For fans of shows like “The Office” or “Parks and Recreation,” the new Netflix sitcom “The Crew,” though certainly capable of keeping you occupied, will likely leave you feeling unsatisfied and wishing NBCUniversal didn’t drop a small fortune to get some of your favorite sitcoms removed from Netflix.
Feb. 15 marked the release of this NASCAR Productions-backed TV sitcom starring Kevin James as “Kevin Gibson” 一 the crew chief at Bobby Spencer Racing. As it happens, his character is inspired by real-life crew chief Tony Gibson of Stewart-Haas Racing. In fact, Gibson himself could be found hanging out behind the scenes. He helped Kevin in finding inspiration for his character and also helped to shape the layout of the set itself. Other main characters include Beth Paige, the office manager turned best friend, Amir Lajani, the nerdy chief engineer, Chuck Stubbs, the quirky car chief, and Jake Martin, the wholly dumb but hot race car driver.
The functionality of this NASCAR garage is uprooted when Bobby Spencer himself decides to move to Hawaii for retirement and elects his tech-savvy, ivy-league graduate daughter Catherine to run the team. What unfolds are clashes of stereotypical dichotomies including tradition versus innovation, age versus youth, experience versus. education, and more.
Even though you want to support Kevin James’ old-fashioned humor and grumpy — yet adorable, somehow — old man trope, the tired punchlines and lack of depth miss the mark most of the time. Not to mention the all-too-noticeable product placement marketing scheme and laugh-track presence don’t help the cause. So despite having clear potential for a unique take at the start based on the setting, this series reveals itself to be just another workplace sitcom, all you have to do is cut the random racing footage and vroom-vrooms.
However, here is the thing, if you are in need of something to pass the time, to play in the background, or to actually watch and giggle on occasion, this show might be just what the doctor ordered. Your full attention is hardly required and overall this is an easy watch with very low stakes. I hope you do enjoy it if you decide to give it a try. But in my most humble opinion, maybe just go for ‘Community’ instead.