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 I am continuing my review of what’s on offer come September – the first five were reviewed last week – with five more 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 …
SUPER FUN NIGHT (ABC)
Junior attorney Kimmie Boubier (Rebel Wilson) and her two best friends Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira) and Marika (Lauren Ash) have had a standing date every Friday night for the last 13 years. They even have a motto for what they call “Friday Night Fun Night”: “Always together! Always Inside!” However, Kimmie’s recent promotion throws a monkey wrench into the tradition. Not only is she now working with her idol, “Lady Lawyer of the Year” Felicity Vanderstone (Kelen Coleman), but she meets a dashingly handsome British attorney, Richard Lovell (Kevin Bishop), who invites her to his party at a trendy club. Determined to spend time with Richard and heed Felicity’s advice to network, Kimmie sets out to convince her friends to take Super Fun Night on the road. (source: sitcomsonline.com)
I will be honest.
I am one of those people who didn’t find Bridesmaids the funniest movie of my entire life.
I know I was supposed to, trust me I do, but try as I might, and my lord I am a fan of Kristen Wiig, I only found it mildly amusing. (On a totally unrelated note, I also wasn’t particularly enthralled by The Lion King but let’s leave that for another time shall we?)
Despite that monumental personal failing though I did find, and have always found starting with her days on Australian TV, Rebel Wilson to be one of the funniest comedians ever I watched in action.
And the new rising queen of comedy in the US doesn’t disappoint for a second bringing every last gram of her spot on comic timing, girl next door goofiness and endearing awkwardness to Super Fun Night, elevating a fairly standard sitcom format to comic gold.
This is another sitcom where the main star will be the lynchpin that holds it all together.
That’s not simply because Rebel Wilson is the writer and co-executive producer of the show who can therefore give herself all the best lines, should she so choose (and I am sure being the t down to earth gal she is, she won’t do anything of the sort).
No, it’s largely due to the fact that the premise underpinning the show is reasonably run-of-the-mill – nerdy BFFs decide to leave the safety of their well-defined Friday night cocoon for the bright lights, big city world of the “cool kids” to predictably hilarious results – and will rely on her considerable comedy talents, as well as those of the talented ensemble cast, to lift it well above the pack.
One bar. One night. Ten single people. Welcome to Union, a high-end bar in Manhattan’s trendy meat-packing district. Recently dumped by his fiancée, Tom (Blake Lee) hasn’t been out on the town in a decade. His best friends, handsome, confident Cal (Craig Frank) and fast-talking Bruce (Andrew Santino), are throwing Tom back into the dating pool whether he likes it or not. Tom’s first encounter is with Maya (Ginger Gonzaga), an attorney who’s as beautiful as she is brutal; before long, Tom is in tears. After that, it only gets worse. Rounding out Union’s chic crowd is Maya’s engaged-for-now friend, Liv (Kate Simses); aggressive single mom Jessica (Alexis Carra); her younger, naive sister, Janey (Sarah Bolger); bubbly cocktail waitress Kacey (Vanessa Lengies); dark, mysterious bartender Dominic (Adan Canto); and failed internet entrepreneur Ron (Adam Campbell), who’s having the worst night of his life. (source: blog.sitcomsonline.com)
Now this is a clever 24-esque concept.
Watch the lives of 10 single people, some of whom know each other, intersect over the course of a single night in one bar.
It will either be a spectacularly funny, emotionally affecting (let’s face it, comedy without any heart and soul is pretty hollow unappealing stuff) show, or a muddled, narratively-truncated disaster.
Given my love of shows that push the envelope as much as possible, I am quietly confident it can be the former.
It has a lot going for it.
For a start, the writers of The Hangover, which, its ever diminishing in quality sequels aside, was a clever, well-written movie brought to life by an ensemble of talented actors, are behind the show.
Add to that the presence of a sweet, recently and coldly dumped everyday guy protagonist, played with just the right touch by Blake Lee (Parks and Recreation) who looks like he’s going to bring just the right sense of pathos to the role.
And a well thought out cast of admittedly stock in trade characters, all armed with fearsomely good one-liners and the sort of witty, withering observations on life we all think of days after the situation we could have used them in.
It all promises a good mix of interesting story telling all contained in the heady world of one night in one very busy bar, the perfect microcosm of life under the microscope.
Hopefully a very funny microscope.
THE MILLERS (CBS)
The Millers stars Will Arnett as Nathan Miller, a recently divorced local roving news reporter looking forward to living the singles’ life until his parents’ marital problems unexpectedly derail his plans. After Nathan finally breaks the news of his divorce to his parents, Carol (Emmy Award winner Margo Martindale) and Tom (Emmy Award winner Beau Bridges), his father is inspired to follow suit and stuns the family when he leaves his wife of 43 years. Already in shock, Jack is even more aghast when his meddlesome mom decides to move in with him. Meanwhile, his absent-minded dad imposes upon Nathan’s sister, Debbie, her husband Adam and their daughter Mykayla (Eve Moon). Nathan’s best friend and news cameraman, Ray (JB Smoove), was excited to be Nathan’s wingman in the dating scene, but Carol manages to even cramp his style. Now, as Nathan and his sister settle in with their truly impossible parents, they both wonder just how long the aggravating adjustment period is going to last. (source: blog.sitcomsonline.com)
This is one of those shows I fell in love with almost immediately.
How could you not?
From the man who gave us the inspired comedies My Name is Earl and Raising Hope, Greg Garcia comes a sitcom starring the inestimable Will Arnett (Arrested Development), and the superb talents of Beau Bridges and the damn near adorable Margo Martindale, fresh from her Emmy Award-winning role as Mags Bennett in Justified.
If it’s not enough to have all that production and acting talent onboard, the writing is fast, zingy and clever.
Yes there are a few obvious lines and a small over-reliance on cheap fart jokes, but overall the dialogue is crisp and clever and I found myself laughing more than once which doesn’t always happen with the sitcoms I watch now.
The key, as with any sitcom really, is to make sure these very talented actors are given the right kind of material to deal with.
I have every confidence that will happen since Greg Garcia is no slouch when it comes to witty, intelligent sitcoms that derive their laughs primarily from the interactions between characters and not from obvious, cheesy set ups that make you wince.
If the writing holds up, then the cast will have absolutely no trouble holding up their end of the bargain.
And given the limitless possibilities of a well made family-based sitcom, there could be many years of holding ahead of everyone involved.
* And now sitcoms that kind of appeal and kind of leave me cold. However they both fell on the more positive side of the scale so I figured they at least deserved a mention
SURVIVING JACK (Fox)
Surviving Jack is a new single-camera ensemble comedy based on best-selling author Justin Halpern’s semi-autobiographical book, I Suck at Girls. Set in 1990s Southern California, Emmy Award nominee Christopher Meloni stars as a man becoming a dad, as his son is becoming a man, in a time before “coming of age” was something you could Google. (source: aceshowbiz.com)
This could be very funny.
But it could also be wilfully uneven.
It is pretty much a line ball.
In the pro corner, is Christopher Meloni playing the anti-Mr Brady, dispensing life advice, if you can call that with little sense of the emotional impact it will have on those receiving it – his kids.
Of course for him to be even remotely appealing as a character over the longterm that will have to change somewhat but I hope they don’t soften him up too much because his harsh, crudely-articulated advice is comedy gold for the most part.
The other factor giving me some cause for hope is the fact that it’s being produced by Bill Lawrence, creator of some of my favourite all time sitcoms such as Scrubs and Cougar Town. If anyone can make this fly, it will be him.
I am not entirely certain the other characters in the sitcom – wife Joanne (played by Alex Kapp Horner), daughter Rachel (Claudia Lee) and son Frankie (Connor Buckley) – have been drawn as strongly or given the necessary lines to compete with the dominating presence of dad Jack but there’s enough promise in their characters to give me hope that they catch up and this series will fire on all cylinders.
SEAN SAVES THE WORLD (NBC)
Sean (Sean P. Hayes, Will & Grace) is a divorced gay dad who juggles a lot – his successful but demanding career, offbeat employees, pushy mom Lorna (Linda Lavin, Alice) and weekends with his teenage daughter, Ellie (Sami Isler). So when she moves in full-time, it’s a whole new world. Never one to do anything halfway, Sean’s intent on being the best dad ever, so he loads up on parenting how-to books and plans Pinterest-worthy family dinners. But it seems his company’s new owner has decided Sean and his team should work longer hours, putting a damper on his homemaking plans and throwing a kink in Sean’s perfectly constructed work/life balance. Ellie sees this development as a plus. She loves her dad, but he’s clearly going overboard. From keeping his boss happy, employees motivated and enduring his mother’s tactless “advice” to raising a smart, grounded and healthy kid, it’s going to be a growing experience, to say the least. But if anyone can handle it all, it’s Sean. (source: blog.sitcomsonline.com)
Perhaps it’s the Will and Grace fan in me.
Perhaps I am a fan of sitcoms that feature earnest if hapless dads in their L plates (likely not).
Or maybe it’s just that I appreciate characters wittily snarking at each other.
It’s hard to tell just why I like this show, despite it’s sometimes clunky delivery and rather hackneyed premise.
But I do like it enough to include it in this post.
It may not be the most innovative sitcom to ever grace the screen but with Sean Hayes starring in the title role and the amazingly talented Linda Lavin, who made Alice such a memorable show way back when, as his wise cracking, opinionated mother, this has some grunt.
The trick will be to make sure the sass-o-meter doesn’t go into the critical zone, a real danger when you have some firecracker characters all competing for air time, and a turnoff to those of us who tire of constantly bickering people in our favourite shows – hard hitting dramas aside of course – but I am guessing that the production team which includes sitcom veteran James Burrows (Friends, The Big Bang Theory) and writer Victor Fresco (Go On, Mad About You) will be well and truly wise to that particular pitfall and should hopefully avoid it.
If they do, and they can get the chemistry firing between the various parties, Sean Saves the World has a real chance of developing into the sort of sitcom people will want to keep watching.
* So what I have missed that you think shows real potential? Where am I way off base in your opinion?