|Cedric the Entertainer and Max Greenfield. (CBS)|
CBS comedies as of late have pretty much have been hit or miss. With The Big Bang Theory (the network’s most successful comedy) closing up shop after this season is over, CBS appears to be searching for the next hot comedy to take its spot. Unfortunately, The Neighborhood is not it. At least, not yet. The show has a good cast and it attempts to have some heart woven into the silly storylines. Unfortunately, those are punctuated with a laugh track reminding viewers when to laugh. It’s pretty sad when you see what these shows could be if the creators only took a little more time with them.
The Neighborhood has a fresh concept that sounds good on paper. What happens when a white family moves into a black neighborhood? High hilarity apparently. Max Greenfield (The New Girl) stars as Dave Johnson, moving his wife Gemma (Bth Behrs) and son Grover (Hank Greenspan) so that Gemma can start work as a school principle at a special progressive elementary school. The only house they can afford to buy is smack dab in the middle of a black neighborhood and right next door to the street’s leader of sorts, Calvin Butler (Cedric the Entertainer) and his Tina (Tichnia Arnold) and adult sons Marty (Marcel Spears) and Malcolm (Sheaun McKinney).
Calvin explains to his son that there are two kinds of racists – white people who hate black people and white people who love black people. The latter like to treat black people as projects so they can feel good about themselves he says. Tina isn’t as negative as Calvin, but she’s isn’t all fun-loving either, despite that is how she likes to present herself to others. Dave goes out of his way to continually put his foot in his mouth which in a way just proves Calvin’s point. Meanwhile, Tina and Grover seem pretty convinced that Calvin is the one who’s racist. Malcolm is in the middle being the only one who seems to understand Dave. The last few minutes of the pilot episode shares a heart-to-heart between the two and is actually the best part of the half hour show, but it can’t make up for the poor writing and over-exaggerated expressions of its players that proceeds it. It's a shame because this the show could really tackle some difficult races issues in a relate-able, funny way if done well.