A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mr. Robinson is a multi-camera sitcom focused on the comical misadventures of Craig Robinson: soul musician by night, music teacher by day. As a musician, Robinson performs funky novelty songs full of cheesy double-entendrés, though he insists "Chocolate Muffins" -- with lyrics such as "Don't lick the bowl, baby. It tickles, but it feels weird" -- is really just about baked goods. There are a surprising number of gratuitous expletives, with "bitch" used repeatedly. Drug use is referenced, and a couple of students are shown with a joint.
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What's the story?
Craig Robinson stars as Craig Robinson (yes, really), a soul musician who plays nightclubs around Chicago with his band Nasty Delicious. When he's hard-pressed for cash, he substitute-teaches music to high schoolers. That is, his teaching used to be on a substitute basis, until a chance meeting with an old high school girlfriend inspires him to make the teaching gig permanent -- at the same school where she teaches, of course.
Is it any good?
Every predictable school-based sitcom trope is employed here, from the array of stereotypically kooky coworkers to the sarcastic (but ultimately sweet) kids in Craig Robinson's class, who become a part of his plot to win back his lost love. Robinson is a genuinely funny man, as seen in The Office, This Is the End, and Hot Tub Time Machine, but this is one of the most toothless and predictable sitcoms in recent memory. It's genuinely depressing watching a guy who stole so many scenes in some of the best comedies of the last 10 years sleepwalk his way through a show that comes off like a dated mash-up of older, better shows and movies such as Hanging with Mr. Cooper and School of Rock. The supporting characters, featuring a similarly wasted Peri Gilpin (who was so memorable as Roz on Frasier), bring nothing new to the table, and the laugh track is downright oppressive. The plot lines on MR. ROBINSON are ones we've seen countless times before: Robinson's band scores an important gig that just so happens to be on the same night as the mandatory teacher meeting. Whatever will he do? Do we even care?
The strangest part of Mr. Robinson is how intensely it struggles to settle on an overall tone. From the retro title cards to the throwback premise, it aims for the comfortable familiarity of an old-school sitcom that would have been better suited for the airwaves 20 years ago. But by the same token, it makes some embarrassing attempts to be more cutting-edge, which mainly results in pointless drug references and awkward renditions of Iggy Azalea songs. And for a show that has about as much grit as an episode of Saved by the Bell, there's a surprising amount of sexual innuendo. Some of the dialogue borders on racist; at one point, Gilpin's principal character refers to Mr. Robinson as a "Nubian prince" with an "African musk" and reprimands him by saying "You're subbin' in the wrong school, Shaft!" This sort of lazy writing and one-note character development is what keeps Mr. Robinson and its otherwise talented cast from rising to the head of the class.
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