It’s only the first week of the new season but so far comedy has not kicked ass. Last year was a banner bounce-back season for the genre. Freshman shows like MODERN FAMILY and GLEE became breakout hits and others like COUGAR TOWN and THE MIDDLE at least managed to grab a toehold. I haven’t seen all the new entries this year but so far things are not looking good – either creatively or ratingswise.
And understand, I’m really rooting for these guys. I want to see sitcoms come back in a big way. But so far I’ve been disappointed. Doubly so because the creative teams behind many of these new series have turned out great work before.
So far, if there's one common denominator it's that all of these new shows seem to be making ass-fun of easy targets – overweight people, white trash, senility, the silly rich.
I love Chuck Lorre’s BIG BANG THEORY. But MIKE & MOLLY is just awful. Fat jokes, fart jokes, stock cartoon side characters, and two leads who are very likeable but not particularly funny. We see two fat people wedged in a stairway, tables collapsing under the weight of the star. Lip service is paid to the plight of overweight people then they ask one to say, “Lose three pounds? My farts weigh more than three pounds”. You don’t have to be Noel Coward but Jesus, come on guys.
The premiere numbers weren’t great. They didn’t hold as much of TWO MEN’S audience as everyone would have liked, and my guess is their numbers will slide.
RAISING HOPE is a knockoff of RAISING ARIZONA. Greg Garcia is one of my favorite writers and Martha Plimpton is an amazing actress, but this show felt like all the white trash jokes they couldn’t get to on MY NAME IS EARL they jammed in here. Not to mention a plethora of old age dementia jokes. Cloris Leachman parading around in just a bra. There should be a whole separate TV warning letter for that. Maybe "Y". "This show is rated "Y" for excessive amount of times you'll say 'yikes'!"
And watching RUNNING WILDE from Mitch Hurwitz (who gave us the inspired ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) was like watching Willie Mays be a greeter in Atlantic City. First off, and I realize this may just be me, but I don’t get Will Arnett. For me he is not funny for a second. Never real. Always over-the-top. Always playing the same character. As for the subject matter, just contrast how Mitch Hurwitz treats an aimless rich boy vs. what Steve Gordon did with the same character in ARTHUR. One is crass, ridiculous, and you don’t give a shit about him. The other is hilarious, sympathetic, and surprisingly real.
Neither show did well for Fox. HOPE dropped off 50% in key demos from it's strong lead-in, GLEE. WILDE did worse. Of course, nothing is doing well for Fox. Heavily-promoted LONE STAR was a disaster. Their schedule could be in trouble. And I don't think J-Lo is going to save it.
Tonight we have OUTSOURCED on NBC, which according to scuttlebutt is a half hour of Apu jokes. There are also the two romantic comedies that are essentially the same show. We’ll see how they fare.
And I haven’t seen *! &!” MY FATHER SAID on CBS. But I heard somewhere that a lot of DVR’S can’t read all the symbols in the title so you can’t pre-record it. And if that’s the case, then they are in deep *! &!”. Reviews have not been kind.
Shows often take time to find their groove. It’s not really fair to judge a series based strictly on their pilot. They may all still turn it around. Of the three, I think RAISING HOPE has the best chance. With Greg Garcia at the helm I’m willing to keep coming back. But only if Cloris is dressed.
And there’s always the back-up series. Maybe the next GLEE or MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE (non-Fall premieres) will be in that crop. I don’t know. But I do know this: producers of those shows are being asked to get them ready to air FAST. That can't be a good sign.