There’s a new comedy that started this month called Mr. Mayor. It’s about Michael J. Fox working for the city…errr, no wait, that was Spin City from 1996. Right, no this one stars Brandon Michael Hall as a hip-hop artist who runs for mayor as a publicity stunt…err, nope, that was The Mayor from 2017. Wait, which one is this again?
Oh, right, THIS comedy about a mayor is about a rich business-type with a teenage daughter who doesn’t think he knows how to work, so he runs for Mayor to impress her. Uh-huh. The show opens with his first day on the job, having no clue what he’s doing. Gee, that sounds like the other ten shows about idiots becoming mayor, or finding new meaning as a councilperson, or blah blah blah.
So, let’s get to the good stuff. This one stars Ted Danson. Cheers. Becker. Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Good Place. Okay, maybe not all a laugh riot. So let’s go back. Remember Cheers? Okay, it’s kind of like Sam Malone was a rich business type but became mayor. Not as stupid but still a lovable goof. Yeah, okay, it’s not selling me either.
And I have to confess. Most of the time, I find Danson watchable but far from funny. He does a great reaction to impossible situations, the deer-in-the-headlights type double take, and you want to root for him, but the older he gets, the smarmier he starts to look like the playboy Sam Malone rather than the one who tries. Is he awesome? Nope. Watchable. So not an obvious “goodbye” but not an obvious “gotta watch” either.
The supporting cast
The supporting cast so far is made up of a rival, three worker bees and a daughter. Let’s start with the worker bees.
Vella Lovell plays his social media-savvy person who helped get him elected and is now repulsed by what she has done, but likes the health care coverage. The only thing I’ve seen her in before is Crazy Ex-GF, where I lasted most of an episode before bailing. She’s okay, but nothing to write home about. Her partner in crime is played by Michael Cabellon, the political assistant who will run the mayor’s day and advise him what’s next. I’ve seen him in a couple small parts in other shows, and he has a bit of presence, but his character hasn’t gelled yet to know what his role will turn out to be. Straight man? Funny one-line commentator? In-the-know disgusted looker? Who knows. Meh.
Bobby Mynihan plays the acting deputy comms director and the character is pretty much clueless about everything. He doesn’t care about the politics, just keeping the train running. For the acting though, I love the portrayal. Quirky without being over the top, more understated, and if the show were to last, could be a huge breakout position. I didn’t recognize him from Saturday Night Live as I haven’t watched in years, nor oddly enough, as the voice of Chet from Monsters Inc. Nor from the role of Me, Myself and I as the middle version, but I didn’t watch the show long enough to register anyone other than John Larroquette being terrible in it.
So two balls and then a base hit.
Enter the daughter played by Kyla Kennedy. I was surprised you actually got to see the daughter at school, running for Class President, even if only briefly. Maybe she’ll actually have a role other than original catalyst, and she does have a couple of good straight scenes. I saw her briefly in Speechless, but it’s on my binge list and haven’t got back to it. I’d give her a nod for his one, didn’t suck.
And then we come to the other heavy hitter…Drum roll please….Holly Hunter. When I saw that Holly Hunter was in the show as a political rival who tried to run and didn’t make it on to the ballot, and now is running around as a councilwoman with a chip on her shoulder, I thought, “Well, that’s a bonus.”
Raising Arizona? Meh. Broadcast News? Wow. The Firm? Okay. The Incredibles? I like her voice for the mom, Elastigirl. And then there’s Saving Grace. Unusual. Riveting. Amazing performance throughout.
And then there’s Mr. Mayor. Crickets. I don’t want to sling mud, she’s not horrendous or anything, she’s still Holly Hunter and she knows how to act, but beyond that? There’s nothing about her to love.
The greater crime
So I have Ted being watchable, Holly being okay, the daughter decent, the two staffers meh and one possible breakout performance. Not screaming “watch me”, right?
And yet, I could forgive all of that for one small requirement, particularly in the aftermath of 2020. Make me laugh.
I don’t want much. I’ll settle for some softballs. A titter here, a titter there? Is that too much to ask for?
Apparently it is. It says the show was created by Tina Fey with the idea of a spin-off from 30 Rock before being retooled as a whole new show, and maybe it would have worked the other way, but it doesn’t work here. TV Grim Reaper checks the stats and it would be foolish to bet against his predictions or Ted Danson. Reaper says “likely renewal” so far? I say, “No chance”. I’d cancel before EP10. I’m so far out, I can’t even see LA from where I am.