So just as every other New TV Season, I’ve taken it upon myself to watch every new show there is, push myself through it and see what’s what. Some end up great, some end up not so much. Some get through to a season 2, some get canceled… Oh, who am I kidding, 75% to 90% get canceled whether they’re great or not!

Fall of 2012 was no different  so I decided that this time around I’m going to share my thoughts, and either give you all a good chance to avoid the muck, or take a chance on something that you may end up falling in love with (even if it is ripped away from your heart in December or April…).

Keep in mind that these are ONLY the new series. These are the ones that really have to fight to stay alive in the cut throat arena of who survives and who has their sets dismantled and their casts separated and funneled into next season’s contestants. I’ll keep updating as I watch, so expect updates through to the weekend! So without further ado (ado? What does that even mean? it should be “without further prattling on and on), here’s what I have to say:

Comedies:

Partners

Four friends, three couples.

Partners (CBS, Mondays)
Most Like: How I Met Your Mother, Will and Grace

Two best friends (since they were children of 8 or so it seems) grow up together and doing everything the same way. They go to the same schools, join the same profession, and eventually open up an Architecture partnership together. As you would expect, the name of the series carries more weight than just the “Partnership” of them working together. One is straight, and marrying the womanly love of his life. The other is gay, and living happily with the manly love of his. Get it? There are four people here, but three couples, or sets of… wait for it… PARTNERS. HAH… Ok, it’s not as hilarious as that, but it’s still a cute play on the title and character roles.

Nerd Lair Rating: 7/10

I like it. No doubt about it, it is as funny as one would expect from the creators of Will and Grace. Joe (David Krumholtz) carries a sarcastic but lovable personality, and Louis (Michael Urie) has a biting sharp personality that only a best friend could put up with, but is just so funny for an outside viewer to see. The laugh track (or live audience? who can really tell??) is a bit off-putting, as it seems like they want to tell us when to laugh, because we didn’t already know. Comedies today have largely evolved past the use of this…

Ben and Kate

His sister. Her daughter. Who’s raising who?

Ben and Kate, (FOX, Tuesdays)
Most Like: Modern Family, Arrested Development

A sister with her life together (not really, she’s a single mom that can’t keep down a man and constantly self-doubts herself), and a brother with nothing together (not really, he’s loyal, mostly honest, and would do anything for family). The sister and her daughter have a mostly stable life, and the brother wants to try and make his life more stable by moving in with them. She takes care of him, he keeps her real. Balance, Yin/Yang, etc. etc. so on and so forth.

Nerd Lair Rating: 4/10
Not loving it. It’s more of a dry humour, and most situations that maybe some could find funny, come off a bit more disturbing and awkward than they should. Ben (Nat Faxon) makes a play for the small screen, and comes off as he usually does in almost every big screen role he takes on: Awkward and unfunny. Kate (Dakota Johnson) does the same for me, though without as much of the precedence as Ben. No laugh track, so that’s sort of a plus, but then again, maybe I needed a cue on when to laugh…

the mindy project

For everyone whose
life is a work in progress.


The Mindy Project,
 (Fox, Tuesdays)
Most Like: New Girl, Seinfeld

A 30-something (or late 20-something) woman OB/GYN doctor trying to make sense of her life. A lover for the romantic comedies of the 80’s and 90’s, Mindy’s life can often resemble a movie plot, though not always the one she wants it to. The women in her life try to steer her in the direction that makes the most sense, and her male co-workers represent stereotypes that men face in movies and tv (the complicated sex-addict and the complicated manly-man with a soft side).

Nerd Lair Rating: 8/10
Liking it a lot. Mindy (Mindy Kaling is an immediately lovable character. She is attractive, but neurotic. Deep, but desperate. Thoughtful, but impulsive. She is a character that a viewer can relate to. She is flawed, but not so much that you should dislike her. She is a real person, with real issues. It’s hard to pin down exactly what The Mindy Project is most like, because it’s something kind of new as far as a sitcom goes. No laugh track, which is a definite bonus. Unfortunately, it occasionally gets a bit more crude than it should. It seems out of place, when this character that is looking for “true-movie-style-love” is praying in the cab for a list of qualities in her date that she is about to have dinner with, but adds in “the penis of Michael Fassbender”. It’s not enough for me to dislike the show or the character  just something that felt like it should have been on Two Broke Girls, and not this show…

the new normal

Abnormal is the new normal…

The New Normal, (NBC, Tuesdays)
Most Like: Modern Family, New Girl

A successful gay couple (a doctor and a tv personality) want to have a child but are having a hard time finding the right surrogate. Life isn’t easy for an “abnormal” family structure, and a lot of people are not yet ready for it to become a norm. A recently single mother is tired of life pushing her around(as well as her cheating husband and racist opinionated grandmother). These two groups meet in the middle, and the woman decides to become the couple’s surrogate. Life lessons and hilarity ensue (for everyone involved).

Nerd Lair Rating: 5/10
Don’t love it, don’t hate it. This one has a little more ways to go before it wins me over. It often carries a bit of dry humour, but also integrates some shock-value comedy to try and capture a far different audience than one might expect. The couple contrast each other nicely, where one is fairly stereotypical (quoting broadway, acts very catty, spends a bit too much time in front of the mirror) the other gives another glimpse of the lesser-known (but very real) gay male archetype (basketball playing, beer drinking, football watching). The grandmother is the usual source of humour, showing a racist demeanor that would make Archie Bunker blush. She doesn’t make fun of other races, cultures, or sexual orientations, but rather truly believes in her misconceptions and stereotypes on them, and is not afraid to share her opinions on them. I often find myself open mouthed, wondering if I heard what I heard, and if it will continue. Spoiler: I did hear what I heard, and it does continue. The mother is probably the blandest of all, always being there, but feeling more like scenery than foreground. One thing I really enjoy so far is the loving family dynamic that is starting to shine through for everyone (even granny) despite their differences and the potentially controversial subject matter. And the best thing, in my opinion, about the show is just how important it could be for the future of families. It truly does give a snap shot of what may become “The New Normal” for family life, or more appropriately, show that there is no “Normal” when it comes to any family. Oh, and no laugh track, so always good.

go on

Feel the love…

Go On, (NBC, Tuesdays)
Most Like: Mr. Sunshine, Outsourced

A harsh but talented sport radio personality is going through a profound life change: his wife just died. Do not fret, this won’t be a sobbing hug-it-out aspect of the show. Now he has to attend a Loss Support Group while going back to work and trying to get on with his life. As one would expect, the support group is not something he thinks is an effective use of his time, but through his often strange and deranged group-mates, he learns different.

Nerd Lair Rating: 9/10
Surprised? Don’t be. I am LOVING… I’ll say it again… LOVING this show. It’s made me laugh, it’s made me cry, it’s made me think, and it’s made me ignore all else around me and pay attention to only it. Ryan King (Matthew Perry) is a complicated character that is hard not to identify with in some way. He’s opinionated, and thinks he knows what’s best. Sometimes he actually does, and sometimes he doesn’t at all. Probably the best part of the show is the antics and issues that the other support group goers get themselves into and share with the group. In the pilot, King even convinces them to compete against each other in a “Who has to saddest Loss story” competition. It sounds morose, but it actually turns out pretty great for everyone. They enjoy themselves, and smile and laugh, while realizing that while their loss is devastating for them, others have the same feelings, and are there for them as well. I have been a fan of Perry’s acting and humour since… ever! Friends was a great show that I still hold dear largely because of his humour that often offset the drama created by the others. I mean… can he BE any funnier? Get it? Because that was his favorite go to phrase… “Can I be ____ ?” … get it? Ok, well I’m not as funny as he is, but it’s great. Oh, and again, NO laugh track. Starting to feel a trend here comedy writers/producers?

Guys with Kids

Jimmy Falon’s love child…

Guys with Kids, (NBC, Wednesdays)
Most Like: I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Traffic Light

Three early thirty-somethings at somewhat various stages in their adult lives are fathers raising anywhere from 1 to 4 kids, and that’s the show. One has 4 rambunctious kids, and does everything his wife asks, and is a self described prisoner in his role. One has 2 somewhat well behaved children, and is the good looking guy with a great looking wife who doesn’t pay much attention to her until she makes it an issue and then he does. (Yes, that’s a archetype… look it up!) The last of the trio has one baby boy, is divorced from his neurotic and controlling ex-wife, and is trying to make it back into the dating world. The three men go to each other for advice, and as their only source of social interaction at this point in their lives.

Nerd Lair Rating: 4/10
Not loving it. It’s not so much that I didn’t laugh. It’s not that it didn’t have potential for some interesting and hilarious situations. It’s not that they didn’t have a great cast. They actually have all of those things, and yet still could not capitalize on any of it. Though the idea of a group of fathers relying on each other for advice and companionship has not been an explored plot for a series, it has been a general aspect of many sitcoms in the past, so they don’t really have anything new to show us. It’s not something someone would want to turn off after the opening credits, but it’s not something that is likely to bring in an audience week after week. I foresee a cookie cutter format where each episode will carry the same formula, and just rotate the roles between the three main characters. Oh, and laugh track. They claim that the episode was filmed in front of a live studio audience, and that may be true, but the laughing I hear when watching the show sounds the exact same for the various laugh moments, and that tells me the may have just blotted out the audience’s laughs (if they existed) and added in their own.

The Neighbors

A down to earth family comedy…

The Neighbors (ABC, Wednesdays)
Most Like: Third Rock From The Sun, Suburgotory

A family of 5 move in to a new neighborhood. The father wants the move, because it’s a nice suburbia where new homes are rarely available, one has just come on the market, and there is a gold course! (For some reason, the golf course is a major win for him, though it seems he doesn’t play…) The rest of the family doesn’t want to move, as they are comfortable in the old place, yet go with it anyway. The neighbors? (The show IS titled the way it is for a reason…) They are a community of aliens, that came from another planet 10 years ago, but are now stranded because they forgot to pack the charger for the inter-galactic cell-phone and they can’t contact the home planet. They all have their own family dynamics and act like a normal earth community (except for the occasional personal space ship and shape shift). The human family finds out rather quickly about the not-well-kept secret of their neighbors, and they decide to stay and join the community due to their capability for friendship.

Nerd Lair Rating: 3/10
Did not like it. Despite being the first sci-fi subject sitcom in years, this show just isn’t cutting the mustard (the green gooped anthropomorphic mustard). The aliens are dry to the point of being starchy clothes with nothing but plywood inside of them. They name themselves after “ideal human physical specimens”, such as Reggie Jackson and Larry Byrd. That probably sounded like a great idea in the boardroom or bedroom that the writers were locked in when putting together their ideas, but it just didn’t work. The human family is just a typical family dynamic (argumentative but loving parents, bickering children, and angsty teenager). It could have worked a bit more if part of the plot was that the aliens had to hide their secret from the humans, but they come out and tell them pretty early on. The humans give their due fear to their entire community being aliens, but this disappears within 5 minutes of air time. It makes sense to keep the show moving forward quickly, but it distracted me based on its unlikeliness and lack of real world reaction. It might have worked if the aliens were well done make-up or animatronic (Thanks, Disney!) creations, but they went with little green antennaed  CGI people, and that through me off even further. No laugh track here, but it might have been helpful to know when I should be laughing and not shaking my head. (AND, the American spelling of Neighbors without the U drives me crazy as a Canadian… it’s Neighbours!)

Animal Practice

It’s quite an operation…

Animal Practice (NBC, Wednesdays)
Most Like: Dr. Dolittle, Scrubs

A longtime Animal Hospital vet/doctor and his staff of vets/nurses/doctors take care of animals of all types as the former owners’s daughter takes over the day to day business of the hospital. The doctor actually loves animals, and keeping them safe, but generally dislikes humans, which usually includes the owners of his animal patients. The added touch is that the new boss has a longtime past relationship with the Veterinarian. Change is in the air for the hospital, both for the current staff and the new boss. The cookie and wacky staff add for the comic relief in the numerous background stories that tend to go on throughout the main plot.

Nerd Lair Rating: 4/10
Not loving it. The shows breaks down for me pretty quickly, as the opening scene shows a cat try to commit suicide by jumping out of a third story window as a cry for attention (as per the vet’s diagnosis, as the cat didn’t die) and there was some kind of animal ambulance that rushed the cat to this special animal hospital. Maybe I’m out of touch with big city animal health care, but the plausibility of an animal ambulance seems a bit insane to me. The idea that the protagonist loves animals so much is touching, but he often takes it to a arrogant level that shakes my enjoyment of the character. The best three things of the show are (in order of importance) 1) No laugh track. 2) A funny monkey assistant (everything is better when you throw in Crystal the Monkey, whose acting credits include American Pie, Malcolm In The Middle, Night at the Museum, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Hangover Part II). 3) Tyler Labine as Dr. Jackson (He doesn’t have much luck with successful tv comedies, as his last two series of Sons of Tucson and Mad Love both were canceled after only one season each, but that man is hilarious, and deserves the recognition for it!). It’s a cute friendly comedy, but it mixes a children’s show kind of setting with an adult humour, and that just doesn’t make it for me.

Stay tuned for The Nerd Lair’s review of the Fall 2012 New Drama TV Series!
(Updated – Click Here to see the New Drama Series Reviews!)

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  1. […] Fall 2012 New TV Review… Part 1 – Comedy […]

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