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Time to Watch the 'Superior Donuts'?
February 1, 2017  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 

Most of the civilized world would root for a family-run neighborhood doughnut shop that takes on Starbucks.

The question is whether they would patronize it.

The same question could also be asked about Superior Donuts, the CBS sitcom that premieres Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET before moving to Mondays at 9 p.m. ET.

You gotta love a show where a lifelong Chicago doughnut man decides to dig in when Starbucks opens across the street in his gentrifying neighborhood.

But gotta love it doesn’t mean gotta watch it, and network sitcoms have had a tough battle lately.

Superior Donuts, happily, comes into the fight with some weapons. Judd Hirsch (top) plays the doughnut man, Arthur Przybyszewski, who resists trying to suddenly become trendy even as hipsters invade his turf and business is falling.

When a young woman who’s giving his shop a try looks up from her phone long enough to order a latte, he snaps back that no, he doesn’t serve latte -- “because it’s Italian for ‘Overcharge me because I’m a pretentious Millennial.’ “

The plotline of Superior Donuts kicks into gear when Franco Wicks (Jermaine Fowler, top) comes by looking for a job.

Franco has as much attitude as Arthur. When Arthur’s cop friend Randy DeLuca (Katey Sagal, left) drops by for some maple creams, she and Franco get into a conversation.

When he reaches for something on the wall, he cracks, “I must really trust you. I turned my back on a Chicago cop.”

Franco gets the job and starts selling Arthur on making the shop a local go-to spot again. That doesn’t necessarily mean installing a latte bar or getting rid of the non-working 1960s jukebox, but it does mean advertising and social media. Needless to say, that’s foreign turf to Arthur, who just wants to arrive in the morning and make doughnuts.

Naturally, the shop does have some regulars, including flighty Maya (Anna Baryshnikov); Tush (David Koechner), who has made Superior Donuts his office; and DeLuca’s over-eager trainee partner James (Darien Sills-Evans).

It’s the sort of dysfunctional de facto workplace family that worked in, says, Cheers or Hirsch’s Taxi. It’s a promising sign that the acting is solid, with good chemistry between our leading odd couple and Sagal sliding easily back into the comedy saddle after her run on Sons of Anarchy.

As the “Chicago cop” line suggests, Superior Donuts will be dipping into social commentary jokes. Arthur is regularly visited by his rival Fawz (Maz Jobrani) who emigrated from Iraq, and that kicks off an immediate volley of sarcastic lines about terrorists.

Let’s guess it won’t be too long before immigration jokes also join the repertoire.

The show focuses on laughs, however, and the first episode doesn’t give any real clue whether the social commentary will get serious, in the style of All in the Family, or remain glancing.

Superior Donuts does, however, quickly develop characters we like, which raises hope that they won’t just be props for one-liners. The whole issue of Mom-and-Pop stores in the age of Starbucks and Wal-Mart carries a certain level of inherent relevance.

On the basis of the first taste, Superior Donuts is worth checking out.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Dennis McGough
Looks like a Chico & The Man ripoff.
Feb 1, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
 
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