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UNDATEABLE -- "A Live Show Walks Into A Bar" Episode 209B -- Pictured: (l-r) Ron Funches as Shelly, Rick Glassman as Burski, Chris D'Elia as Danny, David Fynn as Brett, Brent Morin as Justin -- (Photo by: Darren Michaels/NBC/Warner Bros.)
(Photo by: Darren Michaels/NBC/Warner Bros.)
Last summer, I was pleasantly surprised when I watched the new NBC series UNDATEABLE, for which I had pretty low expectations.  Based on the NBC promos the show didn’t look promising. But after watching the first few episodes, I was hooked.   The show revolves around a group of misfit friends who hang out at their friend’s bar, Black Eyes.  Although they are all said to have jobs, they seem to spend a great deal of their time at the bar.  That’s probably where the “undateable” part comes into play.  The premise is pretty simple: losers are funny.  Some of the greatest tv sitcoms thrived on this conceit:  THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, TAXI, MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, CHEERS and ROSEANNE to name a few.

The show stars Chris D’Elia who was the highlight of NBC’s two-seasons too many sitcom WHITNEY.  Here, D’Elia gets to show off what makes him a popular stand-up comic, quick-witted line delivery and the ability to contort his body into any position to get the desired laugh.  He does a great job with sharing the spotlight with an ensemble of relatively unknowns.  Each character is quirky, but clearly defined.  Aside from D’Elia’s Danny the motley crew consists of Justin, the earnest bar owner; Leslie, Danny’s divorced wine loving sister; Shelly, the lovable teddy bear; Brett, who recently came out of the closet; Burski, a geek with the hots for Leslie; and Candace, a young waitress.

While the show initially set up their version of a “Ross/Rachel will they-won’t they” with bar owner Justin and waitress Nikki, scheduling conflicts for the actress playing Nikki forced the show to abandon the story, and shift to a new potential romance for Justin with starry-eyed and naive waitress Candace.

The show is silly and it’s quite obvious the cast, many of them stand-up comics, are having a blast improvising through most of their scenes.  But what won me over was this season’s one-hour live episode.  It was filled with tons of guest stars including musician Ed Sheeran, SCANDAL’s Scott Foley and an array of actors from executive producer Bill Lawrence’s previous show SCRUBS. It was honestly the most fun hour of television comedy I’ve watched in a long time.  The cast performed live for both the east and west coasts so it was a treat to see how the shows and performances differed.  That episode continues to be a go-to for me when I’m bored and looking for something that’s pure entertainment. This was the first time in TV history that a sitcom performed a one-hour live show.

Is the show as “clever” as MODERN FAMILY? No, but I’ve laughed out loud more watching UNDATEABLE than I ever have with MODERN FAMILY.   UNDATEABLE reminds me of the early seasons of THE BIG BANG THEORY, which weren’t perfect but once the show found its footing, it became the top rated comedy on television.

UNDATEABLE is like the perfect neighborhood bar – friendly, comfortable, easygoing and there’s no cover charge.

Give UNDATEABLE a shot.  There are only 23 episodes, so it’s an easy binge on VOD before the new season begins on Friday, October 9 at 8pm.

Check out a clip from the live episode below:

Have you watched UNDATEABLE?  What do you think?

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