One Day at a Time: Season 4 Episode 1 Review

"Checking Boxes" or we live in a new box?  That is the question for the One Day at a Time revival after it rotated from Netflix to broadcast cable sensation Pop TV.

It has been over a year since Netflix released season 3 of ODAAT, and around the same time since they shamefully axed the beloved and energetic series.  Continuing the energy and bite the series possessed, they managed to bitchslap their former platform inside 20 seconds by stating "It's like there's nothing good on Netflix anymore."  After digesting that angst, the series throttled into 4th gear directly into controversy and handled the census vs. a Latino household.  Fittingly, Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) filled the cameo as a sensible data checker who encounters the brunt of the cast.

First offenses are Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado), refusing to answer the door as census and Latinex do not mix in her mindset.  A whirl of overwhelming energy continues as the ensemble of energy manages to offend the opposition.  The victims are less likely as Romano and Stephen Tobolowsky's Dr. Leslie Berkowitz endure belittlement and confusion to the awkwardest of stances.  Where they manage to level the playing field in this overdone (yet appropriate opening) is when the census (victim) mentions in ten years he will return when it is president Kardashian.  The entire room gags at the thought, flicking over to the opening card.  Speaking of the opening card, it squished enough flavor of the former, flavorful opening title and won't offend Ms. Gloria Estefan chopping her 50 second masterpiece to three seconds as fans are ablaze over the title song being missing from the revival.

Where the energy levels to promising territory is the remains of the episode, where it resembled the breezy, energetic pace of a prior ODAAT episode.  Lydia (Rita Moreno) passive aggressively places noise in her daughter's head about needing a man.  Elena (Isabella Gomez) contemplates a life without Syd (Sheridan Pierce).  And Alex (Marcel Ruiz) remains the irritated side fiddle to the tales.  Checking Boxes glamorized the female front yet sidelined the minority male cast.  Schneider (Todd Grinnell) was reduced to the paternal, nonchalant advisory role in the episodes' remains, only enjoying a punch as his girlfriend Avery was coming into the building.

ODAAT's return episode held a common strength and weakness as the series is doing too much at once.  It attempted social relevance, flair, character development, controversy, ageism and everything but the kitchen sink in one episode.  And is this a negative factor for a series which survived a mid-platform jump?  The series still possesses energy, which it will need to navigate the cable jungles vs the streaming pleasure dome. 

The ensemble still crackles and possesses the same chemistry.  Character development continues for the female front, whilst the males need a little more spice and love.  Alex (Ruiz) merely stitched the scenes together in the current episode, and perhaps it would fit if he'd pick up his vape pen and return to exciting teenage storylines.  Leslie existed in the opening as the butt of the ladies' rejections, while Schneider also languished as the bookend of the episode.  Save for these nuances, Season 4's premiere crackled and perhaps may ignite enough ash to develop a Nielsen base to survive for future episodes.

Grade: B+

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