Good Actor, Poor Show: Fred Willard in 'Back to You'
Good Actor, Poor Show: Fred Willard in 'Back to You'
In BuddyTV's 2007 Fall TV Guide, we analyzed which great stars are working on shows that aren't worthy of their skill levels. The three to earn that distinction in 2007 are Fred Willard in Back to You, Jerry O'Connell in Carpoolers, and Joshua Malina in Big Shots.

Fred Willard is a comedic semi-genius.  Ten, 20 years ago I might have given him full-fledged genius, but the man is 67-years-old (though he doesn't look it) and slowing down just a tad.  In recent years, Willard has given scene-stealing performances in the Christopher Guest films Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind, and more mainstream fare like Anchorman.  Ironically, he'll be gracing the small screen this Fall in a sitcom likely inspired by Anchorman's success in the new FOX sitcom Back to YouBack to You stars sitcom legends Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton as adversarial anchor-people.  Back to You has yet to be made available to anyone (bad sign) and the promos have been, for lack of a better word, cringe-worthy.  Despite the star power involved, Back to You looks like your typical unfunny sitcom, which leads me to this question:  Why, Fred Willard?  Why? 

At 67-years-old, a comedian of his stature should pick and choose the very best projects to be involved with.  It's his life, and he should definitely do whatever makes him happy, but he's had a good streak of standout roles in big comedies.  Why move to the small screen at this point?  The one thing that makes sense in him being cast on Back to You is his connection with Patricia Heaton.  Heaton starred opposite Ray Romano on Everybody Loves Raymond, a show which Fred Willard regularly guested on.  He received consecutive Emmy nominations for his work, and there's a good chance Heaton was the one who brought Willard to Back to You.  Even so, I can't help shake the belief that it's below him.

Then again, I'd be happy if Willard proved me wrong.  You can't argue with Kelsey Grammer's resume of sitcom hits.  If Back to You attains half the success of Frasier, and the show gains a solid following, maybe it'll be worth it.  Maybe Willard is going to receive a 2008 Emmy nomination for Supporting Actor.  Willard deserves better than a job on a mediocre sitcom, which is what Back to You looks to be.  Let's hope it's not. 

<<Previous   Next>>

Comment if you agree or disagree. Also check out these other actors who cannot save their shows: Jerry O'Connell in Carpoolers and Joshua Malina in Big Shots.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV
(Image courtesy of FOX)