Has election fatigue set in? If so, that could be bad news for “Mr. Mayor,” a new NBC comedy about a rich outsider who decides to run for mayor of Los Angeles.
Unfamiliar with its process, billboard magnate Neil Bremer (Ted Danson) runs, wins and begins to flip the tables.
As an opening salvo, he decides to have no deputy mayors. That bothers insiders, particularly those who oppose him. So, he appoints one – an opponent who thinks he’s an idiot and isn’t afraid to say so. Holly Hunter plays the dour, no-nonsense Arpi Meskimen and becomes a pawn – not the queen’s gambit – in Bremer’s chess game.
Created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, “Mr. Mayor” has the same goofy quality as “30 Rock” (it was created as a spinoff) but not the same insider gamesmanship. This is very much what most people think happens in politics – idiots run the show and are reined in by well-meaning assistants.
Here, Bremer is well-served by Makaela Shaw (Vella Lovell) and Tommy Tomas (Mike Cabellon), two long-time insiders who know how the job should be done. They’re joined by Jayden Kwapis (Bobby Moynihan), a less-adept assistant who often draws Bremer duty.
Together, they serve as his sounding board (not unlike Tina Fey’s character in “30 Rock”). The goal is to show just how much they can learn from him but, really, this is a no-win game.
Again, we’ve had too much of real politics in the last year to really care how enlightened businessmen can become when they enter the game.
Danson does a bit of the goofiness we saw to better effect in “The Good Place” and Hunter is so stern it’s surprising someone didn’t pull her aside and point out this is a comedy.
Stray bits of information (like a straw ban in Los Angeles) bring a smile; direct steals (how to spell “syzygy” was a plot point in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”) suggest someone didn’t do due diligence.
The two holdovers – Lovell and Cabellon – could be the show’s breakout stars, if it lasts that long.
Again, because we’ve had more than enough of politics, Carlock and Fey need to steer this in a direction that doesn’t rely on inept leadership for its laughs. “The Politician” is devious and delicious; “Veep” was positively subversive.
“Mr. Mayor” just counts its votes and hopes for the best.
Two episodes in and we’re looking for a recall.
“Mr. Mayor” premieres this month on NBC.