The Sunday Stream

On paper, Abbott Elementary definitely works. It’s based on a premise that hasn’t been mined for comedy that often with success (I see you, AP Bio): teachers inside schools. So anytime you cast actors as teachers dealing with students or going against the school system, it feels like it should work. Add to that the tool used ingeniously by The Office and Parks and Recreation, with a “camera crew” being hired to film the day-to-day of the teachers, and the possibilities are endless… if done right. Here, on Abbott, which began airing on ABC last month, it is done right.

Created by comedian Quinta Brunson who stars as teacher Janine Teagues, Abbott Elementary is what happens when a group of dedicated, passionate teachers–and a slightly tone-deaf principal–find themselves thrown together in a Philadelphia public school where, despite the odds stacked against them, they are determined to help their students succeed in life. The supporting cast includes Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter as veteran teachers, with Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) and Brunson as the wide-eyed visionaries. Janelle James is the principal that may or may not deserve her job (spoiler alert: she doesn’t), and William Stanford Davis as the school’s janitor makes me laugh each time he’s on screen.

Brunson not only leads the cast but also wrote the episodes that have aired so far, and if this small sampling is any indication of where the series is headed, count me all-in. Abbott Elementary is a comedy that strikes a balance between humor and humanity. It’s quickly become priority television, and I can’t wait to see what Brunson and company take on next.

The jury, however, is still out on NBC’s Grand Crew, which like Abbott had a sneak preview last month before settling into its Tuesday night time slot. Created by writer/musician Phil Augusta Jackson, the comedy gives viewers a sneak peak into the lives of a group of young Black professionals in LA who happen to love wine.

Jackson, who has previously written for NBC’s Brooklyn Nine Nine and HBO’s Insecure, seems to want to tap into the dearth of Black men-led sitcoms in Hollywood, which is admirable. The three episodes that have aired so far have given us some good moments, especially from Echo Kellum, who stars as Noah, and Carl Tart as Sherm. What’s been missing is the steady stream of laughs the show is obviously going for, with too many jokes falling short of the mark.

I want to like Grand Crew. I really do. And I’ll continue to watch in hopes that the show finds its sweet spot. Like a fine wine. If not, it will probably be off the air sooner rather than later. Unless of course NBC gives it time to breathe, like a fine wine. Or like Seinfeld, another NBC sitcom that took a whole season to find its footing and went on to become one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. Here’s hoping Grand Crew can do the same.

Abbott Elementary airs Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC. Grand Crew airs Tuesdays at 8:30pm on NBC.

Adrienne Warren is so good as Mamie Till-Mobley in ABC’s limited series Women of the Movement. I watched the first two episodes earlier this week and even with all of the heavy material, she has proven to be up to the challenge.

Usually when you watch a television series, you are given sides to root for, especially when it comes to drama. I’m imagining that’s the case with Paramount Plus’ Mayor of Kingstown, which stars Marvel alum Jeremy Renner. It feels that there are nothing but anti-heroes here, with no clear character to feel in tune with. And surprisingly, that’s OK. I still enjoyed the ten episode first season. Go figure.

Nicci Carr, the Black actress who starred in the hilarious Geico “Scoop! There It Is” commercial, has a story that should be getting more attention than it has. Just giving her a shout out here and hoping folks take a look at her journey since the taping of the award-winning ad.

Earlier this week I found myself bingeing the entire first season of Bounce TV’s Johnson. Yes there were characters that felt like nails on a chalkboard, and yes some of the storylines felt muddled and unrealistic. However, I have to say, I didn’t hate it. That’s all I got.

The audio issues on NBC’s This Is Us have carried over from last season into this past week’s Season 6 premiere. What I thought was a problem due to last year’s awful shooting and post-production schedule has now become a regular thing. And it’s distracting. Here’s hoping they fix it so the final season isn’t marred by terrible sound.

This week, the newest CW superhero serial makes its debut. It’s titled Naomi, and stars Kaci Walfall as Naomi, a comic book-loving, adopted teenager from a small hometown. Executive produced by Ava Duvernay and based on the comics of the same title, I can’t wait to check it out this Tuesday.

What are you watching? Please leave a comment and let me know.

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