Steven Levitan delivered a truly funny, laugh-out-loud, tear-eyed comedy with To restart. Not only are the laughs sustained throughout the series, but there are tender moments of reconciliation within the family and an introspective look at how reboots are a good thing for everyone.
Hannah (Rachel Bloom) is an up-and-coming independent filmmaker who gets the chance to reboot the hit sitcom “Step Right Up” for Hulu. Network executives wonder why a writer of her status would ever want that, as she explains her plan is to make the show less straightforward and more authentic.
Given the green light, the original cast, played by Reed Sterling (Keegan-Michael Key) Clay Barber (Johnny Knoxville) Bree Marie Larson (Judy Greer) and child star Zack (Calum Worthy) are recruited to star in the series . The stars have fallen on hard times and are happily accepting the new show. Just as Hannah is preparing to start production, a surprise comes out of nowhere, when original showrunner Gordon (Paul Reiser) shows up and insists on joining the production.
Several shows and movies are rebooted in one form or another, but To restart is a new take on a film and television concept. To restart has a cast of stacked talent that has ample opportunity to shine. The relationship drama between Bree and Reed is amplified by the immense talent of Keegan-Michael Key and Judy Greer. They’re a match made in heaven, playing the stranded actors who were once in a relationship and who may or may not still have feelings for each other.
Johnny Knoxville gives his best performance yet. By playing the reformed Clay, Knoxville instills his character, who was at the heart of debauchery in the original series, with heart and a desire to do good, but with a hint of a crude streak that fits right into the story. .
Rachel Bloom as Hannah is a delight to watch, as she struggles to meet the needs of the actor while meeting the needs of the writers, striving to make the show a success, and sharing the tasks with Gordon. While audiences will laugh with Hannah, viewers will sympathize with her because she’s not jaded by success or the Hollywood system. Hannah is a good person, and Rachel Bloom makes Hannah a refreshing and dynamic new character in a world that seeks to recapture the magic of the past.
Paul Reiser is a gift as Gordon. From his first scene, Reiser portrays Gordon as a cynical, backsliding talent who has survived the Hollywood game and refuses to change – until he and Hannah start working together. Reiser is part curmudgeon, but also a gifted producer who has the power to bring funny people together. There’s a lot not to like about Gordon, but Paul Reiser’s brilliant portrayal has us laughing with glee as Gordon navigates a world he knows well in a whole new boat.
Calum Worthy plays the adult version of Zack, who was the child star of the original series. Worthy lives up to his moniker as he struggles to get his screen time, making Zack some much-needed comic relief while showing viewers he’s one of the few people on set to be comfortable with himself.
To restart is truly an actor’s feast for comedy, but the chemistry between the actors, whether it’s Greer and Key trying to figure out how to work together, Knoxville trying to make sense of Clay’s present while coming to terms with the past, or the jokes of Bloom and Reiser in the writer’s room and then offloading on each other is what makes the show a gigantic diamond in a mountain of streaming content.
Viewers will be sucked in by the talented leads, the incredible writing that delivers each episode, and the behind-the-scenes watching make a rebooted sitcom. From the hijinks of the cast to the unfortunate saying that attaches to Dennis, one of the nicest members of the team, To restart is funny with a capital F, and not to be missed.