Three episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
On paper, planting Craig Robinson as the star of his own sitcom in which he shenanigan-izes his way into teaching public school kids music isn’t a bad idea. Robinson has proven his mettle along with the likes of Seth Rogen and Danny McBride in movies like This Is The End, and the tease of seeing his shtick once a week is endearing.
NBC’s Mr. Robinson, however, is not. It’s one of the most weak, formulaic and downright offensively unfunny sitcoms to come along in quite some time. It sticks Robinson in a lead role that’s so spick-and-span clean he’s reduced to becoming what I’d imagine Chef from South Park would end up like on the Disney Channel, and it doesn’t even have the decency to light a fire under its star with snappy dialogue. But the funny thing is, it’s also hard to take umbrage with a show so lackadaisically paced and seemingly bored with itself. The hate is there, but if the writers can’t be bothered to avoid writing a hyper-nerdy science teacher with thick glasses, sweater vest combos, and a massive hard-on for the stripper-cum-math teacher, then I can’t be bothered to rip their work to shreds.
So, this will have to do: Mr. Robinson is set in Chicago and follows the trials and tribulations of Craig Robinson, part of a late-night bar reggae group called Nasty Delicious. His brother Ben (Brandon T. Jackson) is also in the band, and he objects initially to Craig’s plan to infiltrate his old high school as a substitute music teacher in order to win the affections of long-gone and accounted-for crush Victoria (Meagan Good).
I’d say think of it as School of Rock by way of something else, but it’s School of Rock. Except the kids aren’t in it as much as is initially hinted at, given the pilot’s rag-tag performance of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.” But, then again, that’s probably a good thing as they just compound onto the show’s suffocating air of familiarity each time they pop up. Here’s the crazy goth kid with death-related bon mots, here’s the shy nerdy girl, here’s the bitchy queen bee and the bad-boy future drug dealer. They don’t matter, and maybe a show with better writing could have found a sweet spot in the TV landscape to do an episodic spin on the classic Mr. Holland’s Opus/School of Rock formula, but Mr. Robinson is closer to this spring’s One Big Happy than anything else.