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Herc Has The Back Of

I am – Hercules!!
It’s a new Fox sitcom, from writer-producers Chris Lloyd (“Frasier”) and Steve Levitan (“Just Shoot Me”), about a local TV news anchor who returns to his old Pittsburgh station after failing to take hold in the more lucrative Los Angeles market. It stars Kelsey Grammar (“Cheers,” “Frasier”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond”), Ayda Field (“Studio 60”) and the incomparable Fred Willard, secret weapon of all the incomparable Christopher Guest movies. The “Back To You” pilot made me laugh aloud, a surprisingly rare feat with sitcoms, and I liked the stuff with the daughter of Heaton’s character. Grammer, of Frasier Crane and Sideshow Bob and Hank McCoy fame, demonstrates yet again that he know how to sell the comedy. Pity it airs against “Pushing Daisies,” which is also funny and doesn’t feel like something we’ve seen a zillion times before. Pity also that “Back To You” is paired with the far less accomplished Brad Garrett sitcom “‘Til Death.” (Then again, maybe none of this matters in this era of downloads and DVRs, where one can effortlessly pry sitcoms free of their lesser half-hour partners.) USA Today gives it three stars (out of four) and says:
… Back does give you hope that it could be just what we need — a reliably funny, brashly self-confident sitcom. Now if only it were at its best more often. Don't blame the stars, who make almost every line work — though at times they work awfully hard to do so. … even when Back is faltering, you flash back to the skill of its stars and to moments when the show succeeds in making you laugh out loud. …
Entertainment Weekly gives it a “B-plus” and says:
… an old-fashioned, studio-audience, irony-free sitcom. …
The Wall Street Journal says:
… it might not matter. What "Back to You" lacks in bite, it compensates for with chemistry and pure talent. …
The New York Times says:
No one is better in the role of preening gasbag than Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”), and Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) has no equal when it comes to holding a look of long-suffering asperity. Together Mr. Grammer and Ms. Heaton lift “Back to You,” a comedy that begins tonight on Fox, into a surprisingly amusing half-hour. …
The Los Angeles Times says:
… Willard is just one of many reasons "Back to You" is so solid a comedy it seems somehow nostalgic. …
The Chicago Tribune says:
It's not the most innovative TV show of the fall , nor the most buzzed-about. So what? Very few new programs will bring viewers more pleasure than the comedy "Back to You" … … it is, unlike so many recent comedies, actually funny. That alone is reason to rejoice. …
The Washington Post says:
… The show has what might be called a healthy gag reflex; the jokes keep coming, bingety-bang, with the occasional topical reference (an embarrassing video circulated on YouTube) to remind us this is all happening now. The problem is that we need reminding. Very little about "Back to You" couldn't have been done 10 or maybe even 20 years ago. … Willard might be accused of repetition in his many, not-very-varied roles over the years, but his manner could more aptly be considered classic and his persona that of a timeless and indefatigable boob -- a creature that will never become extinct. …
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says:
… absolutely nothing about it is original or seeks to transform the half-hour genre. Still, the fact that it is executed by sure-footed comedy veterans more than makes up for the sin of familiarity. The producers and a cast headed by Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton know this dance by heart, and it is still wonderful to watch them perform it.…
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:
… funny multicamera comedy that easily delivers the laughs viewers have come to expect from these stars. …
The Miami Herald says:
… That last show would be Back to You, or as it's known around Fox, The Only One of Our New Fall Shows That's Not a Big Stinking Heap of Crap. It's a great reminder talent and not concept is ultimately what drives a television show. … doesn't do anything new -- it just does it very well. …
The San Francisco Chronicle says:
… a sitcom so old school, you can smell the late '70s upholstery on it. … Everything about "Back to You" seems culled from the musty guidelines of "How to Make a Sitcom 101" (first edition). Not that there's anything wrong with that.
The Boston Globe says:
… This comedy is painfully broad, not to mention unimaginative and derivative of every newsroom sitcom …
Variety says:
There isn't a single subtle joke in this newsroom comedy, from the weather girl's heaving cleavage to the 26-year-old news director's sweaty armpits. Still, Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton are solid practitioners of the sitcom craft, and they occupy their characters with playful ease. "Back to You" hardly looks like a breakout hit, and it's an utter mystery how a show much better suited to another network (as in CBS) wound up on Fox. That said, the series has the fixings of a respectable old-fashioned comedy, which is more than can be said for most of this fall's half-hours. …
The Hollywood Reporter says:
… There's no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to new TV series, but "Back to You" is as close as it gets. … packed with good lines, sometimes even great ones, and sprinkled with the right amount of sexual innuendo to create a hint of romantic tension. A second episode, also sent to reviewers, is just as smartly written. …
8 p.m. Wednesday. Fox.

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Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 19, 2007, 3:02 p.m. CST

    Preening gasbag

    by Ninja Nerd

    I miss "Frazier" somewhat. Wasn't always terrific, but was always good. I hope this at least approaches that level.

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 3:04 p.m. CST

    Brad Pitt as “Frasier”

    by Stuntcock Mike

    You watch, it'll happen.

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 3:04 p.m. CST

    screw this, what about the Zombie Almeida news!

    by oisin5199

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 3:13 p.m. CST

    Chicago Sun-Times: ZERO Stars "It's Awful!"

    by Sequitur

    You forgot that one Herc.

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 3:14 p.m. CST

    i wanna chek this out

    by JeanLuc Dickhard

    what the hell ..... fool

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 3:19 p.m. CST

    Quote o' the Day

    by BoggyCreekBeast

    "...or as it's known around Fox, The Only One of Our New Fall Shows That's Not a Big Stinking Heap of Crap." I love it!

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 3:33 p.m. CST

    Patricia's Funbags...

    by Kentucky Colonel

    I'd rather see those sweater-puppies that Kelsey's gasbags any day. Speaking of gasbags, his real-life wife has I.B.S. and a tendency to fart at inappropriate times, much like myself. Whoops!

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 3:35 p.m. CST

    I like the title 'Back to You'

    by Billy Batts

    I'm not even being sarcastic. It works on two levels. I don't know why I posted that.

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 3:43 p.m. CST

    "Back to You" is going to trample "Pushing Daisies"

    by C.K. Lamoo

    Watch and see.

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 4:37 p.m. CST

    Really looking forward to this...

    by oxfordruse

    ... at first for Grammer alone, because I miss Frasier so much. But now for the excellent feedback I've been hearing. The multi-camera laugh-track sitcom isn't dead, people. It was just sleeping.

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 7:23 p.m. CST


    by Paul T. Ryan

    I hated Everybody Loves Raymond and I hate Patricia Heaton's politics, and I'm sick of the archaic multicamera format. That said, Kelsey Grammer's the bomb, even if he is a Republican like Heaton. Still, I'll give this a miss.

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 8:58 p.m. CST

    Grammer is still Golden

    by jimbojones123

    Even nearing his Golden years. Pretty great show. Yeah, I choked up -- so sue me.

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 9 p.m. CST

    Back to Grammer

    by jimbojones123

    This is a lot like Frasier. It makes you think you are smarter than you really are because you get the jokes and think they are smart jokes. I can't wait til he starts talking about musicals with his gay brother.

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 10:15 p.m. CST

    It wasn't bad, wasn't great but not bad

    by TVguy4566

    I agree it did seem a lot like Frasier. In fact, I didn't see a lot of difference from this character and Frasier. The Newsroom setting doesn't help with the comparisons with the radio setting of parts of Frasier. It isn't a show that I can't miss, but it might make its way to my DVR list.

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 11:30 p.m. CST

    Pilot didn't do much for me.

    by CatVutt

    But it might grow on me. Ultimately, I think this thing will hinge on how well they use Willard, and tonight wasn't a terribly strong episode for him.

  • Sept. 20, 2007, 1:24 a.m. CST

    something we haven't seen before?

    by punto

    is it really fair to say that "pushing daisies", the show about a person who has an encounter with death and through that encounter realizes (OMFG, THE IRONY) that his/her life begins anew, is something we haven't seen a millon times before? I can think if 2 examples from this sason alone.I'm over it.

  • Sept. 20, 2007, 9:19 a.m. CST

    sounds solidly funny if not original. Though How I...

    by CrichtonAstronut

    Met Your Mother, is almost certainly going to be the best half hour on television. It's the most innovative and outrageously funny sitcom out there. Still, I like a little old school done well. It's just How I Met Your Mother has that something extra, worth making time for, not just spending time with. It reminds me of Coupling(the Brit version) which still seems as fresh and original today as it did when i first saw it.

  • Sept. 20, 2007, 12:05 p.m. CST

    It was...okay.

    by BoggyCreekBeast

    But a heck of a lot better than that train wreck afterward. At least the wife has a nice rack!

  • Sept. 20, 2007, 1:49 p.m. CST

    Loved it

    by DJJester

    I just saw it on my DVR and so long as my DVR keeps up with Fox's rapid time slot switches (as it inevitably does with every show I like on Fox) I'll continue to enjoy this show. I grew up on Cheers, Cosby, etc and its nice to have something familiar on TV to just have fun with. Screw reality, up with escapism!