The Chair centres around Sandra Oh as Ji-Yoon Kim, becoming the first woman of colour as Chairperson at Pembroke University.
The role is taken in turns, and she’s just taken over from the most popular – albeit lackadaisical – professor on campus, Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass), since he barely turns up to his own lectures. However, this is a time where the English department is facing budget cuts, and amongst her colleagues, she’s working with a very rag-tag bunch of fusty old (mostly) men.
She’s tasked with sacking those with the highest salaries and lowest number of students per course because their lecture content is outdated and tedious.
Amongst a few of the situations going on in this series, I like how Ji-Yoon is a ‘welcoming gift’ to her new job by the Dean, Paul Larson (David Morse), of a desk nameplate which states: “Fucker in Charge”; plus Bill is in an early scene trying to find his car at the airport by driving round in a golf cart to search more quickly, and pressing the key fob as he goes; whilst later attracting the attention from student Dafna (Ella Rubin), who bakes him a pie.
The second episode features a Faculty party where not everyone obviously likes the lead because some of them may soon no longer have a job, and for reasons that’ll become clear early on, the students mistakenly think that Bill sides with the Third Reich. Plus, the penultimate episode also features David Duchovny, who’s could be due for a prestigious award at Pembroke – the Distinguished Lectureship, and if so, will be presenting a work of his which could see him get his PhD.
While it makes a nice change to have a series where each episode lasts around 30 minutes, rather than trundling on for an hour, this does feel like we’re mostly focusing on Bill and Ji-Yoon’s stories only, and just skimming over those of anyone else. Most of those cast members do still make their position felt, but more depth should’ve gone into the characterisation of others.
As such, The Chair isn’t esential viewing, but it is engaging enough for its brief running time, and I’ll continue with it.
The Chair is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix from Friday August 20th.
Series Score: 6.5/10
Running time: 30 mins per episode
Release date: August 20th 2021
Director: Daniel Gray Longino
Producers: Hameed Shaukat, Tyler Romary
Creators/writers: Amanda Peet, Annie Wyman
Music: Stephanie Economou
Ji-Yoon Kim: Sandra Oh
Bill Dobson: Jay Duplass
Yazmine McKay: Nana Mensah
Elliot Rentz: Bob Balaban
Joan Hambling: Holland Taylor
Dean Paul Larson: David Morse
Dafna: Ella Rubin
Lila: Mallory Low
Capri: Jordan Tyson
Himself: David Duchovny
Laurie: Marcia Debonis
Ronny: Cliff Chamberlain
Mrs. Sue Wittenden: Cynthia Mace
Ju-Hee: Everly Carganilla
Habi: Ji-yong Lee
Kareem: Darius Fraser
Abdul: Abdul Alvi
Dustin: Vinnie Costanza
Chrissy: Ameris Carter
Shay: Shay Guthrie
A’Leighsha: A’Leighsha Gibson
Casey: Charlotte Finegold
Tech: Ben Kass
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.