Ted Danson Has Made A Career Out of Quality Sitcoms
Our self-serving politicians could really use a strong supporting cast, who could help them become more in tune with everyday voters. It might not succeed in overcoming the greed that has overtaken Washington, but a strong staff certainly could not hurt.
The same can be said about a new sitcom about a politician, NBC's “Mr. Mayor.” Veteran actor Ted Danson, who has starred in no fewer than three sitcoms already, portrays the title character.
He is a retired businessman who runs for, and is elected, as the head decision maker of Los Angeles. Just as a mayor needs a trusty staff to succeed, Danson is aided by a strong supporting staff of fellow veteran actors.
Holly Hunter, who starred in her own sitcom Saving Grace, gets second billing here. Former Saturday Night Live regular Bobby Moynihan is another regular, as fellow SNL alum David Spade and Wireless star Andie MacDowell also have recurring parts.
In spite of that acting talent available, “Mr. Mayor” has so far come across as unfunny. It has featured a few good jokes, such as Danson's outburst of laughter at learning the man with bandaged hands and feet was named “Manny Petty.”
Overall the script unfortunately relies on cliches, but there are two much bigger problems besetting the show. The most obvious is the timing, given the current status of the United States.
Few Americans, given the current turmoil in our country, can find any humor in politicians. Even though the show's focus is a local elected official, viewers cannot be amused by the idea that he was a businessman before becoming a politician.
When the title character says something off the cuff, it is supposed to land a few laughs. The Mayor is not unlike branch manager Michael Scott in “The Office”, who was able to elicit humor from his inability to adhere to political correctness.
Those jokes do not work in “Mr. Mayor”, for he is a politician and 2021 is a much more sensitive time than the days when viewers laughed at Steve Carell's character in “The Office.” That show hit its peak when America had a black president, therefore easing the sensitivity of racial tensions.
A second problem with the new series is not as blatant as its political theme, yet it still strains the credulity of the premise. Complicating the Mayor's life is his teenage daughter, which would usually provide an added opportunity for plot twists and laughs.
It fails here, neither because of the acting nor the writing. Danson is 72 years old, which makes sense as a retired businessman but not for the father of a teenager.
Although the script has yet to explain the background of the relationship, simple math indicates that the Mayor had to be in his late fifties when his daughter was born. The idea of a man becoming a father at such an advanced age is unlikely, but not as unlikely as his having full custody of the girl.
Most of us viewers are tuning in to our televisions more than ever, since our outlets to escape the stress of the pandemic have been limited. We would gladly embrace a half hour sitcom, especially one with such a talented cast. What we do not want to see, however, is a show that relies on politics for punch lines, even if the main character is only “Mr. Mayor.”