Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.
A hit NBC sitcom taught us that years ago. And when the network’s new workplace comedy “Superstore” debuts with a two-episode sneak preview Monday night, a sizable number of viewers will likely find comfort in just how silly and conventional the freshman series is.
The pilot kicks off when Feldman’s character Jonah starts a new job at a Wal-Mart-esque big box store called Cloud 9 and quickly falls for Ferrera’s character Amy. She of course is a little smitten too. But in true “will they or won’t they” fashion, a number of factors render them star-crossed including another coworker’s crush on Jonah.
Although their would-be romance is reminiscent of Sam and Diane, Ross and Rachel and of course Jim and Pam — executive producer Justin Spitzer wrote for “The Office” after all — Amy and Jonah are unique and charming enough to both embrace and eschew such comparisons. For starters, the fact that Amy is a strong-willed Latina is an update in the right direction.
Like their predecessors, Ferrera and Feldman deliver appealing performances and just the right amount of tangible onscreen chemistry or what Feldman’s character Jonah calls “moments of beauty.”
The rest of the cast holds its own especially Mark McKinney (“The Kids In the Hall”), who costars as Glenn, a hilariously awkward Christian store manager. Comedy writer and actor Colton Dunn (“Key and Peele”) also shines as a disabled wisenheimer named Garrett.
Another more subtly brilliant layer of comedy is introduced through the customers at Cloud 9. Like something straight out of a Seth MacFarlane animated series, shoppers are shown doing everything from slamming their carts into each other to relieving themselves on display toilets in not one but two different episodes. To be fair, one is a small child but still.
Are toilet jokes sophomoric? You bet. But somehow this workplace comedy makes those sorts of punchlines work in addition to refreshingly daring material about white rappers, teen pregnancy, discount-store culture, gay stereotypes and office romances.
If “Superstore” is fortunate enough to last more than one season, each character’s backstory will need to be fleshed out for added depth and plausibility.
Until then, this big-box comedy is stocked full of broad and easy laughs familiar though they may be.
“Superstore” premieres Monday Nov. 30 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC and moves to 8 p.m. Mondays beginning Jan. 4.