Reviews

November 6, 2020

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “B Positive”

 

B POSITIVE – Thursday 8:30PM on CBS

These are tumultuous times.  (Hell, as this is being written, these are tumultuous hours.)  And that’s true in the world of broadcast television as well, which was already being hammered by new technology and viewing habits even before the pandemic hit.  And yet the model of the CBS sitcom, along with its procedural drama template, exists in a sort of suspended animation where TV is still very much what it was a decade or more ago.

The network’s latest comedy arrival B POSITIVE had the good fortune of being the only network pilot to be finished before coronavirus shut down production last spring.  But even if it had faced competition from other pilots, it was a near-certainty to get on the air, coming as it does from a Murderers Row of TV veterans.  The presiding Executive Producer is Chuck Lorre, who’s been at the center of the CBS comedy firmament with series like The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon and Mom.  The show’s creator Marco Pennette, recently a writer/producer on Mom, has a resume that goes back 30 years.  And the combined experience of the two of them is dwarfed by that of pilot director James Burrows, the acknowledged king of the multi-camera sitcom. The cast, too, is a roster of familiar faces.

As has been the case with Lorre’s recent comedies like Mom and Netflix’s The Kominsky Method, B Positive leavens its one-liners with character crises.  Drew (Thomas Middleditch from Silicon Valley) is a divorced psychologist with a broken marriage (to Julia, played by TV regular Sara Rue), who discovers that his kidneys are failing.  He needs a transplant, but he has no close relatives or friends to match, and the wait on the transplant list is years long.  Luckily, he randomly bumps into old high school classmate Gina (Annaleigh Ashford from Masters of Sex among other shows) at a wedding, and she’s both agreeable to donating a kidney and a match.  Less luckily, Gina is herself a mess, a cheerful bus driver for an assisted living home by day, but a party girl with the nighttime persona of “Becca” who will be challenged to stay off alcohol and drugs for the 3 clean months required before the surgery.  (In her Becca form, Gina is encouraged in her bad behavior by BFF Leanne, a character played by Kether Donohue who’s so clearly a toned-down version of Donohue’s role on cable’s You’re the Worst that they might as well have named her Lindsay Lite.)

Although B Positive isn’t starting out by going down the rom-com road, it’s going to chart the growing closeness of Drew and Gina, as they help each other through life’s challenges.  Everyone involved with the show knows their craft, and B Positive seems like competent comfort food where nice people do silly things and have problems that mostly get solved in the 22-minute span of an episode.  Middleditch and Ashford, as well as Rue and Donohue, are likable presences.  What seems to be missing is any sign of the slight edge that Lorre brought to Mom and Kominsky Method, shows where the protagonists have often been selfish and destructive to themselves and others.  Without that, B Positive seems merely pleasant.  And while there’s nothing particularly thrilling about that, to be fair, right now “pleasant” isn’t necessarily a bad thing for viewers who are getting more than enough excitement in the rest of their lives.

 

 



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on screened.com and the-burg.com. In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."




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