It seems like the must-see laugh-out-loud sitcom is slowly becoming a rare species. Except for “How I Met Your Mother,” "The Office," and the new “Big Bang Theory,” I rarely watch a sitcom these days and experience anything resembling mirth. Most of them seem like tired versions of older sitcoms thrown together in a blender, and spit out as something new.
A prime example of this is the aptly titled “Back to You.” Because after watching one or two episodes of this new Kelsey Grammer/Patricia Heaton vehicle, you’ll be saying exactly that. Not only is the show not funny, but watching it will give you an incredible feeling of Déjà vu. After all, isn’t Kelsey just playing Frasier with a new job? Instead of a talk show host, he’s now a newscaster? (That’s a big stretch.) And doesn’t it seem like Patricia’s character simply ditched Raymond and his obnoxious relatives to become a single mother?
My point is, I don’t see anything particularly original about this series, which still portrays Grammer’s character as a middle-aged self-absorbed snob looking for love in all the wrong places. I mean, am I missing something here? Is there a subtle character variation that I’m not seeing? If so, I must also be missing how different Heaton’s character is from the constantly put-upon wife she played in “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
It’s like when you go to a thrift shop and pick up a macramé belt from the sixties or a hideous velour shirt from the seventies. They’re so old and familiar, they’ve actually become chic again. I’m not sure if this is what they hoped for with “Back to You.” But the predictable scripts and rehashed scenarios feel like they’ve been gathered from yard sales and bargain basements. Quick and easy to find, but not necessarily satisfying in the long run.
This series would have been much more interesting if Kelsey was a middle-aged pre-op transsexual trying to break into local news, and Patricia was his tough lesbian boss with a heart of gold. Now that would have been worth getting back to you about.