Over the next few blogs, I'll be previewing the new TV season. We'll start gently, with the comedies:
By MIKE HUGHES
Yes, TV still knows how to craft a clever situation-comedy.
This fall, three networks each have one new gem. CBS sticks to its specialty – sharp dialog,
taped before a studio audience. ABC and NBC have romantic comedies filmed in a
rich, movie style.
Oddly, most networks (CBS excluded) also manage to make
awful comedies. Here are this year’s nine new sitcoms, rated on a 0-10 scale:
Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) has 263,000 friends in social
media and zero in real life; human interaction perplexes her. Now she wants to
be coached by Henry (John Cho), a calculating public-relations guy. Yes, this
is the “Pygmalion”/”My Fair Lady” theme for a new era. It’s brilliantly written
by Emily Kapnek (“Suburgatory”) and perfectly cast. Gillan (“Doctor Who”) shows
Lucy-esque comedy skill.
(8 p.m. Tuesdays, ABC; debuts Sept. 30)
“The McCarthys” (8).
Brian Gallivan grew up in a vibrant Irish family, surrounded
by people who loved him and all Boston sports teams. The latter instinct escaped
him; now he’s written a fast, clever comedy with Tyler Ritter (John’s son) as
the family anomaly and Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”) as his mom.
(9:30 p.m. Thursdays, CBS; debuts Oct. 30, after CBS ends
its Thursday-football stretch)
“A to Z” (8)
Andrew and Zelda are opposites. He’s a romantic who works at
a dating service; she’s a lawyer who’s given up on romance. Are they destined
to be together? Have they met before? They aren’t sure, but it’s a fun ride.
After playing Mother on “How I Met Your Mother,” Cristin Milioti gets a fresh
shot at destiny.
(9:30 p.m. Thursdays, NBC; Oct. 2)
“Black-ish” (5). Dre and Rainbow (Anthony Anderson and
Tracee Ellis Ross) have grabbed the American dream. He’s an advertising
vice-president, she’s an anesthesiologist, their four kids are comfy. Still, he
frets that those kids have no feel for black culture … especially after his son
wants a bar mitzvah. The result tends to get one-note, but has its fun moments.
(9:30 p.m. Wednesdays, ABC; Sept. 24)
“Manhattan Love Story” (5)
New to New York, Dana is optimistic about work and life.
Peter grew up here; he’s mostly optimistic about one-night stands. These
opposites are sort of interesting to watch; there’s more fun in his mismatched
family and her chaotic workplace.
(8:30 p.m. Tuesdays,
ABC; Sept. 30)
“Bad Judge” (4)
Maybe this is what we fantasize when we watch “Judge Judy”
and such: Kate Walsh plays an acid-tongued judge who drums in a friend’s band
and views life as a party. We also see a warm side with a troubled kid, but
that may not be enough to keep us watching.
(9 p.m. Thursdays, NBC; Oct. 2)
“Marry Me” (3)
On “Saturday Night Live” and beyond, Casey Wilson has been a
likable comedy actress. Here, she confuses shouting with humor. Her longtime
boyfriend (Ken Marino) hasn’t proposed yet; she screams so stridently that she
doesn’t hear him when he does. This was created by David Caspe, who recently
married Wilson (yes, after waiting years). There’s potential, but it’s not
(9 p.m. Tuesdays, NBC; Oct, 14)
A former “Saturday Night Live” writer, John Mulaney is young
and lean and likable. As this show starts – brief stand-up comedy, then his
story of three friends, one of them (Nasim Pedrad) female – we’re tempted to
think of “Seinfeld.” Alas, that thought vanishes with the show’s scatter-shot,
(9:30 p.m. Sundays, Fox; Oct. 5)
The real-life story of Cristela Alonzo is a gem. Raised by a
single mom who held two full-time jobs, she spent her first eight years in an
abandoned diner and soared as a comedian. Somehow, this sitcom version fails.
The writing is flat and blunt; so are the performances, including Alonzo in the
(8:30 p.m. Fridays, ABC; Oct. 10)