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Review Roundup: Critics Weigh in on NBC's RISE

Review Roundup: Critics Weigh in on NBC's RISE

Tomorrow night NBC will premiere its newest drama, Rise, airing Tuesday, March 13th at 10pm ET/PT following the season finale of "This Is Us," and debuts in its regular time period on Tuesday, March 20th at 9pm ET/PT on NBC.

From Jason Katims, executive producer and showrunner of "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood," and "Hamilton" producerJeffrey Seller comes a heartening new drama about finding inspiration in UNEXPECTED places. When dedicated teacher Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) sheds his own self-doubt and takes over the school's lackluster theater department, he galvanizes not only the faculty and students but the entire working-class town.

Click here for an interview with the show's stars, Josh Radnor and Rosie Perez.

As we await the premiere, let's see what the critics had to say...

Maureen Ryan, Variety: As TV has aggressively expanded its scripted output, it's begun to lean hard on that entertainment-industry standby: "Appealing kids put on a show." "Rise," a moderately winning drama that follows those familiar contours, will instantly draw comparisons to "Glee," though it eschews that program's slick sheen and barbed sarcasm. It also contains parallels to everything from "Lady Bird" to the retro Netflix comedy "Everything Sucks!," in which a motley assortment of gawky teens make a sci-fi movie with a few dollars and a whole lot of determination.

Merrill Barr, Forbes: This isn't the hyper-real look at life we got from Friday Night Lights and Parenthood. RISE is something much bigger and grander than that... which makes sense given its subject matter. Like theater, the show goes bold right out of the gate. RISE is a soap opera as much as it is a prestige drama that will be a great follow-up to This is Us. So don't let the soap-opera fact deter you from giving it a shot. With luck, NBC could very well have a fresh hit on their hands, especially when no other network (cable and streaming included) is producing shows like this anymore.

Dave Nemetz, TV Line: Katims' delicate, humane touch as a showrunner holds it all together, though. (His shows were making us sob our eyes out long before THIS IS US came along.) Rise's working-class setting feels lived-in and textured; we can sense the longstanding feuds and friendships that bind the residents of this town. Yes, RISE threatens to trip over its own earnestness at times, but its heart is in the right place, and the writing is admirably patient. It presents us with characters who seem at first like simple stereotypes - the macho football coach; the bitchy mean girl; the town slut - and then digs deeper to find the complicated humanity underneath.

James Poniewozik, NY Times: "Rise," starting Tuesday on NBC, is a natural successor, on paper. It comes from Jason Katims, the "Friday Night Lights" showrunner. It's set in fictional Stanton, Pa., the kind of Rust Belt town, a dead steel mill haunting its outskirts, that has starred in a billion "Let's check in on the Trump voter" features. And its subject - the uproar over a high school musical production - seems an ideal vehicle to test the fissures of our own decade. Generational war, culture war, hormonal teenagers discovering their passions (artistic and otherwise): Bring it on, "Friday Night Footlights"! I think "Rise" wants to be that kind of show. But its first 10-episode season, starting Tuesday, is proof that wanting alone does not make a thing so.

Daniel Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter: Using the Winter Olympics as a platform, NBC has been aggressively pitching its new musical drama RISE as the LOVE CHILD of Friday Night Lights and Glee. There's some truth in that advertising, but RISE is one of those stubborn shows that takes its sweet time refining its voice. The network made all 10 first season episodes available to critics, and by the end, RISE felt very close to the show it aspires to be. Getting there, however, requires weathering at least half a season of choppy pacing, unconvincing character introductions and an ostensible hero who is far more unlikable than the show initially believes.

Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

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