Monday, February 15, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Crew' - Kevin Fears the Future When Catherine Takes Over the Team in 'I Guess That Cake Did Need to Be Refrigerated'

Netflix's The Crew - Episode 1.01 "I Guess That Cake Did Need to Be Refrigerated"

When racing team owner Bobby retires, his numbers-driven daughter Catherine takes charge - and crew chief Kevin worries she's going to fire everybody.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Netflix's The Crew.

"I Guess That Cake Did Need to Be Refrigerated" was written by Jeff Lowell and directed by Andy Fickman

This comedy certainly isn't in a race to get somewhere amusing quickly. It presents itself as a clash of the generations as it pertains to a sport they all care about so deeply. And yes, depicting the world of NASCAR offers a take that hasn't been explored all that much in a scripted format. However, the script needed another pass to punch up the jokes and storylines. Everything pertaining to Kevin's romantic life is completely empty and extraneous here. It mostly highlights how Kevin and Beth already have a banter between them. That may suggest some kind of romantic tension at some point. The two actors don't really seem to have much chemistry though. There is certainly an ease with how they communicate with each other. They care about what the other thinks in this particular environment. However, the show then hits the audience over the head with the suggestion that Kevin's life is devoted to the team. As such, he may have to limit himself to finding someone who cares about it just as much as he does. In that moment, he mostly yearns for the past as he watches the video of his own winning race as a driver several decades ago. Beth doesn't have the time to watch all of it with him. She is still the comforting presence in his world. They are positioned as having the same reactions to each new development. They react based on what is going on with the other. It's a partnership. One that could be fleshed out further with interesting complications. But again, it all feels very tepid at the moment. It's a mere suggestion of some kind of depth without the execution to inform the audience this is an expectation to set. Moreover, the show should be more devoted to providing details to these characters. Catherine exists much more as an idea than as someone with unique purpose in this world. She comes in to take over the team. People fear that she is going to innovate the garage with technology which will jeopardize all of their jobs. And yet, she offers nothing new to this environment that actually backs up that suggestion. Sure, she has lunch with a driver. She essentially looks at Jake as the most immediate problem for the team because he is dim and easily distracted. That's typically such a lovable role too. It works in so many different contexts. That's why it is always a reliable construct for various comedies. It's easy to make that come across as forced as well. Moreover, Kevin not understanding the younger generation is meant to be the point too. That means everyone comes across as foolish. That makes everything less effective when that is meant to be the whole point with Jake. Again, it's complicated because the creative team seemingly hasn't thought all of these dynamics through. This could all easily change as the season develops. But the conflict that the premiere builds towards is shockingly devoid of any real tension. That comes from the audience not really fearing that any significant change is going to come to this crew. Moreover, Jake wins the race against Jessie even though he also crashes the car because he gets distracted in the end. That would seemingly reinforce the point Catherine is trying to make. No real consequences are to be found though. The show writes all of that off. Kevin and Jake win this bet. They survive the initial change Catherine was hoping to make in reforming this team. That's still boring though. It offers no sense of conflict in a legitimate way. It's meant to be heightened in a comedic way often utilized to offer a comforting product to the viewer. That escapism can be fun. It still has to have meaning though. With Kevin, his actions do come from a place of maturity. Karen has the insight to know that he is too devoted to his job to offer a real relationship. He has that experience and maturity. People can learn from that. That's a valuable perspective. The show just doesn't seem to do much with these engaging themes. This premiere feels padded in a way that doesn't quite feel right. That's strange. These issues are typically fixed when tightening up the script before production starts. In judging the final product though, it feels half-baked in a way that doesn't offer any charm or intrigue that it could massively improve at some point in the future. That's disappointing.