Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Son of a Critch: Reach for the Top

As a proud geek, Mark Critch has a passion for Star Trek and trivia. He is also interested in two girls who actually talk to him. They all collide when he and his sort-of-ex Fox compete against his current flirt-more-than-girlfriend on a TV quiz show in “Reach for the Top,” the next episode of Son of a Critch, which airs tomorrow on CW.

Critch and Fox are in a just-friends phase, which is still a real step up from when she used to bully him. Somehow, he convinced her to be a member of his trivia team when they represent St. Bridget’s on
Reach for the Top, a TV quiz show for kids. Of course, Critch is a know-it-all, but his pseudo-girlfriend Cara, who captains the team from their Protestant rivals is better at handling pressure. She might also have a talent for mind-games.

As Critch crumbles under the studio lights, he imagines what Kirk would do, in a fantasy sequence set on the Enterprise bridge, with him in the captain’s conn. It looks quite true to the original
Trek, as Paramount required, when they granted their permission. Conveniently, the production designer for this episode, Mark Steel, has worked as the art or production designer on six Star Trek: Discovery installments.

Frankly, some fans will be disappointed the fantasy segment wraps up so quickly, because of Steel’s eye for authenticity. Young Mark Critch also definitely has an affinity for Shatner-esque histrionics. Captain Benjamin Sisko is a strong runner-up, but in
Star Trek, “Captain” means “Kirk” first and foremost.

Benjamin Evan Ainsworth hams it up appropriately in his big Shatner moment, but the heart of the series remains his chemistry with Sophia Powers as Fox. Honestly, Powers deserves much more credit outside of Canada, because, week after week, she is probably the best sitcom performer on television. On the other hand, the show tends to drag a little when the kids are not on-screen. That is especially true of this episode’s secondary plotline.

It is always easy to relate to
Son of a Critch. That will be especially true for this episode, for Trek fans and College Bowl veterans. Recommended for coming-of-age sitcom fans, “Reach for the Top” airs tomorrow (2/1) on CW.