blockbuster-movie-review-2022

“Blockbuster” - TV Show Review

Story posted November 14, 2022 in Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D’Ovidio.

This past Thursday, Netflix released a new original series, “Blockbuster,” a workplace comedy set in the last remaining Blockbuster on earth.

The series creator/executive producer Vanessa Ramos is known for work on recent comedy darlings such as “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Superstore.”

Considering the show also stars beloved sitcom veterans Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”) and Melissa Fumero (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), “Blockbuster” seemingly had the perfect recipe for a massive hit.

Instead, “Blockbuster” is another example of Netflix dancing all over the grave of the company they single-handedly killed.

Okay, it wasn’t that bad.

There’s something so much more demoralizing about a show with high potential being subpar than watching any other mediocre series. 

But “Blockbuster” is even more disappointing because the glimpses of a modern classic within the ten-episode first season make the low points feel much lower.

It’s not that the series does anything inherently wrong or bad; it just lacks that “it” factor, something that makes the show something other than cute.

That said, “Blockbuster” isn’t a complete failure or an unwatchable show; the main problem with the series is its reliance on tired sitcom tropes and the misuse of a unique premise/setting.

The highlight of “Blockbuster” is definitively its cast.

As expected, Park and Fumero are charismatic as ever and manage to turn some of the most boring storylines into somewhat entertaining ones.

The rest of the cast, especially Olga Merediz and J.B. Smoove, also fall under the same can-charm-their-way-out-of-tired-plot-points their series leads occupy so well.

But that’s the thing if someone wanted to watch Park, why not watch “Fresh Off the Boat?” That’s a show that actually delivers on a unique premise.

Want to see Fumero play a witty character in a will-they-won’t-they situation with a childish co-worker? Why not turn on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine?” Her character isn’t reduced to the relationship, and Andy Samberg and her have much better chemistry.

Not that Fumero and Park have bad chemistry; it’s just Jake and Amy give the infamous Jim and Pam a run for their couple-goals title.

But that’s part of the issue with “Blockbuster” ; it doesn't do anything new and does things worse than the sitcoms that came before it.

When comparing sitcoms, they fall into a couple of different categories, but many can surpass their predecessor or reach the same level.

“Abbott Elementary” and “Parks and Rec” both utilize the same mockumentary style and basic concept of “The Office,” but they take the series' strengths and apply them to a new and unique mundane failing workplace.

There is so much that could be capitalized on, working at a company that goes from corporate-backed to an independent small business, having co-workers of drastically different ages or even just the nostalgia of Blockbuster.

Instead, “Blockbuster” often feels like a copy-paste of a “Superstore” outline. Working in an industry that’s failing because of the digital age in a low-paying job which causes the employees not to have a great standard of living (like “The Office” also…).

It also doesn’t help that “Blockbuster” airs on the exact thing that killed the store it demands the audience to care about. It’s a weird viewing experience, like if “Superstore” was on Amazon Prime.

“Blockbuster” relies so heavily on the maybe-romance between Fumero’s Eliza and Park’s Timmy that sometimes while watching, it feels like maybe the concept would’ve been better applied to a romantic comedy instead.

Their relationship is basically the only memorable plot line and, if given a chance to flesh it out, could join the rest of the beloved workplace comedy romances.

Their will-they-won't-they is still fun to watch, just with fewer stakes.

Maybe it’s because almost every other workplace comedy utilizes an almost similar friends/frenemies to lovers trope. Still, none of those ever felt tired or over-relied on in the way “Blockbuster” does with Timmy and Eliza.

With most of “Blockbuster,” it isn’t the trope itself but the misuse of it in a decidedly exciting concept.

In an era where “Abbott Elementary” has been thriving, it’s clear that viewers are tuning in to sitcoms. So as much as it would be easy to say that the workplace sitcom has just been overdone, it clearly hasn’t.

To give the show credit where it’s due, the last episode of the season was by far the best one. It was so much better than the rest; it was frustrating to realize that no more episodes were left after trudging through the previous nine.

Both “The Office” and “Parks and Rec” had this level of forgettable and mundane first seasons of their immensely celebrated series. If “Blockbuster” is given a second season, maybe it could follow in those footsteps.

The series has the potential to be better than what it initially put out. With a writer's room that knows the characters better and can take in the feedback of the poor use of setting, “Blockbuster” might not be a complete upset.

“Blockbuster” is a fun, cute and silly watch but largely misses the mark that the projects it gets its credibility from nailed so well.

Rating: 2.5/5

Sophia D’Ovidio is a second-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu.