Lil Rel Howery plays Bobby Carmichael, Jerrod Carmichael plays himself Jerrod Carmichael, Loretta Devine is mother Cynthia Carmichael and Amber Stevens West plays Jerrod's girlfriend Maxine in "The Carmichael Show," which begins its second season in earnest Sunday night on NBC.

Lil Rel Howery plays Bobby Carmichael, Jerrod Carmichael plays himself Jerrod Carmichael, Loretta Devine is mother Cynthia Carmichael and Amber Stevens West plays Jerrod's girlfriend Maxine in "The Carmichael Show," which begins its second season in earnest Sunday night on NBC.

Chris Haston/NBC

The Carmichael Show seems to have been retooled since its six-episode run last year and creator-star-comedian Jerrod Carmichael, whose family this show is based on, still has a lot to say.

The first of tonight's episodes, "Fallen Heroes," deals head-on with everyone's feelings amid a wider discussion about Bill Cosby after Jerrod buys tickets to the comedian's show and offers them to his parents after his girlfriend demurs. 

"The ironic part is that you would have to knock me unconscious to get me to go see Bill Cosby," says Maxine. 

Jerrod: "So I just want to confirm ... That's a no, right? I wouldn't want to take you without your consent." 

Ouch. 

Houston's Loretta Devine (Boston Public) and David Alan Grier (The Wiz Live!), who play his parents Cynthia and Joe, rode away with the show last time out with their comedic chops. And they're still at it, even when they're making serious points and especially when they're whiplash fast with a comeback or a quip.

Case in point: Cynthia gives all the points of view just by saying Bill Cosby's name three times in rapid succession. I keep thinking the focus is supposed to be on Jerrod, but the animated Devine creates a natural spotlight even though some of her antics are too much like a long windup for Carmichael's next lines. And those can seem too much like a stand-up routine, making Carmichael seem as if he's running in place while the others are in a full-on sprint.

But it's all in the delivery, and no one can post up like Devine and Grier. (Or older brother Bobby's ex-wife Nekeisha, played by Tiffany Hadish, for that matter.) And it's still LOL funny, never descending into preaching, even as they take on plenty of hot-button issues and and "must-see TV."

"The Funeral" follows at 8:30; Joe's father dies and another debate about whether one should be truthful at funerals kicks off.

The show has a way of looking at a hot topic from every angle through its characters. It's a hard row to hoe, but this cast is up to the task. So far.

The Carmichael Show had a special sneak peek on Wednesday, but it moves to its regular slot on Sundays tonight at 8.

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