Take Me to the Pilots '17: ABC's 'The Mayor'

[I'll remind you at the top of every single one of these: These entries are not reviews. They're gut reactions to not-for-air pilots that could change in big and small ways between now and September or October or midseason. Full reviews will come then. They'll be longer. And more carefully considered. The opinions may even change. Who knows?]

Show: The Mayor (ABC)
The Pitch: "Spinderella City ... Only ... With a Male Rapper?"
Quick Response: Like Fox's Ghosted, ABC's The Mayor is very much a premise pilot, spending 22 minutes explaining how an aspiring rapper (Brandon Micheal Hall) accidentally becomes mayor of his California hometown. And then the show can really start in the second episode. As premise pilots go, The Mayor is livelier and feels less perfunctory than Ghosted, actually giving the main character a central conflict — to rap or to rule! — and showing some of the complications of his election while building out a solid supporting cast around the very likable Hall. Yvette Nicole Brown as the main character's mother is the clear standout, but Bernard David Jones and Marcel Spears as his two buddies have promise. I don't think the show has quite figured out how to make Lea Michele funny, and since Lea Michele is actually very capable of being funny, creator Jeremy Bronson and company need to watch a couple seasons of Scream Queens. The pilot is not really as musical as initial buzz indicated and the promised songs from Daveed Diggs don't play a very prominent role, and that leaves it hard to get a real read on what kind of rapper/performer/artist the main character is, which feels relevant to me. It's also hard to really tell what kind of town he's now leading, which also feels relevant to me. These aren't big problems, but if your pilot is prioritizing premise over laughs, and there are only a couple chuckles here, they're questions that might as well have been answered. In lieu of laughs, there are some smart beats, a little bit of heart and two or three too many, "This is the theme of the show to cap the pilot" false endings.
Desire to Watch Again: Reasonably high. The pilot belabors the premise, but it's a good and workable premise and the characters have potential. As a rapping George Washington once said, "Winning was easy, young man. Governing's harder." Now The Mayor needs to govern, which should also be more entertaining.

Take Me to the Pilots '17: Fox's 'Ghosted'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: NBC's 'The Brave'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'Young Sheldon'
All of my 2016 Take Me to the Pilots Entries

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