Summer 2015 Review: Mr. Robinson

12 Aug

Mr. Robinson

Hi, decade of the 90s. You seem to be missing a sitcom. I like Craig Robinson. I think he has some natural charisma and comedic sense. Unfortunately, it’s not well-used in this sitcom which seems pulled straight from 20 years ago.

Of course, there’s the laugh track, but I’ve talked about that many times before, so I’ll merely made the one sentence point of how ridiculous it is that the laugh track still survives, but moving on.

Craig Robinson plays Craig, a substitute music teacher and part-time bandleader. He’s a slightly more grown up version of the classic Seth Rogan-Judd Apatow immature adult. He’s both a little more mature, relatively (he’s actually a teacher, and he’s good at it) and older (about 15 years older than most of the Apatow-esque prototypes) but the idea is strikingly similar. He’s been making nothing of his life – being smooth and charming and well liked but without a real steady career or money to his name. Out of the blue, at one of his shows, he sees an old ex-girlfriend Victoria who he stood up twenty years ago for prom. He finds out she works at the school they went to growing up and he somehow manages to get himself a substitute gig there where he can pursue her further.

There’s a mish-mash of sitcom tropes pervading Mr. Robinson. Mr. Robinson is filled with Characters, characters with ridiculous over-the-top attributes. Mr. Robinson is one, signing, and dancing, and attempting to snake-charm everyone he meets. His brother, his co-band leader, is his fun-loving slightly negative influence who nonetheless is there for him when it counts. The new school principal (played by Frasier’s Peri Gilpin) is immediately suspect of Craig, but her effeminate superior is a big fan of his band and excited to have him on board. The fellow teachers include the most cartoonish character, the gym teacher who prefers to be called “Magnum P.E.” (that-guy TV actor Ben Koldyke who played among other roles, newscaster Don in How I Met Your Mother) and teacher Ashleigh (Spencer Grammer, Kelsey’s daughter, and voice of Summer in Rick & Morty) who both Craig and his brother immediately recognize from her weekend second job at the local strip club. Pretty much all of these characters are ripped from old style sitcoms, each more over-the-top characters with big, loud, distinctive styles and characteristics who rattle off punch lines that stand in for smarter jokes.

The episode ends with a classic sitcom gesture. Craig’s students, who adore him after a mere week, try to help him get together with Victoria by restaging a version of the prom he had stood her up for years ago. The gesture of course works in salving old wounds but is in vain as she hasn’t broken up with her boyfriend like Craig had believed. Craig is forced to attend the prom at the expense of missing the biggest gig yet for his band, a supposed first episode stab at being more mature, but everything works out in the end when he gets to the show late and brings a crowd. Everyone wins, except the viewers.

I may not have explicitly stated it yet, but you probably get the correct idea that Mr. Robinson isn’t very funny, and there’s certainly nothing else redeeming about it that would make up for the lack of laughs. Oh well.

Will I watch it again? No. It was not very good.

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