A Slice of Fried Gold

Fall TV Season: Early Analysis

Sunday, October 4, 2009
With us now about a month into the Fall TV season, we probably have a good idea as to what is working well (see below) and what isn't working well (goodbye CW's "The Beautiful Life"). There have been three new shows I've enjoyed more than the rest that I feel like I can strongly recommend, and strangely enough all three of them are sitcoms (evidently the demise of the sitcom was greatly exaggerated). Check them out below, and once you have make sure to set your DVR's because all of these shows could use the ratings support.

Community (Thursdays, NBC)

Community is the most formulaic of the three new shows that I'm enjoying, as it really is just pretty straight forward sitcom faire. Take the plot: a ne'er do well man drastically changes his life situation and gets involved with a group of misfits including a beautiful woman he's trying to woo. That happens a lot in both movies and TV, and to say this movie is really that different would be a lie.

However, it works because of a few things. First off, you have Joel McHale (also known as the reason I started watching the show), the host of The Soup and all around awesome guy. The question was could he translate his charisma from The Soup onto a weekly sitcom? Hell yeah he can, even if he is essentially playing himself I feel. His effortless charm is infectious and spills out to the rest of the cast.

Of course, the ensemble cast is definitely great as well. In particular Danny Pudi, the guy who plays Abed the heir to a falafel empire (but wants to be a film maker), is hysterical. His straight faced responses or rapid fire movie references (in particular on the pilot when he was going on about The Breakfast Club) are one of the biggest highlights of the show so far.

Definitely looking to continue watching, as it has been fun so far but not really laugh out loud funny. It is part of the newly awesome Thursday night comedy lineup for NBC, as the combination of this, Parks and Recreation, the Office and SNL Weekend Update Thursday/30 Rock are freaking fantastic. NBC finally recaptured the successful alchemy of that evenings programming.

Modern Family (Wednesdays, ABC)

Modern Family is a true ensemble comedy. It tracks three families who live on their own but are all part of the same, greater family tree. You have the standard nuclear family with the Dunphy's (Julie Bowen and a hysterical Ty Burrell are the parents), you have the gay couple who just recently adopted a Vietnamese baby girl named Lily, and then there is the patriarch of the family as played by Ed O'Neill who recently remarried to a beautiful Spanish woman and took on a new (and hysterically romantic) son. While you would think it could easily fall into sitcom cliches given its simple origin, the style that they developed for this show and the incredibly witty and outlandish writing they have keeps it fresh always.

Not to get overly effusive, but this show so far seems like it has a very good chance to be nearly as depraved, ridiculous and refreshingly funny as Arrested Development was. I've already laughed out loud more to the two episodes they've shown so far than probably all other sitcoms combined so far. Get on it while the getting is good.

Bored to Death (Sundays, HBO)

While this show may not be for everyone, as sportswriter extraordinaire Bill Simmons quite passionately dislikes this show (and anything that remotely resembles a Wes Anderson film). However, given that it combines the gifts of novelist/graphic novelist Jonathan Ames, personal favorite Jason Schwartzman, comedian of the moment (and all around hysterical man) Zach Galifianakis, and newly amazing supporting actor Ted Danson, to me, it's guaranteed to be good.

That it runs on HBO and can really go for no holds barred ridiculousness is a big bonus, as are the consistently excellent guest stars. So far we've had Kristen Wiig, Jim Jarmusch, Olivia Thirlby, Oliver Platt, and will soon see Parker Posey, and I'm sure it will just get better and better with this shows pedigree. Plus, the set up is incredibly original (a writer who moonlights as a private eye as a way to cope with getting dumped) and overall the show is completely unlike everything else on the air.

While it isn't hysterical (or even really funny), it is entertaining and all in all a good show. I highly recommend it if you're a fan of droll humor and effortlessly cool and literate shows.


Troy Olson said...

If only I had more time...I'll be adding Modern Family to the DVR rotation and try to watch it, as you're now the third person I've read this week claiming it's very funny.

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