On Nov. 3, Netflix ironically released “Blockbuster,” a new sitcom about a fictionalized version of the last Blockbuster video store. Blockbuster was a movie-rental chain popular during the 90s and early 2000s; however, stores began to shut down due to competition from Redbox kiosks and none other than Netflix’s mail-order service and eventual streaming options.
Created by Vanessa Ramos, the show revolves around the struggling Blockbuster store and its ensemble of employees. Store-owner Timmy Yoon, played by Randall Park from “Fresh Off the Boat,” does his best to keep the place afloat while battling his affections for longtime crush Eliza, played by Melissa Fumero of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Though the rest of the cast may be under the radar, Park and Fumero are rather big names, having made positive impressions during their time on wildly successful shows. Yet, their presence is overshadowed by their characters, who lack depth, chemistry and most importantly, a sense of humor.
Despite its relatively fun ensemble of side characters, like employees Carlos, Hannah and Connie, the show simply cannot compare to workplace comedies of the past; “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Superstore” and “Abbott Elementary” are all far better shows.
This is due to several missteps in the creation of “Blockbuster.” First of all, the show seriously lacks plot-wise. Most of the hype over the series stemmed from the irony of Netflix releasing a show about the company they themselves had a role in taking down. Yet “Blockbuster” never truly references the competitors to Yoon’s store.
The show instead seems to focus on the more general nature of owning a small business; though the subject deserves merit, there was not nearly enough discussion about breaking away from corporate or the store becoming obsolete. The overall concept had great potential, but “Blockbuster” flopped in terms of execution.
Had the show steered toward emphasizing the Blockbuster brand, it would have attracted far more viewers. For example, the last Blockbuster store in real life is located in Bend, Oregon, and became a popular site for its status and associated nostalgia. It would have been interesting to see a sudden influx of customers visiting Yoon’s store due to the dying brand.
Another aspect of “Blockbuster” that caused confusion was its timeline. Everything from the outdated computer props to the actual quality of the show suggested that it took place in the late 90s or early 2000s. Viewers eventually learn that it is set in 2022 — this is jarring considering the current domination of streaming services.
“Blockbuster” is not awful by any means. As a whole, it doesn’t do much wrong, but the show’s downfall is that it doesn’t do enough right. “Blockbuster” is funny, but has very few laugh-out-loud moments. It also has a few lovable characters, yet they are not enough to warrant investment in the show. While “Blockbuster” is not necessarily a bust, the show is unworthy of a second season.
“Blockbuster” is, however, a great show to watch in the background; it won’t distract from hands-on activities like cooking or paint-by-numbers, but will keep you relatively entertained.