It’s that time of the year again!
The current TV season is coming to a close and as the shows we know and love wrap it up for another year, some of them never to be seen again, a jostling crop of hopefuls is waiting in the wings ready to take their place.
The shows were revealed recently during what is known as the “Upfronts” where all five of the networks reveal all their new shows, and programming schedules for the new season, to advertisers and the media.
As always, there’s a fairly healthy crop of sitcoms in the pack, and so it made sense to start my review of what’s on offer come September with five of the shows that I think have enough appeal to be worth your time checking out when they premiere.
So grab your favourite TV snacks, tape your sides with Duct tape so that they won’t explode from all the laughing and enjoy five very promising sitcoms that deserve your viewing loving …
THE CRAZY ONES (CBS)
Academy Award winner Robin Williams returns to series television in THE CRAZY ONES, a single-camera workplace comedy about a larger-than-life advertising genius whose unorthodox methods and unpredictable behavior would get him fired…if he weren’t the boss. (source: CBS YouTube channel)
I have adored Robin Williams ever since I saw him in his breakthrough role on Mork and Mindy.
It was immediately obvious to anyone who watched the show just how gifted a comic he was.
He managed to elevate what was in most respects a reasonably run-of-the-mill sitcom with his spontaneous wit, rapid fire delivery and facial expressions that four seasons, longer than you might have expected it to survive.
And now he has returned to his roots in Crazy Ones, with Sara Michelle Gellar playing the straight-laced Type A daughter to his manic, one-of-a-kind advertising executive who refuses to play by the rules.
It looks promising, largely thanks to the Odd Couple-riffing that happens between Williams and Gellar and the fact that the show’s producers have wisely decided to surround the comedy legend with other actors capable of keeping up with him.
That should ensure that while he will obviously be the centre of the show that he doesn’t swamp everyone else and turn what could be a clever, engaging ensemble into a season-long stand up routine. (Not that that would be a bad thing but it would kind of go against the point of having a full show in the first place.)
If this is what crazy looks like, then strap me into a strait jacket. I’m in!
MOM is a comedy from executive producer Chuck Lorre starring Anna Faris as a newly sober single mom raising two children in a world full of temptations and pitfalls, and multiple Emmy Award winner Allison Janney as her critical, estranged mother. (source: CBS YouTube channel)
Speaking of exceptionally talented actors elevating a relatively standard premise, Mom owes a great deal to the combined talents of Anna Faris and Allison Janney.
Making use of one of the oldest sitcom premises in the book – the prodigal child starting afresh – Mom will rise or fall I suspect on the talents of these two remarkable women.
Helping it along, of course, will be the fact that it is coming from the house of Chuck Lorre, a man who has a proven track record for delivering sitcoms that attract eyeballs and keep them there for seasons at a time.
I am hoping that the show’s writer’s will given Faris and Janney all the clever, witty lines in the world.
Certainly their characters – Faris’s recovering alcoholic single mother and Janney’s utterly unconventional overly-critical recovering alcoholic mother and the complicated dysfunctional relationship that binds them – are ripe for all manner of witty repartee as are the plethora of fantastically dysfunctional characters in their orbit.
Played properly, Mom has every chance of developing into one of those character-driven, laugh-out-loud comedies that Lorre has a knack for bringing to the screen.
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (Fox)
Detective JAKE PERALTA (Samberg) is a good enough cop that he’s never had to work that hard or follow the rules too closely. Perhaps because he has the best arrest record among his colleagues, he’s been enabled – if not indulged – throughout his entire career. That is, until the precinct gets a new commanding officer, Captain RAY HOLT (Braugher), who reminds this hotshot cop to respect the badge. (source: aceshowbiz.com)
OK yes it’s a goofball premise that could easily sink under the weight of cheap and easy jokes.
That is a real fear, not completely allayed by a trailer that, while funny, trades on frat boy humour a little bit too much.
However the fact that it stars Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live) as the comic centre of the precinct, and Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Street) as his newly-installed straight-man captain, and is written and produced by Emmy Award-winning Dan Goor and Michael Schur of Parks and Recreation fame gives me great hope that the show has the goods for comic longevity.
Certainly the location of what is essentially a workplace comedy gives the show all sorts of scope for a revolving cast of oddball characters, and the cast of close, if dysfunctional police officers and detectives who spend as much time together drinking beer and singing karaoke as they do solving crime, sometimes rather badly, at work, promises that Brooklyn Nine-Nine should never be short of material.
So despite a rather hit-and-miss trailer, that is nonetheless replete with some fine jokes and spot-on comic acting, I have high hopes for this sitcom, if only because it reminds me just little, just a little, of Leslie Neilsen’s Police Squad!
And that can’t be a bad thing.
Michael J. Fox is back!
Well technically he never really went away, with much-admired guest starring roles on Rescue Me (2009) and The Good Wife (2012-13) the latest in a long line of acting credits.
But he’s back in his very own sitcom, his natural home (Family Ties, Spin City) and while the premise may not be overly inspired, what the show’s producers plan to do with it looks very much that way.
For one thing, the show gleefully tackles Michael J Fox’s Parkinsons disease head on, with what would be regarded as highly politically incorrect jokes about the condition except for the fact (a) they are ridiculously funny and (b) Michael J. Fox wasn’t the main star all too ready to poke fun at and be brutally honest (as his biography shows only too well) about what ails him.
It’s this very honesty, and Michael’s deadpan delivery that will set this sitcom apart, the only great variable being whether the writing will be strong enough to match the hilarious premise.
I certainly hope so because I want this talented actor to be on my TV screen again for as long as humanly possible.
US AND THEM (Fox)
Based on an award-winning BBC series and starring Emmy Award nominee Jason Ritter (Parenthood) and Alexis Bledel (Mad Men, Gilmore Girls), US & THEM is a new single-camera ensemble comedy about a young couple, whose path to happily-ever-after is complicated by the screwed-up circus of people closest to them. (source: Fox Youtube.com channel)
This sitcom has the lot.
Witty dialogue, a more than healthy pedigree – it is based on the much-awarded and loved BBC series Gavin and Stacey – palpable, charming chemistry between the leads Jason Ritter (Gavin) and Alexis Bledel (Stacey), and a coterie of utterly idiosyncratic friends and family, including the gifted Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle, Whitney) as Gavin’s mother Pam, armed with the sort of zingy one-liners that will have pausing your PVR over and over till it goes up in smoke.
Produced by Sony Pictures Television and BBC Worldwide Productions, Us & Them, a single-camera comedy, revolves around the idea that no man, or woman, is an island, and that whiel love is a grand and wonderful thing, it is often held hostage to the often dysfunctional tribes that each party brings with them.
If a budding relationship can survive all the associated baggage, mayhem and chaos, then it can pretty much survive anything.
And have us laughing right along with it I would wager.