Episode 1 of The Chair Season 1 begins with Dr Ji-Yoon Kim arriving at university as the new female chair. Big changes are afoot, and as the meeting begins, Ji-Yoon admits the grim truth that student enrollments are down. Pembroke University is in trouble. However, they’re intent on instilling pride back into their establishment.
As Ji-Yoon promises them not to let the department get gutted….she immediately receives a list from the dean of over-earners on the payroll. Three names are highlighted and Ji-Yoon’s job is to break the news that they’re being let go.
For now, Ji-Yoon settles on trying to merge lectures together to save on resources – and show how great some teachers are.
While all this is going on, another scene featuring a guy called Bill interweaves with this, saying goodbye to his daughter but going off the rails immediately afterwards. Apparently though he’s well-known among some students, with one even asking him for an autograph.
Bill eventually does rock up to school, late and hungover. While he gets to work teaching the kids, he accidentally plays a video of Sharon, his deceased ex. She’s naked and very much pregnant. After class, Bill heads in to Ji-Yoon’s office and the two playfully flirt together.
Well, it doesn’t take long for Bill to crash on Ji-Yoon’s sofa in her office and end up late to class again. Ji-Yoon implores him to get his act together and actually show up. Well, he does just that and begins his lecture with all the different students. Things are on the up…or are they?
As Bill’s students record his lecture, Bill ends up doing a Nazi salute while discussing fascism. Oh dear…
The Episode Review
Comedy is subjective of course but The Chair really struggles with its comedic focal point. There’s slapstick, satire, a little bit of misunderstanding and some wordplay – all of which feels like throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.
The whole idea of trying to fix a failing English department at a university is a good one, although it remains to be seen if the social issues will blend well with that or whether they’ll get in the way and serve as a distraction.
Either way, this show is going to be an acquired taste but the sporadic nature of the storytelling here is in desperate need of settling down for the episodes ahead.