Midseason TV Mania, Part 2 (Comedy)

As I described last post, midseason means new shows. The general perception is that it’s only the weaker shows (especially comedies) that come out as midseason replacements but that’s not necessarily the case. I believe Seinfeld premiered in midseason, but this year’s batch definitely doesn’t seem much like Seinfeld (though it does feature one of the stars of Seinfeld). It’s a very volatile time in the TV market and actually two midseason comedies have already come and gone: Four Kings (which I watched, enjoyed, and already reviewed) and Emily’s Reasons Why Not (which I didn’t watch at all). Here are a few others that I’ve seen:

Modern Men is the same as Four Kings (i.e. single guy friends in the big city trying to grow up). You could think of it as Friends without the girls. There’s one womanizer, one neurotic, and one relatively normal guy. They decide to seek the help of a life coach (played by Jane Seymour, formerly Dr. Quinn, medicine woman), who gives them advice and life lessons to help them with women and growing up. This show is not as good as Friends, or even Four Kings. The characters are flat and the “lessons” are a bit on the Dr. Phil side. The jokes might occasionally garner a chuckle or two, but the show is so conventional that it makes Four Kings seem “cutting edge”.
(Fridays on WB) 3 out of 5

The Loop centres on Sam, a very young executive at an airline who still lives/hangs with his slacker friends. In fact, most of the time he’s on the way to meeting them at some bar or other. There are really two “situations” in this comedy: the office and the home/friends. The office portions are quite dry, with the funniest character being Sam’s cougar of a boss who is always hitting on him (sexual harassment as punchline?). He also has a deadpan senior boss who has become a one-note character as well: he’s a humourless curmudgeon, but whenever Sam presents some half-baked proposal—the last-minute result of having spent all his time partying—the old guy thinks it’s genius and congratulates him on a job well done. (The old guy’s oblivious. We get it!) At home, there’s a girl [space] friend that he’s secretly in love with (but I don’t think her name is Rachel), and he has a slacker doofus for an older brother (and he’s definitely not named Kramer). Derivative, unfunny, and the show is presented in a kind of post-Arrested Development style. Yawn.
(Thursdays on Fox) 2 out of 5

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine from Seinfeld) returns to television comedy (again) as the title character in The New Adventures of Old Christine. The premise is that her ex is heavily involved with a new girlfriend also named Christine. She’s younger than Julia’s character so she’s New Christine (get it?). [Sidebar: I just saw the actor playing Christine’s ex, Clark Gregg, shooting a movie right in front of my building last Sunday.] Week after week, Christine dates and tries getting her life in gear after her divorce. Her ex comes around a lot (with New Christine); her slacker younger brother lives with her (apparently subsidizing the rent with a steady supply of sarcasm); and there’s a cute little son who she dotes on. Initially there were also a few rich-mom stereotype characters from the son’s school that were kind of funny as well. The show definitely has some good jokes, but the character of Christine is pretty neurotic. After surviving so many seasons of Frasier Crane sabotaging his dating life because of neuroses, I don’t know if I can sit through that again. I think I’ll keep giving Christine a chance while she lasts, but the life stage that Christine is in is not very relatable to me. I can’t get too excited about another “the two ex-spouses are getting too close” story line (there’s one going on in Desperate Housewives right now as well).
(Mondays on CBS) 3.5 out of 5 There are a few other new sitcoms (including Teachers, and Free Ride) but this is such a tepid batch (and I’m sad about the cancellation of Four Kings). I think I’m just going to wait until next fall to see what shows survive. It doesn’t look good…

That’s all, folks!


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