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Television review

NBC’s ‘Superstore’ veers from silly to sophisticated

NBC’s latest ensemble workplace comedy stars America Ferrera (front) as a floor supervisor at a big-box behemoth clearly based on Walmart.COLLEEN HAYES/NBC/NBC

NBC continues to show an affinity for ensemble workplace comedies with the new sitcom “Superstore.” Like the paper-pushers at “The Office,” the creative misfits of “30 Rock,” the small-town government employees of “Parks and Recreation,” and the Nerd Herders of “Chuck,” “Superstore” offers up a retail island of misfit toys in a big-box behemoth.

The series airs two “sneak peek” episodes Monday at 10 p.m. before returning Jan. 4 to settle into its regular 8 p.m. time slot. If it doesn’t yet come close to the comedic heights of its predecessors there are some good finds in its aisles. It also evokes some of the sensibility, if not quite as bleak, as the 2002 Jennifer Aniston film, “The Good Girl.”


Clearly based on Walmart, Cloud 9 is far from heaven for floor supervisor Amy (the winsome America Ferrera, of “Ugly Betty”). She recognizes the daily drudgeries and absurdities of selling off-brand products and cubic-zirconia knockoffs. Into the store comes new employee Jonah (Ben Feldman, last seen inducing swoons on the underrated “A to Z”). He thinks himself a little too fancy for an environment where artfully stacking soda cans is one of the few means of workplace self-expression. (It isn’t made clear in the first three episodes how Jonah landed on Cloud 9.)

The ensemble is rounded out by familiar types who are given small, but crucial, fresh twists. The best of them are rapaciously ambitious new associate Mateo (Nico Santos) and slacker jokester Glenn (Colton Dunn).

Created by Justin Spitzer, who wrote some excellent episodes of “The Office,” “Superstore” veers from silly to sophisticated to sour notes as quickly as you can go at Cloud 9 from housewares to toys to guns.

The finest line the show has to walk is drawn in its opening moments when Jonah mistakes Amy for a customer and comes off like a snob. With recurring sight gags focused on the store’s less savory customers — a child test drives a potty, an adult test drives an actual toilet — that toggle between absurd and acidic, “Superstore” needs to heed its own advice about avoiding condescension.


Ferrera and Feldman have a nice chemistry, but a serious obstacle to potential romance thrown in at the end of the pilot also means that the writers will need to be very careful with the pair’s work flirtation. Like the type of operation it represents, “Superstore” has a little bit of everything, not all of it good, but there are gems to be had in a few departments.

Television review


Starring America Ferrera, Ben Feldman, Colton Dunn, Nico Santos, Nichole Blum, Lauren Ash, and Mark McKinney. On NBC Monday, 10 p.m.

Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.