• Publication date: January 12, 2012

Improvised Insanity 10 Items or Less: A Sitcom & Supermarket Like No Other

10 ITEMS OR LESS

10 ITEMS OR LESS

A virtually unscripted comedy that follows a rookie supermarket manager and his group of flunky employees throughout their daily misadventures

Leslie Pool's (John Lehr) father always considered his son a loser, and an incompetent businessman despite being determined to succeed.  To prove dad wrong, Leslie left small town Ohio for New York City with limited success.  When his father passed away, Leslie returned to Ohio and inherited his dad's grocery store: Greens & Grains.  Dad originally intended to sell the struggling store to its competitor next door, a Wal-Mart clone named Super Value Mart, who planned to demolish the store to create extra parking space.  Leslie was tempted to accept their generous offer, but instead seized the chance to make his father proud from beyond the grave, and assumed management of the supermarket himself.

That angered Super Value Mart's manager, Amy Anderson (Jennifer Elise Cox) who is resolved to put Greens & Grains out of business.  The tension between Amy and Leslie predates their foray into retail however, and began years ago in high school.  Amy was the school's most popular girl and its prom queen, who Leslie dreamed of dating.  Even though years have passed since then, he still has feelings for Amy; similarly, she continues to despise Leslie. 

Amy and her admirer clash numerous times as the series progresses, once during a 'battle of the baggers' where both stores compete to determine who bags groceries the fastest; in another episode she schemes to have one of Greens & Grains' employees deported, and almost succeeds.  A hilarious incident in season two both humiliates Amy and forces her to work alongside Leslie for the foreseeable future.

Aside from having no experience running a grocery store, Leslie must also manage his motley crew of employees, who inherited his father's disdain for him and initially prey upon his weaknesses.  They are not wicked people though, and they eventually befriend their new manager.  Todd (Chris Payne Gilbert) is one of the store's quirky workers, a mentally challenged butcher who concocts ideas such as an in store 'slaughtered-to-order' restaurant and 'beef sushi.'  Naturally, some of his practices eventually result in a USDA investigation.

Other characters include Richard (Christopher Liam Moore), a cashier obsessed with figure skating and Yolanda Nelson (Roberta Valderrama), a produce worker who uses fruits as weapons and once dated Leslie.  Buck (Greg Davis Jr.) is one of the store's baggers who attends night school and aspires to become a doctor.

What separates 10 Items or Less from other comedies is its use of improvised acting.  Cast members do not have a traditional script, but merely outlines for each scene.  Crew members record up to 30 hours of material for each episode, with the best takes edited down to 30 minutes.   The program's blue collar characters and more relaxed working environment are what separate it from other improvised shows such as The Office. 

Duration: 30 minutes

Starring:

  • John Lehr
  • Bob Clendenin
  • Jennifer Elise Cox
  • Greg Davis Jr.
  • Chris Payne Gilbert
  • Kirsten Gronfield
  • Christopher Liam Moore
  • Roberta Valderrama

Created By: Nancy Hower, John Lehr

Rating: TV-14