I mention One Big Happy because Mr. Robinson continues a befuddling comedic decline for NBC, which was previously drowning in the best sitcoms around, be it Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, and Community. Hell, this is the network that aired Seinfeld, Friends, and Will & Grace, some of the biggest, most game-changing, half-hour formats of television series in history. But Mr. Robinson isn’t a television show, not in any way that traditionally defines the medium. Plot holes so gaping they rival a Damon Lindelof script pop up and are breezed over, characters move from scene to scene with no sense of time or purpose, and infantile conflicts are tied up in such sickeningly easy ways that even the writers room at The Andy Griffiths Show fifty years ago would have laughed.
Maybe all of this would be fine, the proverbial white noise, if the show had anyone remotely interesting to watch on screen. Alas, co-creators Mark and Robb Cullen miss the mark yet again. Some are decent (Robinson himself, Spencer Grammer does what she can with her misogynistic scripts) but others are just downright cringe-worthy (keep an eye out for Ben Koldyke’s “Magnum P.E.” teacher Jim Hoopoer and prepare a pillow to hide behind). Tim Bagley as Supervisor Dalton and Peri Gilpin as Principal Christine Taylor are the one-two punch of stilted, misread dialogue and nails-on-a-chalkboard annoyance. Between their stern demeanor and “goofy” hidden personalities, they’d undoubtedly be more at home in a Nickelodeon series from the mid-aughts than placed in a show on a network that once gave the world the near-perfect 22 stretch of episodes that was the third season of 30 Rock.
Like I said, Mr. Robinson isn’t a television show, not by 2015’s standards. What is it, then? I’m not really sure. A joke by a flailing network, which plans to dump the show in two-episode bursts over three weeks? A paycheck for its lead? A lazy settlement for someone whose channel just happens to be on NBC this Wednesday night? Maybe none, maybe all. What I do know is this, like any sane person I judge a comedy by how many times I laugh. If something I know is bad makes me laugh, it’s easy to be more lenient. I know Mr. Robinson is bad, and I laughed exactly zero times. Take with that what you will.
Mr. Robinson is not a television show - it's a test of patience, a low-bar for Robinson's next project to surpass, and - at best - a source of background noise to cook dinner to for anyone who accidentally stumbles upon NBC this Wednesday night.