CBS comedy “The Neighborhood” is a complete contradiction.
On one hand, it is very forward thinking in its concept. A comedy that addresses race relations — that sounds like a cultural home run. But “The Neighborhood” uses the stalest and uninteresting stereotypes to keep its plot afloat.
The cast is a mixed bag. Cedric the Entertainer is in his element when it comes to the sitcom style, which plays off well for his character. Unfortunately, this makes other performers look like they’re floundering.
Max Greenfield is evidently trying, but his character is so one note that any funny lines he delivers come off as grating and annoying. The supporting characters range from ‘great!’ to ‘emotive as a plank of wood.’
Despite the evidence of a novel idea somewhere in the clockwork of this pilot, so many of the plot points are predictable and dull. It’s easy to see where the characters will become tongue-tied or say something that is anything less than politically correct and into a pickle. There is a very little anticipation of punchlines because so many of them are apparent from the first second of the setup.
There is a right way to approach a sit-com like this, but it seems as if “The Neighborhood” missed its stride for that. The comedy seems to be trying too hard with material that just doesn’t cut it.
And no, the show does not get bonus points for addressing the elephant in the room at the end. If “The Neighborhood” thinks that despite making fun of race relations for the entire pilot that it can have a candid conversation about the same subject in the last five minutes, it has another thing coming.
You can’t play laugh tracks over a serious topic and then try to address it honestly. It doesn’t work.
“The Neighborhood” could become funny if it learns to make jokes about something other than racism and the tension that comes with it. Until then, it might be best to move out.