Sorry, 'Charlie': Elba Can't Lift Mediocre Netflix Comedy

The only impressive thing about this new Netflix sitcom called “Turn Up Charlie” is that Idris Elba is in it.

This show demonstrates that Netflix possesses the clout and the cash to lure an international film star and sex symbol to produce and star in a run-of-the-mill sitcom.

It would likely never have seen the light of day on any network or streaming service if it had not been for Elba’s participation. Unfortunately, it will do nothing to enhance his resumé. 

In the show, Elba plays Charlie, a DJ in London whose career has seen better days. At some point in the now-distant past, he produced a record that became a summer sensation but today he is working weddings and other such private events for little money.



At one of these weddings, he reunites with a boyhood friend who has become a movie star. After a series of charmless plot turns in the series’ premiere, this star and his wife hire Charlie to serve as nanny and minder to their preteen daughter.

The daughter is a willful, spoiled brat whose lines and behaviors must have been written with guidance from the Sitcom Cliché Stylebook (a book that I just made up). The character is one we have seen a thousand times before, and this child is no more attractive here than in all those other instances.

Much is wrong with this picture. For openers, Elba is 46 years old -- pushing 50. He is too old to be playing an under-employed wedding DJ or “manny” to a movie star's kid. In scenarios of this type (yes, we have seen this before), the lead character is usually much younger, which makes more sense.

Charlie does not like it when his employer/best friend calls him a “manny,” which is understandable because all such words that are contrived using the word “man” are almost always bad. “Man-scaping,” “man-spreading,” “man cave,” “man-splaining,” “man-bun” -- you get the picture. Beware of words like these.

Perhaps the worst characteristic of this show is the feeling of sheer boredom it induces. This show manages somehow to turn a mere 30 minutes into something approximating an eternity.

Sometimes while watching new TV shows, I am surprised to learn when episodes end that I wish they were not over. “Turn Up Charlie” had the opposite effect. When Episode One came to an end, I felt relieved. To be fair, for the sake of this review, I did try to get through Episode Two, in which Charlie's problems with the brat really started to get going, but I did not have the fortitude. Sorry, Charlie.

“Turn Up Charlie” starts streaming Friday (March 15) on Netflix.

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