I was a little underwhelmed by the first episode of The Great North, it introduced a number of characters effectively but it didn’t seem that original when compared to the various Fox animated comedies, and while vaguely amusing it didn’t make me laugh that much. This suffers from some of the same problems as the first episode as well, there’s a lot of characters involved including guest stars Uncle Brian (Rob Delaney) and his daughter Becca (Shannon Woodward), while Hamm (Paul Rust) has a romantic interest in the form of Crispin (Julio Torres), but though amiable it’s rarely that funny.
The main plot is that the sixteen year old Judy (Jenny Slate) has a huge crush on Crispin but doesn’t pick up on the fact that he’s very, very clearly gay and that he and her brother Hamm have very obvious chemistry. Meanwhile when Uncle Brian comes to visit their father Beef (Nick Offerman) can’t understand why he’s left the small Alaskan town they live in to be in the city, and when he accompanies him to a business meeting it inevitably goes wrong because of his actions.
There’s still a slightly surreal element as Judy chats to her imaginary friend Alanis Morissette and tells her all about the school dance which celebrates a romance from the nineteenth century, which is a pretty fun tale, and Judy imagines a conversation with a long dead character later on in the episode. But otherwise it’s a fairly standard work, Brian and Beef initially slightly clash but come to understand their differences by the end, while Judy eventually discovers that Hamm and Crispin have feelings for each other and is initially upset, but eventually does the right thing by them too.
It’s a sweet natured creation and that aspect of the show is something I find very appealing, that it features gay characters who are treated with respect and never mocked is a definite plus and something that there hasn’t been enough of in other Fox comedies. But once again it suffers from a lack of laughs, there’s the odd cute moment and line of dialogue that made me smile but apart from that it’s likeable but never more than that.
These are still early days and despite my misgivings I hope it’s a series that manages to find its feet, and at least Fox have already renewed it for a second season so it will be given a chance to do so. These are characters who are definitely growing on me and as they’re slowly fleshed out you can see the potential in the series, it just needs to up its joke count and be a little bit funnier and then I’ll definitely look forward to each new episode.