Can Superstore deliver the goods?
Despite scoring with The Carmichael Show this summer, NBC then backslid with the dismal Truth Be Told (may it die a swift death). Now, the network is hoping to recoup its losses with two new comedies, the first of which is Superstore. Officially scheduled for a January premiere, Superstore offers a sneak peek with back-to-back episodes on Monday at 10/9c following The Voice.
Created by The Office's Justin Spitzer, Superstore stars America Ferrera in her long-awaited return to TV after her breakout role on Ugly Betty ended. She plays Amy, a 10-year Cloud 9 megastore vet, who forms a very bad first impression of the fun-loving yet elitist new employee Jonah (Ben Feldman). A colorful group of colleagues orbit the pair to round out the workplace comedy.
Before entering Superstore's automatic sliding doors, here's what you need to know:
1. Business as usual: On one hand, much of Superstore is entirely too familiar. Cloud 9 is a thinly veiled homage to Walmart, down to the associates' blue vests and mockery of the more taste-challenged patrons. The predictable crass humor and targeting of low-hanging fruit, however, are at least inoffensive in their good-natured goofiness.
2. Funny business: On the other hand, like Walmart itself, Superstore is a category killer and does not specialize in any one thing, nor one type of humor. That allows for some unexpected laughs, such as when one bride-to-be tries on a wedding dress from the "Farrah Abraham collection." Or that time when someone said about an uber-cute male co-worker, "He looks like a panda and a Disney princess had a baby." Irreverent? Ludicrous? Sardonic? Slapstick? Bizarre? Tick all the boxes.
3. God bless America: The uneven material benefits from star Ferrera, whose presence not only anchors the show, but also provides warmth and authenticity even in the most inane situations. We discover very quickly that there is far more to Amy's story, and for the first couple episodes, that's enough to give us someone to root for. She has a potential love interest in Jonah, whom Feldman plays with equal confidence, but fortunately their chemistry isn't reliant on romance. In fact, we'd be more than happy if they ended up becoming nothing more than strong friends.
4. It's all heart: Eventually, each of the other supporting characters -- ranging from Mark McKinney's clueless Christian store manager Glenn to pregnant teen associate Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) -- get to display other dimensions of themselves. Past all the quirkiness, insults and bravado is always an inherent decency and willingness to do right, while the show deftly sidesteps wandering into preachy territory.
5. A world of difference: Despite its contemporary references, Superstore has a timeless vibe, partly owing to its retro interstitial music but also because much of the action takes place in its own, contained big-box world where no one is ever too degenerate or cruel. While we're behind Cloud 9's doors (or even in its asphalt jungle parking lot), it's easy to buy into the fantasy.
Check out a trailer for Superstore:
Superstore's special one-hour sneak peek airs Monday at 10/9c after The Voice on NBC. It makes its official premiere on Monday, Jan. 4 at 8/7c.