Perhaps you read my previous post lamenting how far behind I am on TV viewing in the new fall season but I’ve renewed my commitment to the tube and worked hard to catch up. Here are my thoughts on some of the best new shows:
“The Mindy Project/Fox” – Let’s face it, pilots usually suck. They have to cram in all the background info, show everyone looking perfect, and lure us with crazy plot twists. Mindy Kaling (from “The Office“) created this half-hour comedy and the pilot was one of the best I’ve ever seen. The opening sequence– summarizing her development from girl to woman in the context of her love for romantic comedies– was smart, funny and revealing. The characters — especially Mindy– are instantly likable and I dig the fast pace, clever writing, and sexual tension. The young cast, hospital setting, and quick throwaway lines remind me of “Scrubs” but Mindy’s character makes the show seem fresh and original.
“Nashville”/ABC – Connie Britton could read Romney’s Republican convention speech and I’d be hooked. She’s one of those rare stars who appeal to both men and women because of her talent and authenticity….and maybe also cuz she’s really pretty. We were huge “Friday Night Lights” fans so seeing her swish around in jeans and boots, talking in that southern twang is as comforting as sweet potato pie. The pilot starts out slow and seems to have a predictable premise: younger pop singer threatens older country music crooner whose star is fading. It’s “All About Eve” meets “Country Strong.” But wait! There’s more: a weak, insecure husband, a sexy former flame, a drugged out mother, and an evil, rich, controlling father who all make life in “Nashville” seem more like “Dynasty“– in a good way. Every critic has named it the best new show on TV so I’m hoping the later episodes have me whistling Dixie. It’s no “Mad Men” but I’m intrigued enough to keep watching.
“Revolution”/NBC – If you watched “Lost,” you can’t help but make the comparison, especially since J.J. Abrams produced both shows. Very attractive people in triathlon shape (save for the oversized, once rich comic relief guy, Aaron– a weaker version of Hurley) are trying to survive in a postapocalyptic future world where an unknown phenomenon disabled all technology dependent on electricity. That’s right, no computers, electronics, cars, or planes. The concept is cool and an interesting comment on our modern tech-crutch, but the show lacks the intrigue and drama of “Lost” or “The Hunger Games,” although it’s clearly aimed at those fans. The lead actress is an unknown who reminds me of a young Julia or Angelina, pretty but shrewd and tough. The pilot piqued my interest but not sure the writing and plot will sustain my attention.
“The New Normal“/NBC – This comedy has off-beat characters and lines that seem to want to shock you into laughing. The premise is a male gay couple who hire a surrogate to carry their baby. Ellen Barkin plays the Junior League nasty conservative grandmother of the surrogate, who has no filter and hates everybody. Nene Leakes (from “Real Housewives of Atlanta,“) is surprisingly good as the personal assistant to one of the guys. The show is set in LA and the characters and jokes are sooo Hollywood, they made me chuckle. But the first few episodes featured simple, almost boring plots and while the writers are clearly going for “Modern Family’s” sharp, sophisticated humor mixed with sweetness at the end, they can’t quite pull it off.
“Guys with Kids”/NBC – Jimmy Fallon –whom I adore– developed and executive produces this half-hour comedy. It’s taped before a studio audience so it feels old school from the get-go. The three male stars are charming and funny and know how to deliver lines. Tempest Bledsoe (Vanessa on “The Cosby Show”) and Jamie-Lynn Sigler (from “The Sopranos”) play the wives– one works and one stays home with the kids. The premise is good and many relevant parenting references (dinosaur chicken nuggets, school fundraisers, crazy hormones) will resonate. It’s smarter than your average comedy, but so far, I don’t see anything special that’s gonna motivate me to save space on my DVR. I don’t think Wilson will like it much, even though he’s probably the target audience being a guy with kids and all.
I’ll try to watch a few more episodes of all these shows, but so far, “The Mindy Project,” is the only one that’s truly won my heart. Besides the great writing, I love that Mindy the character (and Mindy the real person) is not your typical Hollywood leading lady, yet she’s kicking ass because she’s smart and real.
Have you tried any new shows? What’s your viewing pleasure? Tell me in the comments.