Kelsey Grammer returns to the sitcom as Chuck Darling, a LA TV anchorman who gets fired after an on-screen outburst and has to return after 10 years away to his old anchor job at a Pittsburgh TV station. This pilot episode concentrated on the awkwardness of his re-forming the relationship with his old co-anchor, Kelly Carr (Patricia Heaton) and everything he’d left behind. Despite Chuck sharing a number of Frasier Crane’s character traits (pompous, self-obsessed, unlucky in love) this was a consistently funny opener with great performances from the leads and supporting cast. So we were pretty disappointed to learn that a second series hasn’t been commissioned.
What was good about it?
• Grammer can play this sort of character in his sleep, but rather than phone it in, it was like watching a virtuoso guitar player strut his stuff.
• Grammer works best when he’s got a strong female character to bounce off, (think Roz in Frasier) and Heaton was excellent as the resentful Kelly, jealous of the success Chuck has had.
• Fred Willard was great as the chauvinistic dimwit sports reporter Marsh McGinley, (“I’ve never cared for the word ‘sperm’. Or ‘Voila’ for that matter!”) as was Ty Burrell as news reporter and frustrated anchorman Gary Crezyzewski and Ayda Field as sluttish weathergirl Montana Diaz Herrera.
• The banter between the latter two was great. Montana: “I’ve gotten very far using my Latina.” Gary: “It’s pronounced La-tie-na.” Gary: “I know I can be a little whiny.” Montana: “I believe it’s pronounced a little weeny.”
What was bad about it?
• We could see the revelation that the father of Kelly’s daughter was Chuck coming from a distance of ten thousand miles.
• Hopefully, Chuck’s persona will develop more over the series, because the differences between Chuck’s character and Frasier’s could be written on the back of a postage stamp.