If you are on the hunt for a situational comedy that will make you laugh out loud, you can check out the CBS sophomore series. It is based on a play of the same name by American playwright Tracy Letts. It first premiered under the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago in 2008 and later on Broadway in 2009.
In reviewing the Broadway production, Isherwood called Superior Donuts “a gentle comedy that unfolds like an extended episode of a 1970s sitcom” and “a warm bath of a play that will leave Broadway audiences with satisfied smiles rather than rattled nerves.” He felt if the play “possesses the nostalgic appeal of a classic sitcom, it is also hampered by some of the genre’s standard flaws. A subplot about Franco’s gambling debts feels contrived, like one of those dubious byways cooked up by writers in the later seasons of a series, when inspiration flags and the characters’ interactions have begun to go stale.
The ancillary characters… might have come straight from the Sidekicks, Neighbors and Friends rack, although the excellent actors imbue them all with a sharp specificity. The relationship at the heart of the play, between Arthur and Franco, is also not without its formulaic aspects. Mr. Letts’s depiction of this budding cross-racial, cross-generational friendship feels a little retrograde, as both Arthur and Franco reveal dimensions that confound each other but help ease the awkwardness between them… But Mr. Letts treads gently, underplaying the surrogate-son aspect of their dynamic.
In September 2016, CBS ordered the TV series, which debuted on February 2, 2017. Judd Hirsch plays the role of the shop owner. Other cast members include Jermaine Fowler, Katey Sagal, David Koechner, Maz Jobrani, Anna Baryshnikov, Darien Sills-Evans, and Rell Battle.
The CBS series revolves around the relationship between Uptown Chicago donut shop owner Arthur Przybyszewski (Judd Hirsch), his new young employee, Franco Wicks (Jermaine Fowler), and the shop’s various patrons. With the donut shop struggling financially, (as evidenced by the donuts in the background not changing despite the passage of time) Franco makes suggestions for improvement and modernization to the sometimes reluctant Arthur.
Superior Donuts’ supportive regulars include loyal patron Randy (Katey Sagal), a cop whose late father was Arthur’s best friend; her overeager rookie partner, James (Darien Sills-Evans); Tush (David Koechner), a colorful customer who uses the shop counter as a makeshift office where he keeps tabs on a variety of odd jobs via fax machine; Maya (Anna Baryshnikov), a privileged grad-school student working on her Ph. D; and Sweatpants (Rell Battle), Franco’s longtime friend who’s willing to dress as a donut to help drum up more business. Looking to cash in on the urban renewal is Arthur’s over-caffeinated neighbor, aspiring real estate capitalist Fawz (Maz Jobrani), who pushes Arthur on a daily basis to sell the building to him.