Fall TV comedy offerings meagre 0
Cast of "Modern Family (from left tor right): Ed O'Neill, Rico Rodriguez, Sofia Veragara, Nolan Gould, Julie Bowen, Ariel Winter, Ty Burrell, Sarah Hyland, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Eric Stonestreet. (ABC photo)
The comedy cupboard could be bafflingly bare this season.
Some of my formerly favourite shows are going away. And I have to admit, I am largely unimpressed by the new crop of sitcoms.
Now, I always keep in mind that sitcoms usually are more clunky in their early stages than dramas, so I haven't completely given up. Good lord, do you ever run across a really early episode of Seinfeld or The Simpsons? Eep.
So here's a scan of some of the comedies for the coming TV season that have grabbed my attention, new and returning, for better or worse.
THE NEW NORMAL (new, NBC/CTV)
Arguably the biggest-buzz new sitcom on the docket, this offering from Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story) focuses on a gay couple that hires a surrogate mother. Ellen Barkin plays the Archie Bunker-esque grandmother of the surrogate. This show is overt in its efforts to be "important," but we sure hope it gets funnier. Barkin has some brisk lines in the pilot, but they seem telegraphed.
MODERN FAMILY (returning, ABC/Citytv)
Hey, this is the series that put gay couples on the map in this TV era, right? All sitcoms begin to show their age after a while and this one is heading into its fourth season. With all the actors, young and old, having received big raises, it'll be interesting to see if the bar has been raised, or if anyone reacts like a fat-cat athlete.
PARTNERS (new, CBS/Citytv)
More gay comedy. This is about two male friends, one gay and one straight, whose relationship gets tested when the straight friend gets engaged. It's set up to succeed, debuting in the same Monday time slot on CBS that previously launched How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and 2 Broke Girls.
THE OFFICE (returning, NBC)
It's funny how things go. I loved this show in its heyday. Then, post-Michael Scott, I dropped it from my personal viewing rotation early last season, not because it was bad necessarily, but it just felt like there was nothing left to say. Now, with the announcement that this will be the final season, and "all questions will be answered" according to executive producer Greg Daniels, I am instantly intrigued again.
THE MINDY PROJECT (new, Fox/Citytv)
Speaking of The Office, this show was created by, and stars, Mindy Kaling, a.k.a. arguably the worst employee in the history of Dunder Mifflin, Kelly Kapoor. In her new series, Kaling basically is looking for love as she manages her professional life, too, with a tone that is brazenly Bridget Jones-ish. For this to work, Kaling's supporting cast has to take the pressure off her to be non-stop cutesy-poo, as successfully occurred with Zooey Deschanel in New Girl last season.
ANGER MANAGEMENT (new, CTV)
Originating on FX in the United States, this series isn't going anywhere for a long, long time, as it recently was confirmed that 100 total episodes - yes, 100 - are contractually guaranteed. Man, you can't kill Charlie Sheen with a stick, and I'm pretty sure that at some point in his bizarre life, someone has tried.
GO ON (new, NBC, Global)
Speaking of actors you can't kill with a stick, we give you former Friends star Matthew Perry in seemingly his 407th attempt to find another hit. Hey, I like Perry, and this pilot was fairly funny. But why does it seem as if he always is playing just a slightly different version of the same character?
GLEE (returning, Fox/Global)
We'll see if this show can graduate to the next level. One funny clip from the new season has Kate Hudson referring to Lea Michele as a certain cast member from Friends. I laughed out loud.
BEN AND KATE (new, Fox/Citytv)
Of all the new pilots, this offering about a brother-and-sister combo perhaps had the most instantaneous charm. And while I am not a "kid person" at all, I have to say, this show features perhaps the cutest little girl I've ever seen (Maggie Elizabeth Jones).
GUYS WITH KIDS (new, NBC/Global)
Hey, if co-creator Jimmy Fallon had stuck with his original title - "DILFs" - at least we could have laughed at that.