When we ordered cable for the new place we all decided to stick with the basic package. I can’t lie to you, my life feels just a little bit emptier without the Food Network, but in all honestly, basic cable has all we really need: sitcoms and the Mentalist.
It seems like every year, for the past two or three, major networks are cranking out an increasing number of sitcoms. Being a funny kinda girl, I love this, and I’d watch Mindy Kaling be a hilarious gyno over any reality TV show ever. I’m a sarcastic nerd, perhaps this isn’t terribly surprising. This year, I’ve test-driven a bunch of new shows available on basic cable. Read on for the recommendations!
This show got quite a bit of buzz before even hitting the airwaves and not all of it positive. It’s a bit of a tricky show – both simultaneously funny and occasionally off-putting. Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green have good chemistry and great comedic timing, but when they crack jokes about their dads who have just each moved in with them, they come off as ageist. Other jokes come off as sexist, and some even are racist. These sort of jokes work so much better in cartoon format (creators Seth MacFarlane and Alex Sulkin also brought us Family Guy) because they come off as parody, but in this form, they made me feel kind of uncomfortable. I’d pass on this show, and instead, catch Mom.
Anna Faris is a newly sober single mom, trying to raise her two kids on her waitress salary. Her mum, also newly sober, and also incredibly hilarious, played by Alison Janney, comes to town and hilarity ensues. It’s all really about not wanting to turn into your mom, and then realizing two kids and a drinking problem later, that you already have. Where Dads comes off as crude, Mom has a bit more heart. The characters are warmer, and being a big fan of Janney, I’d recommend catching an episode.
The Crazy Ones
ROBIN WILLIAMS. (I think that might be all the recommendation I need to give.) He’s back, and adlibbing up a storm in this father-daughter comedy about marketing execs. Also back is Sarah Michelle Geller, who sort of pales in comparison to Williams, but honestly, I fail to see how anybody, ever, could outshine that man. He’s like the energizer bunny on speed. I think my favourite thing, apart from watching Williams improvise and his cast-mates struggle to keep straight faces, is Hamish Linklater’s character. It’s essentially the same character as in The Adventures of Old Christine, but if it ain’t broke…
The Michael J. Fox Show
Ah MJF. He makes a return to TV playing the funny, affable man we all love: himself. While the role probably isn’t a big stretch for Fox, it’s lovely to watch him and his gentle, oft self-deprecating, humour. The show feels comfortable and kind of like a more realistic Modern Family, and I really love it.
In the spotlight
Super Fun Night
No longer the hilarious supporting actress, Rebel Wilson stars in her very own sitcom. While I wish she had kept her Aussie accent (it sort of seems like the American one she’s putting on is throwing off her comedic timing), it’s wonderful to see this funny girl get her chance to shine as a lead, rather than outshine her lead as a supporting character. The humour is classic Rebel Wilson: self-deprecating and embarrassingly relate-able, and laugh out loud funny. It remains to be seen if the characters are engaging enough to carry a sitcom, but for now, I’m liking it.
Also starring in his first sitcom is Andy Sandberg in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a cop comedy. Of course Sandberg is hilarious, but I think the very best thing about this show is how it takes cop drama conventions and subverts them. It shows that a clever cop show doesn’t have to be all about bicep, a la Criminal Minds or Hawaii Five-0 (not that bicep is a bad thing…). Unlike Chuck which blends action and comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine focuses more on funny situations, but it has a great cast, and is definitely worth watching.
If I missed any other great fall premiers, it’s likely because we just don’t get that channel. Drop me a comment and I’ll see if I can find it online – I’m always one for a good comedy.
~ Julia Maurice Sabre-Ocean
p.s. In the beginning I mentioned that basic cable gives me all I really need: sitcoms and the Mentalist. Well, I’d like to take this opportunity to say HOLY FLYING POO, the Mentalist is intense this season! Lord it’s good. If you’re not watching it, I feel sad for you.