Can we just start this column off by getting down on our knees, raising our fists to the skies and screaming in despair? The comedies this year make me want to slit people’s wrists (I don’t believe in self-harm, only harming those who put out drek I reluctantly watch because I believe in giving people chances). With the possible exception of Go On and The Mindy Project, none of the comedies this year have been worth a second look either. What happened to reinventing comedy, showrunners and producers? Where is the innovation, the new ideas, the fresh perspective? There isn’t a character who’s stood out so far because their brand of humor is not something I’ve seen before. There wasn’t even an ironic laugh to be found on the monkey doctor show, although i’m not entirely sure that was a comedy. Breaking down my revulsion at all things comedy this year.
Guys With Kids
Remember when I watched Baby Daddy? You probably don’t, but it’s a trauma that took me a while to get over. Summer’s trauma gave way to Fall’s shop of boring “Fathers taking care of babies”. How is this still a novel idea? HOW?!! Listen Jimmy Fallon wasn’t the best SNL had to offer, that guy is a horrible comedy actor who breaks character all the time, but he’s got a good heart and obviously some contract with the NBC to be allowed to produce comedy shows for them. But did the show have to be this un-original and un-funny? Did Tina Fey and Amy Poehler use up all the good ideas already? NBC already has a Stay-at-Home Dad comedy (Up All Night*), which is no longer a Stay-at-home Dad comedy because the dad went back to work (and not a comedy because it’s not really funny either), so our they trying to fill in the Stay-at-Home Dad demographic with another crappy attempt at it? I seriously wish they hadn’t though.
It’s terribly written, the jokes are stale and there’s a very clear attempt to paint the men as sympathetic by making the women unreasonable monsters (ok, this might not be entirely correct, but it’s a 70/30 split in favor of unreasonable monsters). Most of the guys have no charm or appeal with the exception of Zach Cregger, who manages to make some of the material work for him. It may also be because he and Jaime-Lynn Sigler weren’t stuck with the worst storyline of all (still too cheesy for primetime TV). My greatest disappointment came from the characterization of Erinn Hayes as every stereotype of a bitter divorced single mother. Plain awful, writer, just plain awful. Let us pray for it’s cancellation good people. (Update: more episodes of this horror have been ordered. There is no TV god)
The pilot may have been the worst I’ve seen this year and I saw Baby Daddy and that other one about the four men who did something (I forget). The gags though somewhat new, have no staying power beyond their first sighting, the characters were bland; and I never even felt a smile creep up on me while watching it. However it has been picked for a full season and possibly a second season too, so there’s no accounting for taste. (Reminder: Two and a Half Men has been on air for 10 years.)
The Mindy Project
This was the show I had been looking forward to the most this season. MIndy Kaling has established herself as a very credible comedy script writer, having penned some of my favorite The Office episodes. The pilot introduces us to Mindy the doctor, who may have figured out her life at work, but her personal life is still a mess much like her. The pilot had a self-awareness, a self-deprecation that bodes wells for the show, but the follow up episodes have struggled with balancing both sides of the show. Still I trust most of the showrunners. Kinks will be worked out.
Ben and Kate
To be honest I wasn’t too thrilled with the show, but it’s awkward (not quirky) brand of comedy has grown on me. Lucy Punch and Echo Kellum, the supporting cast have managed to outshine the leads, but doesn’t that happen with the best of shows? It’s warm, it’s awkwards, it’s got a fresh point of view on the single parent angle. It’s a good way to spend some time. This show is also on the bubble, which makes me hate everything Nielson.
Another year, another attempt by J.J. Abrams to torture human beings on both sides of the television screen. This time around he takes away ALL of the electricity from ALL of the people and so they are forced to live like the savages from before the Industrial Revolution. Only some people may have some idea why the electricity went out, and then Gus kills one of them and kidnaps his offspring. Also some people may have secret electricity. The show’s potential lay in putting people through the trauma of having to live without all the technology we are all so used to, but the show conveniently skips all of that. All we have are the flashbacks, but so far they don’t capture the panic and despair I’d like to see. The mythology of the loss of electricity will snowball everything that could’ve been interesting about the show. Sigh.
I know this show has already taken too much flak even before anyone had even seen a single minute. With the BBC’s Sherlock and the rabid fandom it created, it didn’t seem like there was room in people’s hearts for this show to simultaneously exist. Weirdly enough, I still haven’t found time to acquaint myself with the BBC series (yup, I’m an anomaly) so I watched this with no premeditated hate for the show (MP: I have and the two are completely different though I don’t much care for the show, but only because there are only so many days in a year and my attention span is a short one). It’s intriguing enough to warrant a second viewing. Lucy Lui doesn’t overplay her character and her chemistry with Jonny Lee Miller has a fresh vibe. Jonny Lee is a little too frantic for my tastes, but pilots tend to heighten most aspects to sell themselves better, so this may mellow out a bit. The procedural part of a show just isn’t that exciting for me anymore, it has in effect become increasingly absurd in the networks’ and showruners’ need to make the “procedure” of catching criminals as unbelievably showy in its intellect that it’s off-putting. I would recommend watching the show though.
Shazia is part bionic, part crazy (parts not mutually exclusive), and would be happy conversing solely in TV quotes, forever hopeful she’ll be one-upped in her obscure TV references. She blogs here and microblogs here.