Fall TV Preview: CBS Celebrates Mother’s Day?

josh-radnor

If I was excited about tonight’s new and returning TV shows, I might start this article by writing “Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!”

Tonight CBS is doubling down with mom-themed shows. There’s the old standby How I Met Your Mother beginning its final season, and the brand new Mom setting sail on its maiden voyage.

As was the case last week, we’ve reviewed the potential of both shows for you below. I hate spoilers as much as the next guy, but I’ll at least tell you that you probably won’t be sprinting to your nearest remote control to add these shows to your DVR list before they air tonight.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that later in the week there will be some legitimately interesting shows to review. Until then, enjoy the live-audience programming that tens of millions of people apparently love.

New Show

Mom

When & Where: 9:30pm on CBS

What: A family sitcom about a recovering alcoholic single mom who has a mom of her own who’s also an alcoholic/bad influence. It feels like the mother-daughter version of Two Broke Girls (a comparison you’d only understand if you currently watch that horrific CBS show, which starts back up tonight…but we won’t be reviewing it because once again, it’s terrible).

Who: Anna Faris plays the lead role, and Allison Janney plays her mom. And Badger from Breaking Bad plays the father of Anna Faris’ daughter.

Ross’s Take: Pass. I know there’s going to be an audience for this show because it comes from the Chuck Lorre/CBS factory (together they’ve created Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly, all current CBS hits). So if you’re a fan of those other shows, you’ll probably want to check out Mom. But other than The Big Bang Theory, I can’t stand the live-audience sitcoms. The humor is…unintelligent? nonexistent? stuff that I might have found funny 10 years ago? You know how it goes…there are people whose sense of humor gravitates towards things like Arrested Development and Parks & Recreation, and then there are people who get their comedy rocks off to the dull CBS shows of the world. It’s not wrong of you to like these shows. It just means you’re less educated than the rest of us.

I give this show a 1 out of 5, but like all of the shows in my previews, I’ll watch the first episode and recalibrate if I have to.

Julie’s Take: The trailer didn’t make me laugh and couldn’t even keep my attention. I give it a 2 out of 5, so I’m still giving it a chance. And I don’t want to sound like a mean person because I’m sure Anna Faris is a good person and funny, but I just don’t find her funny at all.

(I can attest to the fact that this is the first TV trailer out of all the previews we’ve done where she walked away in the middle. And not even to do something more interesting…she went to straighten her hair rather than finish watching.)

Returning Show

How I Met Your Mother

When & Where: 8:00pm on CBS

What: A sitcom that centers around five friends living in New York in their early 30s, with a specific focus on Ted Mosby’s never-ending search for his soulmate.

Who: Main characters are played by Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel. The other two main actors are apparently terrible and you wouldn’t have seen them in anything else.

Ross’s Take: I already poured my heart out in August about the most troubling aspect of this show: that the stakes of whiney douchebag Ted finding his true love aren’t high enough to keep me invested as the show continually strings us along to that fateful meeting between him and the future mother. And for a show that used to be genuinely funny, it’s become genuinely unfunny. And let’s face it, if you’ve never watched this show before today, you’re not going to start now. Too many inside jokes and humor that’s derived from previous episodes. And if you have watched every episode to this point, my negative review probably isn’t going to sway you. But I won’t back down from my stance in that August article that after watching the first eight years of this show, I’m quitting with only 20 episodes left.

Julie’s Take: I hate that show but I am gonna watch it for sure. I would not miss it. I give it a 4.5 out of 5 in that I’m definitely going to watch it, but I give it only a 2.5 out of 5 for how much I actually like it.

We’ll be back tomorrow with a handful of shows that might actually have promise. Stay tuned.

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Reviewing Three New TV Shows: The Bitch in Apt 23, Girls, Veep

Apparently female-led TV shows are all the rage these days.  When the new TV schedule launched last fall, people were praising all the shows that suddenly focused on women.  There are three shows in particular that women seem to have gravitated towards, but the only problem is that they are all differing levels of horrible.  There’s Whitney (Colossal Disaster), 2 Broke Girls (Regular-sized Disaster), and New Girl (Whatever one step below a disaster is).

I know what you’re thinking…how do I know so much about these “TV shows for women,” right?  Well, on my most unlucky nights, I’m sometimes forced to watch TV with women.  Unfortunately they don’t pick to watch the same NHL Network highlights over and over.  They pick the three shows mentioned above.  Whitney is so horrible that on one episode, you could actually hear boo’s coming from the automated laugh track.  2 Broke Girls is possibly the least funny sitcom anyone’s ever created.  And the only redeeming quality of New Girl is the hotness of its lead actress, Zooey Deschanel.  But even that isn’t enough to give the show any staying power in my mind.

I take most of my cues on what new shows to watch from Entertainment Weekly.  The magazine reminds you of every new show coming out on a weekly basis, and they make solid recommendations most of the time.  But I was naturally a little skeptical when I saw three more female-led shows hitting the TV within a couple weeks of each other.  EW gave all three solid reviews so I thought I’d try them all out and report back on my experience.

Here are my reviews and rankings of the three new shows in question:

3. Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 (Three episodes aired, Wednesdays at 9:30pm on ABC)

Terrible name.  Terrible show.

This sitcom is about June, a 26-year-old woman whose job as a mortgage broker transfers her from Indiana to New York.  The opening episode jams the theme of “naive midwesterner in a big, scary city” down our throats.  June’s life plan is to be married with a steady job by 26, have two kids by 30, blah blah blah…  All of that goes to shit when her office and apartment are seized by the feds because her boss is accused of embezzling money.  From there her life spirals out of control when she catches her fiance cheating on her with her new roommate, Chloe.

Chloe is the “bitch” from the title.  She’s apparently a con artist that does whatever necessary to drive her roommates crazy (walk around naked, have loud parties on a Tuesday night, go to the bathroom while her roommate is in the bath tub).  These roommates inevitably get fed up and leave, and Chloe gets to keep their rent money and security deposit.

This premise seems halfway decent if the show was centered around Chloe and a revolving door of roommates, but instead it seems like June is the center of this show.  That’s unfortunate because it means we’re in for 10 more episodes of her bouncing back and forth between, “I’m 26 and my life plan isn’t on track anymore, poor me,” and, “You’re right, why do I care about my life plan so much?  Let’s be spontaneous.”

After watching all three episodes, I can confidently tell you not to bother with it.  The plots are horrible and all over the place; the characters haven’t been developed very well; the funny parts that are supposed to be centered around the outrageous Chloe and her antics fall more than flat (as an example, in episode 2, the “humor” was centered around Chloe calling her dad “Scott” and treating him like a friend instead of a dad).  And somehow, these two women who were ready to rip each other’s throats out in episode one are suddenly chummy and happy to coexist in episodes two and three.  It’s also beyond unbelievable that June would stay in this apartment with the stuff Chloe puts her through.

Best minor character: James Van Der Beek…played by James Van Der Beek.  I’d watch a show based purely on this guy looking for acting jobs, but unfortunately Don’t Trust the B only gives us three minutes of him per episode.

Status on my DVR: Cancelled effective immediately

2. Girls (Three episodes aired, Sundays at 10:30pm on HBO)

Go ahead.  Laugh at me for thinking I might enjoy a show titled “Girls.”  But I like HBO original programming, and I usually give most of their new shows a try.  I understood the premise to be, “young adult trying to find her niche in life struggles to get by in a recession-era New York City.”  I thought it would be a show that all young adults could relate to as they try to find their place in the world.  I was hoping for universal themes and plots.  Unfortunately, after three episodes, it seems like this is a show for women only.  Here are some of the main topics and issues the characters have dealt with so far:

-Unwanted pregnancy and the subsequent abortion

-Getting your period when you think you’re pregnant

-Getting tested for STD’s because the guy who you have sex with regularly may or may not always use a condom, and may or may not be sleeping with other women

-Being a virgin at the age of 20-something

And for the most part, these things weren’t dealt with in a humorous way.  I could maybe get on board with that.  It’s a particularly heavy show, and while it’s extremely well done, I just don’t think it’s for me (call me immature, but I really do need some laughs with my daily dose of abortion, periods, and STDs).  The reason I haven’t ditched the show entirely is because I’m amazed by Lena Dunham (not in a “she’s hot” kind of way like Zooey).  She plays the lead character, Hannah, but also is the creator/executive producer of the show, and she writes and directs the episodes too.  That’s pretty friggen amazing for a 25-year-old.

Best line so far: “There is seriously nothing flakier in this world than not showing up to your own abortion.”  See, now that’s abortion with a humorous twist!  If only more of the show could be that funny.

Status on my DVR: Not cancelled yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

1). Veep (Two episodes aired, Sundays at 10pm on HBO)

Brilliant.  The idea to create a show focused on the Vice President of the United States isn’t brilliant itself.  But the combination of the genre (comedy), the tone (hapless satire with just the right amount of subtlety) and the lead actress (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) make it extremely promising.

You could almost describe Veep as “Parks and Recreation in the White House.”  It has the politician who means well but tends to put her foot in her mouth far too often. And it has her surrounding staff of misfits who can simultaneously get her out of a jam while creating a whole new problem.  If you like Parks and Rec, The Office or Arrested Development, give this show a chance and I promise you won’t regret it.

Best Minor Character: Speaking of Arrested Development, Tony Hale, who plays Buster on that show, is cast as Gary, the VP’s body man.  I have no idea what a body man really does, but it apparently includes taking a “sneeze bullet” for the VP.  And while we’re talking about the minor characters, I have a feeling that if you watch Veep, you’ll enjoy the VP’s staff more than the VP herself.  They are all amazing in their own way.

Best line so far: “Did the President call? No?”  It’s a running question from the VP to her receptionist, and you have to watch to appreciate it.

Status on my DVR: Taping all episodes, on the rise as one of my favorite comedies.