Ken Tucker
May 02, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Back to You

type
TV Show
Current Status
In Season
run date
09/19/07
performer
Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Ty Burrell
broadcaster
Fox
genre
Comedy

We gave it a B+

This is not so much a season-ending review of Back to You as a public request for the renewal of this saucy, still-under-construction sitcom. Back is about two unmarried Pittsburgh anchors — Chuck Darling (Kelsey Grammer) and Kelly Carr (Patricia Heaton) — who bicker but share a 10-year-old daughter from a one-night stand. The gimmick (just resolved) has been that Kelly, a harried control freak, doesn’t want the child to know that Chuck, an incorrigible bachelor, is her father.

What we viewers have known from episode 1 is that the big laughs emanate not from secret-family dynamics but from the newsroom, where Grammer, Heaton, and a terrific supporting cast (including the fantastic Fred Willard as a grinning-moron sportscaster) banter and complain. If these scenes have the crackle of sitcoms like Cheers and Taxi, well, it’s because the grandmaster of the form, James Burrows, has directed every episode.

But with low ratings, the producers are centering on domestic issues and last-minute fixes. They recently replaced the perfectly fine actress (Laura Marano) who played daughter Gracie with a perfectly fine different girl (Lily Jackson). Why?

Back to You could evolve into a show with classic star interplay; it just needs to calm down behind the scenes and place its office laughs front and center. If Fox won’t do it, memo to NBC’s Ben Silverman: This should be your replacement for Scrubs. B+

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