Fall TV 2013 – Comedy

For the last few years, the fall premiere season has been pretty spread out, but this year it seems like we’re back to the traditional big bang of having a lot of the shows start together. It’s October now, so the season is in full swing and we’ve had a few episodes to enjoy both new and returning shows, getting a sense of whether it’s going to be a good season or not. So let’s get right down to it with the returning shows of 2013.

Returning Comedies

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Modern Family returns with Jay and Gloria as parents to baby Joe, Claire has gone back to work (for her dad’s company), and the big story thread of the season is Mitchell and Cam’s wedding. Despite all these story changes, they are still sticking with what has worked for this true situation comedy. It’s actually kind of nice because we’ve gotten to know these characters over the seasons and can anticipate how they’re going to act when whatever situations of the week come up. It’s more of the same (like this past episode where the various couples were getting ready to go to a fancy restaurant, which reminded me a lot of the previous episode where everyone is trying to get to Manny’s birthday dinner) but they do it so well.

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The Big Bang Theory is in a similar boat, just simply enjoying the various relationships among the seven main characters. A recent episode where Raj (oh yeah, he can talk to women now, but that hasn’t really affected the overall show too much) planned a scavenger hunt for the group was a fun way to mix and match the pairings while enjoying some healthy competition between friends (I loved those kinds of game episodes on Friends and I love them here as well). I also enjoyed the nerdiness of the Raiders of the Lost Ark episode which has surely become a geek landmark — we’ll sadly never think of Indiana Jones the same way again.

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Parks and Recreation wowed me with a premiere episode that was aimed straight for my own heart, taking the gang to London, baby! The characters have gone through a lot of changes as well, with Ron getting married with a baby on the way, Anne and Chris back together and trying to have a baby (and leaving the show), April off to veterinary college, plus Leslie trying defend herself from a recall by ungrateful Pawneeans — there’s a lot going on. Nevertheless, the well-established characters continue to shine (most hilariously when compared to their counterparts from neigbouring rival town of Eagleton).

Finally, How I Met Your Mother finally showed us the Mother character in last season’s finale, only to put her away for a while. The creators of this show love to play with format and while last season was bookended by glimpses of Barney and Robin’s wedding, this season is spent entirely on the events leading up to and into that wedding (it’s kind of like 24, only different). While other shows sticking with their many-seasoned characters seems comfortable and familiar, I’m a bit tired of these characters and wish they’d just get on with things. This plot slowdown is actually slightly tortuous. If this weren’t the last season, I’m sure I would have stopped watching.

New Comedies

There are not too many new comedies that really caught my eye. Still, I’m giving a few of them a try — we’ll see how many of them survive cancellation and stay on my viewing list.

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The Crazy Ones is a return to TV for Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar (yes, she returned already in the forgettable Ringer, but I’ve forgotten it already) playing father and daughter ad execs. He plays against type (not!) as the manic, free-associating, crazy one, while she takes the role of the straight-laced sober one (who — as former vampire slayer — sadly kicks no butt). Each episode there is some opportunity for Williams to express his barely-contained id, and the characters (including others in the firm) are nice enough types. Regrettably, I still don’t feel much for any of them or the two leads. However, I’m dying to love this show, especially as it’s created by one of my all time favourite TV gods: David E. Kelley.

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Sean Saves the World is a ridiculous title for a relatively run-of-the-mill sitcom, but I guess my tastes are pretty common as I find myself chuckling quite a bit. Sean Hayes (remember Jack from Will & Grace?) plays a gay single dad to a teenage daughter. Between his busybody mom (played by Linda Lavin — remember Alice from Alice?) and his quirky coworkers at an online retail company, which include a rather odd (but kind of funny) mini-Hitler of a boss (played by a funny Thomas Lennon — who I don’t remember from anything but you’ll know him when you see him) they have got family and work situations covered. I don’t know if this show will last long, but I’ll keep enjoying it while it does.

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The comedy that I think has the most promise is Brooklyn Nine-Nine about a police precinct where Andy Samberg stars as a cocky detective among a mixed bag of characters including an ironically (because he’s gay) straight-laced, by-the-book captain played by Andre Braugher (since he’s no longer commandeering a nuclear submarine). Even though it’s ostensibly a cop show, it is a workplace comedy which has a lot in common with The Office and I really enjoy the way the characters interact. Also, they are all varying ratios of normal to dysfunction — which make them relatable yet humourous. Samberg is pretty natural as the cocky one, and no one plays extra-serious better than Braugher. Stephanie Beatriz plays the kind of scary Diaz; Joe La Truglio plays the mousy, slightly-bungling Boyle; Melissa Fumero plays the eager-to-please/succeed Det. Santiago — who’s very competitive with Samberg’s Det. Peralta. I can’t remember too many cop sitcoms but I think this one is enjoyable and they’ve got a pretty good ensemble going.

Next, on to dramas…

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