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DVD Review: Back to You – Season 1

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Like many of its unfortunate contemporaries, Back to You was done no favors by the writers’ strike.

Sure, unlike several axed shows that were nowhere to be seen after the strike hiatus finished, Back to You made a return to the air in late February, but this was a show that needed all the breaks it could get — just not a two and a half month long one. The strike undercut any hope the show had of establishing a solid fan base, and despite achieving better ratings than its lead-in – the wretched ‘Til Death – it wasn’t picked up by FOX for another season.

So, presumably the show is canceled for good, but rumblings of Back to You being shopped to other networks are still around, despite no conclusive evidence. And oddly enough, the DVD set is titled Back to You: Season 1, leaving the door open for subsequent seasons, I guess.

Honestly, I hope no one picks it up. It’s passable entertainment most of the time, but you can’t help feeling like sitcom veterans Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton are slumming it a little bit, and really deserve better material than this. The show was hotly anticipated for this teaming of perceived comedy gold, but even these two can’t shake off the blasé that Back to You wallows in.

To their credit, Grammer and Heaton give it their all, tossing barbs back and forth and engaging in all sorts of ridiculous physical comedy for the good of the show, but Back to You is about a decade too late. Multi-camera sitcoms without a healthy dose of irony are so 1995.

Besides the utter lack of originality, many of the weak scripts rely primarily on rapid-fire sexual innuendo for humor, and it gets old really quick. “This just in” is only funny if Michael Scott follows it up with “That’s what she said.”

It’s a shame too, because Back to You has a fresh, talented supporting cast beside the firepower of its main stars. Josh Gad as the harried news director shows a nice sense of comic timing, and the ever reliable Fred Willard gets the majority of the laughs for his socially maladjusted sports anchor; sure, it’s basically the same character he always plays, but who cares? He’s hilarious.

Back to You had potential, and if it happens to be renewed somewhere else, it may find its footing and show the kind of maturity that takes time to develop in a sitcom, but I think it would just be better for all parties involved if it dies a quiet death. As long as it runs, Back to You will merely be a shadowy reminder of much better television shows that preceded it – ones with the same actors, but with sharper scripts, fresher ideas, and more laughs.

The Back to You: Season 1 DVD contains all 14 episodes that aired on FOX, plus three un-aired episodes that have some confusing chronological problems – it’s not clear where in the order of things they should have aired. Clearly, this was a hastily assembled set, as the DVD menus are cheap looking and non-intuitive navigation-wise. The three-disc set also contains three unsubstantial special features – two making-of featurettes that are comprised of clips from the show more than anything else, and a short gag reel.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.