Returning Shows Worth Watching and The (New) Daily Show

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Too cute to fail?
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Ms. Kristen Schaal

It’s very hard for me to let go of Jon Stewart. As a lactose-intolerant 50-something Jewish liberal from the East Coast, I felt truly represented by him. I knew it was going to be a stretch for me to switch allegiance to a smoking hot millennial from South Africa (see above). What do I have in common with Trevor Noah? What does he know about American politics — and why should I care what he thinks about our politics anyway?

And his first night was rough. At times I felt like he was doing an impression of Jon Stewart. I was offended when he explained what the Speaker of the House of Representatives does. Does Comedy Central think the audience has dumbed down overnight? Noah’s first interview (with Kevin Hart) was missing the questions part, but I was raised on Dick Cavett, the Prince of Interviewers, so my standards are very high.

But by night two, Noah was already finding his footing. His interview with a woman who heads up a Sadie Hawkins-style dating app was utterly charming. Roy Wood, Jr., one of the new correspondents, actually cracks me up. Most importantly, Noah seems to be using his own voice finally and it’s a smart, funny one. I have high hopes.

Returning Shows With Gas Left in the Tank

  • The Middle, Modern Family’s under-appreciated lead in show, has found a fun new vein to mine. The parental nest is empty with Eden Sher’s delightful character off at college, because they have decided to ignore Brick, their youngest. To be fair, he is entering 8th grade — a year the show accurately points out is better ignored anyway. Somehow they manage to walk the line between child abuse and amazing parenting — just as we all do in real life!

    The Middle's Charlie McDermott and Eden Sher
    The Middle’s Charlie McDermott and Eden Sher
  • Awkward, a teen show on MTV with an appealing edge I have always loved, continues to come up with great storylines. It can’t be easy to keep things fresh when writing about high school kids, given how repetitive my personal traumas were at that age. Kudos to them. (In a related note, the hilarious actress who played their guidance counselor has run off to be a new correspondent on the Daily Show.)
  • The Last Man on Earth has possibly the toughest concept to keep going past a single season. Will Forte, who writes and stars in it, has postulated that everyone is dead of a virus. As the last living human, he can use a gun to open doors and decorate his house with art from every museum on earth. Anyone who has tried to write a play knows you need at least three actors to create “conflict” but Forte bravely introduced people sparingly and waited to run credits until the end of each show so he wouldn’t spoil the surprise. I continue to be pleasantly surprised at his clever plotting and I love comedian Kristen Schaal, his co-star (and a former Daily Show correspondent). I’m in.

Stalled Out

  • Castle was always badly written if I’m honest, but the two-part season premiere scaled new heights of bad. It literally felt as if it were cobbled together from previous episodes. I love me some Nathan Fillion, but maybe even I have to draw the line somewhere?hot-nathan-fillion-photos
  • Doctor Who. Every season, I have waited for them to run out of story. I’m sad to report, it finally happened. They have been pulling new ideas out of their butts, year after year. The butts have now run dry. Though I’m only judging by the first two eps of the new season, they were as tasteless and limp as fish fingers left too long in custard. (If you didn’t get this reference, you don’t care about the Doctor anyway.)
  • I was wrong about Longmire in my earlier post. Now that I’ve seen all 10 episodes, I’m happy I don’t have Netflix. It was that bad. I’m most offended that the female characters have been reduced to crying cartoons. What were they thinking?

There’s too much good new TV for me to waste another minute on these losers. New shows reviewed soon!

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I Watched the Emmys So You Didn’t Have To

You’re welcome. It was the 4 hours they predicted it would be so I really did you a solid.

Click here for the final results but I have hit the highlights for you:

Viola Davis’ Harriet Tubman speech. Watch that and try not to cry. I dare you.

Amy Schumer’s show winning Outstanding Variety Sketch series. Yay! Richly deserved. amy-schumer-01-435And in a side note, in spite of the obvious pressure on many ladies’ strapless mermaid-style gowns, there were no malfunctions that I noticed tonight. I was on tenterhooks because I know that double-stick tape and extreme heat don’t mix.

Brava to this hilarious female and her plucky tape.

–Another moment that made me tear up was when Tracy Morgan came on stage, miraculously walking again after the accident that almost took his life. And then proceeded to be alive, walking, and hilarious, making fun of himself quite deftly. CPZdZ5ZVAAAP_Sf

–Yes, they finally acknowledged Jon Hamm’s work in Mad Men (glad they did) but he seemed sort of out of it during his speech so my enjoyment of that moment was marred.

And what’s with all the love for Veep? I do like Julia L-D (who doesn’t?) but I’m not wild about the Brits who don’t know jack about American politics who write her show.

Parks and Recreation, that most authentically American of confections, deserved a final, posthumous reward in Veep’s stead. To my mind, the lack of props for Parks and Rec’s well-crafted plots that had both heart and hilarity was pure snobbery on the part of the academy. Sadder than the death of Lil Sebastian and twice as unnecessary!

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Cowboys and Muppets

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credit ABC

The Muppets are coming back — and they’re going all mockumentary on us this Fall.

If the trailer is anything to go by, this will be a good thing. Watch the trailer here (or on Comcast if you’ve got it):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfJkusicBa4

This photo, which I took from ABC’s website, shows Kermit and his new girlfriend. What can he say? He’s attracted to traif. How long do you think Ms. Piggy is going to permit this new relationship? We all have to tune in to find out.

I am opposed to TV you have to pay for. Television wants to be free, like the air, but when they cancel yet another of my favorite shows on a cliffhanger, and then Netflix is thoughtful enough to pick it up, I then go to someone’s house who has Netflix while they are out of town and watch TV with their cats.

Courtesy A & E
Courtesy A & E

I’m talking about Longmire, back for a 4th season on Netflix after A & E dumped it because the viewers were too old. (Thanks for that A & E — although seriously thanks for the photo, which I cadged from your website.)

From what I can tell from one and a half episodes, this TV Western still has the chops. There are enough twists and great moments to keep me entertained. But that extra ten minutes that Netflix allows and TV with commercials does not….Well, I gotta be honest, they do cause some drag.

When the connection pooped out on me halfway through the second episode of season 4, I bid the cats goodnight and gave up.

You can’t compare a one-hour drama with a half-hour sitcom, but I’m going to anyway. When I lost signal on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt while binge watching, I was BUMMED. They originally shot those for NBC so they cut the fat, if there ever was any. Too late for this advice to Longmire since all ten episodes appear to already be on Netflix, but everyone else take heed! If TV writing gets bloated like feature films (more than 2 hours is too long for a movie. It’s not  Lawrence of Arabia, freaking cut it!), we are going to be unamused.

It’s the BEST — “You’re The Worst” is Back

11216253_502067249970726_812659360725671212_nThis is less of a post and more of an alert.

You’re the Worst is back for another season and if their first ep of Season 2 is any indication, this season might be even funnier than their first season (which was very, very, very funny).

The way they describe the show on IMDb makes it sound awful:

“Centers on two toxic, self-destructive people who fall in love and attempt a relationship.”

See what I mean? I would hate that show. The show I’m in love with is a hilarious, sort of realistic, look at what self-involved, hyper-witty people do when no one is watching.

I want to quote every single line from tonight’s episode but most of them are obscene. And yes, I’m probably inclined to like this show because it’s about a publicist and a writer and I’m both of those things.

Also, I’ve become a huge fan of Kether Donohue. I love that her name is Kether. I love that she’s hysterically funny. I love that she has real cleavage made from actual breasts — which is so rare on TV you can count it on one hand.

Just watch the freaking show. If you hate it, I’ll give you your money back.

Sitcoms That Calm

Hot Jews Have Their Own Show!
Hot Jews Have Their Own Show!

While you are waiting for the season finale of Mr. Robot (postponed because life keeps imitating fiction — I’m not going to spoil it by saying how), watch something that won’t give you nightmares.

May I suggest the following comedy shows? Like my beloved Playing House, they aren’t going to set anything on fire but if you like watching Louie and then feeling that you need to maybe kill yourself, that’s your deal. (Full disclosure: Of course I watch Louie. I’m not an animal. But afterwards, I usually feel pretty bad and that’s not why I watch TV. I can feel bad on my own.)

Comedies That Don’t Hurt:

  1. Impastor. I love this new show on TVLand. The premise makes it sound racier than it is: A small time hood sort of accidentally murders a gay Lutheran pastor and steals his life. The reality is that Michael Rosenbaum has the kind of face where you’d be happy to let him murder you. It’s the eyes. Plus, this show features Sara Rue (neé, Sara Forbes Schlackman) a stellar comic actress who is gorgeous without looking as if she’s barely survived a recent famine. Which means this show stars two of the hottest Jews on TV. An added bonus if you care about such things. Speaking of racy, you have to stream the opener of the latest ep because TVLand freaked out and cut a sex scene that shows Rosenbaum’s naked bum. And cutting the scene renders most of the plot of ep 7 senseless.
  2. Kevin from Work. Skip the pilot and start watching around ep. 2. That’s when the cast starts to gel and you get to meet more astoundingly hilarious characters, such the lead’s sister and his stalker — both hysterical comic actors. Not to be sexist, but in spite of the man-centric premise (A guy tells his work crush he loves her because he thinks he’s moving…then doesn’t), this show is so much more than that thin logline because it’s helmed by a woman. The female characters, even the Beloved from work, are fully drawn human beings. The best laughs always ensue when they are organic and come from fleshed out characters tormenting each other, the way we do in real life.
  3. Vicious. Season 2 is here and it’s a kinder, gentler season, according to the creators. It’s just a bit of fluff in the British tradition of silly sitcoms but why not? I’ve only seen ep. 1 of Season 2 but I’m finding it even more enjoyable than Season 1. If you can forget the utter predictability and revel in getting to watch these venerable thespians romp, you will too.

Some That Do Hurt:

  1. Lest you think that I will watch any old cheaply-made sitcom with a hot guy on it (see Impastor, above), I am giving a firm thumbs down to Significant Mother. I tried two different times, two different episodes, and it is beyond awful. Skip it.
  2. It pains me to say this because NOBODY loves Jim Gaffigan as much as I do, except maybe Mrs. Jim Gaffigan. I think his work is fantastic.  I have literally seen his bit about hot pockets over a dozen times because I’m incapable of turning off the TV if he’s on it doing stand up. Even though I have seen him say it over and over, I still die laughing when he says “hot pockets” in that voice. And almost nothing makes me laugh. I’m obsessed with comedy, but I’m a bad laugher. I appreciate when something is well-written or a joke is clever, but I’m physically incapable of laughing at most things. Jim Gaffigan just gets me — every time. But his show doesn’t. I can’t explain it. I like the way they eat at Katz’s Deli (my favorite deli on earth). I love that comedians pop up on there all the time. I even like the actor who plays his wife. But it’s not working for me. I even had to turn off one of the eps before it finished.
  3. Blunt Talk. Jonathan Ames’ Bored to Death was good fun so I tried. I want to like this show. I love it when people make fun of Hollywood and who doesn’t love Patrick Stewart out of character? Me apparently. I find this show unwatchable and I have tried more than once because you can’t judge a show by the pilot. There’s too much pressure to stuff all of the backstory into a pilot which can ruin the balance.

Fall TV — Too Soon

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Playing House be Bangin’!

In this new bizarro world, there are End of Summer shows that premiere before we get a real sniff of the Fall Lineup.

If you’re a fan of the Walking Dead, you are probably excited about Fear the Walking Dead. Good for you. I claim to dislike zombies except I got hooked on iZombie — which to be fair to me, is very “Zombie lite.”

Who knew that chick was a Kiwi? How is it that they can do American accents perfectly while poor Ewan McGregor can’t even do Received Pronunciation without sounding like his tongue hurts? If you don’t believe me, go back and watch him trying to play Sir Alec Obi Wan in the films and feel my pain.

But if you’re me (and I am) you can’t wait to check out Documentary Now from Fred Armisen and Bill Hader. Click on the title above and you can actually watch the first ep. now.11899909_720059681457054_4302371655160332594_n

Or wait and watch it on TV like a human being! I hate watching things on a computer and my rant about my Chromecast useless device is a whole other post.

What to Watch This Week

— Binge on Mr. Robot. It will make you paranoid (taping over the camera on your laptop is just the beginning) but you won’t be sorry.

–Ditto HUMANS but alternate it with episodes of Dates, not just because it’s fun to see poor Gemma Chan go from bullied android to bullied lesbian and Moriarty with his shirt off, but because freaking British actors just kill it. No matter how silly or painful the subject matter (or low the production values — “Dates” I’m talking to you), they make it worth your while.

Moriarty!
Moriarty!

Playing House. I just can’t say it enough. This is one of my favorite shows of all time. It hits me in all my spots. Women being funny. Keegan-Michael Key doing anything. Female friendship. Etc. Their new season started and they are doing a funky thing with on demand and advertising. No, they won’t let you fast forward the commercials but the real commercials mostly consist of “advertorial” performed by the leads with a light touch. Also, the second season of this show so far could be considered a tutorial on how to add a baby to your cast without ruining everything. Or how to be funny and real at the same time. Or how to have women who are attractive but look like actual women on television. I could go on. I won’t.

Tune in next week (or maybe sooner) for more of my sage, TV advice.