Here they are, the second pack of mid-season shows offered up by network TV (and just as much or more untimely than the last bunch.) This pack is arguably not as good as the first group—about which, looking back, I may have been generous/exaggerated their merit. So I’m gonna keep it as short and sweet as possible here, for all our sakes.
Mondays, 9:30/8:30c on ABC
It took all kinds of television survival skills to make it through this, the longest 20 minutes of television in the last month. Who on earth thought what America needs is another life-in-the-suburbs sitcom with a laugh track? With Bob Saget, no less. As a grumpy suburban husband (Til’ Death, anyone?) We all realize he’s still trying to shake the good-guy pigeonhole of Full House, but we just don’t wanna be witness to it. And with a host of forgettable actors you recognize, but you can’t remember their names because they’ve just been on gazillions of other failed shows, it’s doubtful this show will get any better, or any more bearable. So if you’re masochistic like that, you can watch all the mind-numbing episodes here.
Pass: It might get cancelled.
Fail: It might not get cancelled because there’s nothing America likes more (especially down-in-the-dumps, economically-challenged America) than a mildly funny half-hour sitcom to cheer them up and make them forget their troubles—except the “troubles” of a cushy life in the suburbs, of course.
Wednesdays, 10/9c on ABC
Everybody and their dog desperately wants to produce a successful cop show. And for every decent attempt, there are a gazillion bad ones. I’m convinced there’s some machine somewhere, cranking out variations on the law enforcement theme, in a desperate attempt to create a hit. And with the minimum of 3-4 of these type of shows that appear every premiere period, I’d say the machine is broken. The Unusuals, hoping to successfully mix things up, aims to highlight the—wait for it—unusual side of the NYPD, but ends up being no different than the rest. There are good cops, and bad cops, and quirky cops, and quirky/out-of-the-ordinary cases (which seem to be required every third episode of any cop drama anyway). I find it hard to see anything really original or promising with this one. Check it out here.
Pass: An eclectic cast, including Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia), Harold Perrineau (Lost), and Adam Goldberg (crazy roommate on Friends, along with a hundred other things).
Fail: Not that unusual, not that interesting, and not that funny. And enough with the random police scanner voiceovers—not amusing in the slightest.
Parks and Recreation
Thursdays, 8:30/7:30c on NBC
A new comedy from the creators of The Office—that beautiful gift from heaven we’ve all grown to know and love. And if you’ve watched any of the first few episodes of P&R, you know that it’s that same kind of humor, and a similar format, with different faces (except for Rashida Jones, of course. She’s the same face). Many have been quick to write it off as an Office clone, and that it will be necessary for it to come into its own down the line. This may be true—can you say Leslie Knope = Michael Scott?—but you can’t deny, it’s still funny, copycat or no. And I’m probably biased, because of my raging girl-crush on Amy Poehler, but what can I say, the woman is genius. So thumbs up to this one, for more originality than anything else in this group, and enough of the same-ol’ to keep us comfortable and laughing. Get your fix here, and make it snappy, because NBC can sometimes be stingy buggers with their online content.
Pass: Two words – Amy Poehler. Ok, eight more words – from the people who brought you the Office.
Fail: It will eventually need to break away from the shadow of The Office.
Southland (or SouthLAnd, if you prefer…get it?)
Thursdays, 10/9c on NBC
When you’ve watched as much television as I have, every new show seems like a grab bag of actors from a handful of other a. unsuccessful/cancelled or b. good/retired shows. And this one seems like it’s got more than usual, but a familiar face isn’t always bad, and I do watch an irregular amount of television. Anyway, Southland is a gritty look at life on the streets with the men and women of the LAPD. I know, surprise surprise, another cop show. Set in Los Angeles. Described as “gritty”. But there’s something about this one that makes it seem a little bit more realistic. First off, it’s more of a real-time format, and focuses on the relationships between the characters, rather than sticking with some of the formulaic tendencies of other shows that follow one case from start to finish, with
exciting predictable twists along the way. And it stands up to the “grit” description, bleeping out obscenities rather than pretending that cops don’t say certain words that start with F or S as other glossy network cop shows do (which is a pet peeve of mine). Also, it’s set in South Central Los Angeles, and dedicates a fair amount of time to the issue of gang and drug related violence, something usually just touched upon in a few scattered episodes. So I’m intrigued by this one, I think it has the potential to be something good. Oh, and may I just say, I quite like the opening credits. Not really important, but I’m mentioning it anyway. So check it (and its intro) out here.
Pass: Another interesting cast, and a bunch more people you’ll recognize. The lovely Ben Mackenzie (The OC), Michael Cudlitz (Band of Brothers, Standoff), Kevin Alejandro (Shark), Tom Everett Scott (Saved), Patrick Fischler (Mad Men), Emily Bergl (Men in Trees), etc. And enough of that “something different” to keep it going…hopefully.
Fail: It’s still another cop show, so it’s already on thin ice. The bleeping is something to get used to, but gives the show more of an edge. And NBC, you don’t have to pull out the LA in Southland on every commercial preview or teaser to remind us that it’s set in Los Angeles. It’s a 50/50 shot between NY and LA to begin with, so I think we can figure it out.
Alright that’s it. No more long-winded (and painfully late) reviews for a while, I promise. Happy watching to you all!