Unless you’re one of the five people who enjoys watching Ryan Seacrest host the most arbitrary quiz show of all time, you’re probably ready for some decent TV back in your life.
As an industry insider living in Los Angeles, I hear all the talk about how the networks are now motivated to provide better programming during the summer months. But, no, summer TV still blows.
If you’re smart, you use the summer to get away from the television entirely. But not me. Being lazy is my life. So I’m stuck watching shows during the June-August months that would never stand a chance of making my exclusive DVR queue during prime TV-viewing season…The Newsroom, American Ninja Warrior, Under the Dome and MasterChef to name a few.
But here we are, September, when hope springs eternal for TV. Our favorite shows are returning along with plenty of new ones to try out.
The one problem with the start of TV season? How do you dig through the endless junk that the networks and cable channels throw at us to find those handful of shows that might turn into this decade’s The Office, 30 Rock or Breaking Bad? There’s almost too much to choose from.
That’s where I come in. I know what works in TV, and I know what you should be watching (picture me saying that in the most humble way possible).
Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be posting blogs almost every day to give my recommendations on which shows to add to your DVR and which shows to add to your “Never Record List” (if that sort of thing existed, How I Met Your Mother would be at the top of it).
But since my point of view is limited to “30-year-old, college-educated, genius male,” I’ve recruited an assistant to review these shows with me. Her point of view is “30-year-old, Masters degree, female, who is way too easily entertained.” Throughout these blogs, she’ll simply be known as Julie.
I’ll also be embedding trailers to each TV show we’re reviewing whenever possible so you can easily decide for yourself if you don’t want to blindly follow our opinions.
When I asked a friend the other day what new shows he was planning on watching, he said he hates wasting his time getting into shows that ultimately get cancelled. So his plan is to not watch any new shows, see which ones get picked up for a second season later this year or early next year, and then catch up on season one.
This is a guy who wants life to be so efficient he wouldn’t dare waste a minute of his time on something that might not pan out down the road. He’s essentially a robot due to his “all logic, no emotion” philosophy.
But to some extent, I agree with him. It sucks getting into a new show and then finding out four weeks later it’s going to be cancelled by the end of the season. But I’m more of a cyborg than a robot. Sign me up to avoid almost all one-hour dramas until I find out it’s worth investing my time, but I can’t do that with the 30-minute sitcoms. I love laughing too much.
So for this series of blogs, you can expect lots of comedy reviews and almost no drama reviews. Got it?
Without further ado, here’s what’s on the schedule for Tuesday, September 17th:
The Mindy Project
When & Where: 9:30pm on FOX
What: Workplace comedy that revolves around an OB/GYN who desperately wants her life to be right out of a classic romantic comedy/chick flick movie.
Who: Mindy Kaling of The Office fame is the creator and star. But the supporting cast and guest stars have as much to do with the hilarity of the show as Kaling does.
Ross’s Take: Don’t be scared off by the mention of a romcom/chick flick above. Much of the humor comes from the fact that Mindy takes great pains to make her life equivalent to the perfect Meg Ryan type of life from those 90s movies, but reality never works out quite as perfectly. The show splits time between Mindy’s professional life (her power struggle with the other doctors, her ongoing battle with a group of midwives that occupy the floor above her office) and her personal life (trying to have a one-night stand, embarrassing herself at weddings, trying to be a competent babysitter). In my opinion the supporting characters at her office are the best part of this show. Especially male nurse Morgan, played to perfection by Ike Barinholtz. If you watch Parks & Recreation, picture Andy Dwyer with a slightly more sinister past and a little more in the brain department.
I give The Mindy Project a 3.5 out of 5 on my arbitrary ratings scale, with a chance to move up to 4 during Season 2.
Julie’s Take: Mindy is the funniest person ever, and she has short hair this season! I give it a 6 out of 5 on Ross’s arbitrary ratings scale.
When & Where: 9:00pm on FOX
What: A sitcom about four friends—three men, one woman—living together in LA, whose lives and romances sometimes overlap.
Who: Zooey Deschanel is the “girl” in the title. In the pilot episode two seasons ago, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved into an apartment with three guys.
Ross’s Take: It’s occasionally funny and has a pretty low priority on my TV-viewing schedule. Out of the four main characters, there’s one who’s constantly funny (Schmidt, the overconfident metrosexual who offends everyone with his cockiness), two who are sometimes funny (Jess, the dorky school teacher, and Nick the serial slacker), and one who is completely invisible on the show (Winston, a former basketball player and current radio show host who NEVER gets to say or do anything funny or relevant…seriously, no one knows why he’s even on the show at this point).
Through the first two seasons there was a “Jim & Pam from The Office” type of will they or won’t they relationship between Jess and Nick. But at the end of last season they started hooking up and that’s the big dramatic issue they’ll try to work out this season.
I give New Girl a 2 out of 5, and if enough new shows entertain me this Fall, this one will be the first to drop out of my DVR recording list.
Julie’s Take: I’m so sick of all the characters except for Schmidt. I’m excited about watching it, but it’s starting to go down the How I Met Your Mother path for me (meaning no longer funny but I have to watch it). I give it a 2.5 out of 5…3 if you push me.
When & Where: 8:30pm on FOX
What: A workplace sitcom about an NYPD detective who plays the roll of class clown until he gets a new boss who wants everyone to operate “by the book.”
Who: Andy Samberg of Saturday Night Live/Dick In A Box fame plays the main character Jake Peralta.
Ross’s Take: It has potential as long as it doesn’t go too far down the slapsticky/watch Andy Samberg do little kid things road. If they have him doing things that I’d associate with a bad Adam Sandler movie, I’m out. The trailer makes me think we’re getting a lot of small roles and cameos from some pretty entertaining actors (Joe Lo Truglio and Fred Armisen are in the trailer) so I’m pinning my hopes to that.
I’ll give this a 3 out of 5 based on almost no information but the trailer.
Julie’s Take: It could be too slapsticky with Andy Samberg doing ridiculous stuff that annoys me, but I’m giving it a 5 out of 5 for now.
When & Where: 8:00pm on FOX
What: A buddy sitcom about two video game developers whose lives are turned upside down when their offensive/humiliating dads unexpectedly move in with them.
Who: Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi are the sons, Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) and Seth Green helped create it.
Ross’s Take: As an ordinary person, I’m passing on this show. But as a decorated TV critic and future TV writer, I’m going to watch a couple episodes just to see how bad it is. It looks bad. And I couldn’t help but seem some reviews from people who have gotten to watch a couple episodes ahead of time. They didn’t have anything good to say. It’s one of those shows with a laugh track where they go for the big laugh by having one of the dads walk around in a towel with his man boobs exposed. Or by the guys making the office assistant dress up like a Chinese school girl in a short skirt to impress some clients even though she’s adamantly against it. If that sounds funny to you, go for it.
I’m giving it a 0.5 out 5 with the strong possibility that I’m overrating it.
Julie’s Take: It looks hilarious. I’m giving it a high 4 out of 5.
Go ahead and get your DVRs ready because the shows (and my reviews) are going to be blasting you in the face nonstop for the next few weeks.