The Great Indoors’ is Better Than it Looks

Stephen Fry and Joel McHale star in the new comedy, The Great Indoors.
Stephen Fry and Joel McHale star in the new comedy, The Great Indoors. (CBS)
Initially, the TV promos for the CBS comedy, The Great Indoors, looked terrible. It is as if CBS found all the dumb lines featured in the pilot episode and used them to promote the show. So, imagine my surprise after watching it. It’s not bad.

Now, The Great Indoors isn’t perfect by any means but some tweaking of the show could help. First of all, get rid of the laugh track. If you have to tell me when to laugh, then the joke’s not funny. Second, get rid the penis jokes another immature and/or offensive jokes. That alone will clear up a lot of things.

What saves this show is the great casting of Joel McHale, Stephen Fry and Susannah Fielding. These three carry the show and without them, the show would fail. (At least I think it would. I was sure that Kevin Can Wait would be the first fall show to get canceled and instead, CBS gave it full season run, so what do I know?) Stephen Fry gives the show a little more class than we're used to as well.

The premise of the workplace comedy is that takes place inside the walls of the Outdoor Limits magazine. Jack (McHale) plays a renowned adventure reporter for the magazine and has always spent his time out on the field, but things are changing. In the pilot episode, Jack is informed by Roland (Fry) that the printed version of the magazine will be no more and Outdoor Limits will be an exclusive online publication from here on out. The biggest problem with this change is that the crew that Roland has working for him have no real “outdoor” experience and haven’t a clue about what they are writing about. These millennials are experts at social media and know how to draw in readers, but they don’t know how to keep them.

The crew consists of Clark (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who idolizes Jack and one of the few there who actually know who he is. He’s a techie who knows how to survive on Mars but not in the woods. Then there is Emma (Christine Ko) who is the social media expert who compares Jack to dial-up internet service and Mason (Shaun Brown) whose survival skills consist of how to look the part and nothing else. The three report to Roland’s daughter and Jack’s former love interest, Brooke (Fielding), who rewards the younger ones with plastic trophies for their “hard work” whereas Jack would like to punch them in the nose.

The humor in The Great Indoors is pretty well-balanced with jokes going back and forth about how “old fashioned” Jack is and how younger ones needed to be treated with kid gloves or they will fall apart. One employee balks at Jack’s leadership since she got passed up for promotion, again, and she’s been with the company for a full eight months. Another spends his work time doing his private podcast. With Jack’s “insensitivity,” he is called into meetings with the H.R. department twice before the first episode is over. However, it turns out that Jack knows nothing about modern media and so truth is, he needs this group as much as they need him. It The Great Indoors can concentrate on good storylines and character development, CBS just might have a real hit on their hands. Let’s hope that they don’t blow it.

The Great Indoors airs on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.