It explains a lot that Mr. Mayor was originally conceived as a 30 Rock spinoff starring Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy; as a result, the show plays like a rushed rewrite that doesn’t quite fit. (It acts like we should know who Danson’s retired business tycoon Neil Bremer is, even though we don’t.) To be sure, Danson has been a reliably charming TV presence for nearly forty years now, going back to his days tending bar as Sam Malone on Cheers. (His gleefully kooky turn on HBO’s Bored to Death deserves a second look, by the way.) But even he can’t rescue this.
Of course, the premise wouldn’t matter as much if the show had laughs, but Mr. Mayor comes up short there as well. Fey and fellow 30 Rock/Kimmy Schmidt alum Robert Carlock serve as co-creators and executive producers, and Mr. Mayor delivers that same relentless pace of punchlines, with jokes coming fast and furious. Most, though, land with a thud, with lots of tired jabs at familiar targets (Los Angeles, millennials, social media) and few of them eliciting even a light chuckle. The tone is muddy, too, seemingly undecided between Veep‘s pitch-black cynicism and Parks and Recreation‘s earnest grassroots optimism — so it tries to do both, and neither feels genuine. (Plus, after the bruising election year we all just survived, do we even need any more political comedy at this point? Give us a year off, at least.)
By the second episode, Mr. Mayor is already resorting to bad toupee jokes and the aforementioned “PPPORN” debacle. (Really, no one at City Hall raised a red flag about that one?) Even a sure-fire winner like getting Ted Danson stoned on weed gummy bears somehow falls flat. (He ends up fighting a hockey mascot, for some reason.) The actors seem almost resigned here, too; maybe they know they’re attached to a lost cause. The one saving grace is the knowledge that everyone involved will go on to more worthwhile projects. The sooner this term ends, the better.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: Despite a fantastic pedigree and Ted Danson at the helm, Mr. Mayor falls flat with a thin concept and very few laughs.
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