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TV Review: Turn Up Charlie

TV Review, Netflix, Comedy, Drama, Music, Idris Elba, Piper Perabo, Sitcom, Turn Up Charlie

Synopsis: Turn Up Charlie centers on the titular Charlie (Idris Elba), a struggling DJ and eternal bachelor, who is given a final chance at success when he reluctantly becomes a ‘manny’ to his famous best friend's problem-child daughter, Gabby (Frankie Hervey). 

TV Review, Netflix, Comedy, Drama, Music, Idris Elba, Piper Perabo, Sitcom, Turn Up Charlie

Review: While we may be awaiting People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive to be named the sucessor to Daniel Craig as James Bond, we can make do with this harmless and formulaic sitcom about a 40-something loser who supplements his part-time work as a DJ by working as a nanny for his best friend. Yeah, that doesn't sound like a role you would expect to find Idris Elba in, but here it is. Turn Up Charlie is a nice if generic series that also shows us the first real comedic work from Idris Elba, an actor more at home playing criminals (The Wire), cops (Luther) and big screen bad guys (STAR TREK BEYOND, the upcoming HOBBS & SHAW). Despite not being the action franchise he deserves to be headlining, Elba clearly puts his heart and soul into this passion project that combines elements of the actor's real life musical pursuits. It isn't great, but it shows Elba can play any role, even if it is ten years too late.

Turn Up Charlie is a half hour, single camera comedy focused on the titular Charlie, played by Idris Elba. Inspired by Elba's own life, Charlie is a DJ who had a run-in with success before squandering it. Now, he plays parties and lives pay to pay in his aunt's home. Sleeping around and acting like a struggling twenty-something, Charlie would otherwise be characterized as a loser. Simply by being played by Elba, who is a DJ in real life and lends an authenticity to that aspect of the role, it is difficult to really find him believable in this role. Elba is very charismatic and carries himself with confidence, so seeing him in this light makes it hard to suspend disbelief enough for this concept.

TV Review, Netflix, Comedy, Drama, Music, Idris Elba, Piper Perabo, Sitcom, Turn Up Charlie

Regardless, Turn Up Charlie is clearly a passion project for Elba who shares a creator credit alongside Gary Reich. It also shows that he is just as capable of handling comedy as he is drama and action. Looking back through Elba's filmography, his only really comedy work has come in the form of voicing characters in ZOOTOPIA and FINDING DORY. Turn Up Charlie shows that his talents as an actor clearly go beyond action and drama and could go toe to toe with someone like Dwayne Johnson. Multiple times through my viewing of this series, I imagined seeing Elba and Johnson in a buddy cop comedy or even a future JUMANJI sequel. Elba is that talented and natural and fully earns all of the acclaim he has garnered as an actor.

Aside from Elba, the rest of Turn Up Charlie's cast is solid including JJ Feild (Turn: Washington's Spied) as Charlie's childhood friend, David, and David's wife Sara, a famous DJ. Played by Piper Perabo, Sara and Charlie have instant chemistry which initiates a potential love triangle subplot in the show. All of this works well enough, but it is the "manny" thread of the narrative that comes off as unnecessary and cliche. Charlie takes an offer from David and Sara to care for their precocious daighter Gabrielle (Frankie Hervey). Like every nanny movie or show, Gabrielle is a terror who makes all of her caregivers quit and it takes one special relationship to turn everything around. Yes, it is hokey and cliche and it is difficult to look past that with the rest of the series having potential.

TV Review, Netflix, Comedy, Drama, Music, Idris Elba, Piper Perabo, Sitcom, Turn Up Charlie

I am not embarassed to say that I enjoyed Turn Up Charlie. It is predictable and lame in places, but it also has a good deal of heart. If it succeeds in anything, it is showcasing a different side of Idris Elba. Charlie's "one-hit wonder" heard on the show, was actually written and performed by Elba, giving more authenticity to the character and the story. Not everything here works and it is worth a quick binge if you like your entertainment light, but it definitely doesn't tread any new ground comedically. Turn Up Charlie is perfectly fine for what it is and that is better than half the sitcoms airing on network television.

Turn Up Charlie premieres March 15th on Netflix..

Source: JoBlo.com

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