Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Archive for the ‘Sitcoms’ Category

“Mad Love”: Premiere Review

Posted by CJ Cregg on February 14, 2011

How I Met your Mother or Mad Love?

The only thing I know about this show is that Sarah Chalke is in it.  Also, Rules of Engagement isn’t on tonight because of the premiere.  But here goes.

First thought? Annoying voiceover.

Jason Biggs plays Ben Parr, who is just about to break up with his girlfriend.  Sarah Chalke plays Kate Swanson, a germophobe.  Tyler Labine plays Larry Munsch, who looks and acts exactly like his name sounds, and is Ben’s best friend. The fourth friend (there’s always a fourth) is Kate’s fiery friend Connie, played by Judy Greer.

The awful girlfriend that Ben has to break up with is awful indeed.  An awful actress.  Also, she thinks ‘taken for granite’ is a phrase, even though the writers beat that joke into the ground.

Ben and Kate drag Larry and Connie along on their first date.  Larry and Connie do have a nice rapport of pretending to hate each other.  It’s a bit predictable, but it is funny.  I don’t really buy Kate and Ben’s dynamic, though.  Kate and Ben’s burgeoning relationship is tripped up because he hasn’t actually broken up with Erin yet.  I’m way more interested in Larry and Connie than Kate and Ben.  Their new relationship is way too perfect, if beset by some bad timing.  Larry and Connie then have to scheme ways to get Kate and Ben back together.

Again, though.  Just like I said with Traffic Light, I’m not really sure what the point of this show is.  It’s not nearly as funny as How I Met Your Mother or as sweet as some of the other sitcoms out there.  Although I have nothing against the pilot, I don’t really see myself needing another ’30-somethings in New York City relationship sitcom’ in my lineup.  Also, Ben is waaaay too much like Ted–super earnest, desperate for love, trying a bit too hard…  Even the bar of choice looks like MacLaren’s.

I think this show has some potential, and it’s cute enough.

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“Mr. Sunshine”: Premiere Review

Posted by CJ Cregg on February 9, 2011

I have high hopes for this show.  Also, ABC has been endlessly promoting it, so I’m ready for the repetitive commercials to stop.

Matthew Perry’s character, Ben, is in charge of San Diego’s ‘Sunshine Center’ arena.  And he is not so sunny.  Or at all sunny, really.  He’s a 40-year-old gloomy Gus who only thinks about himself.  Crystal (Allison Janney) is the absolutely insane and mildly racist owner of the arena.  The Sunshine Center hosts concerts, political conventions, sports games, and special events like circuses.

First crisis!  As a hockey game gives way to a circus performance, the hot water pump is broken and Hurley (from Lost) and his maintenance crews can’t melt the ice.

Second crisis! Crystal’s son Roman (Nate Torrence) needs a job.  Except he has no skills.

Third crisis!  There’s a circus elephant loose in the arena.

Fourth crisis!  Despite Ben’s usual desire to be alone, he decides to pursue more commitment with the marketing director, Alice (Andrea Anders).  Aaaaand she breaks up with him.  So she can move in with his best friend.

Allison Janney handles her light-hearted role fantastically.  She hilariously cruises around the arena’s underbelly in a golf cart, and as we already knew from “The West Wing,” she has fantastic comedic timing.  Nate Torrence is a comedic find with his sunny character and naivete.  He’s amazing as Crystal’s son.  It’s also smart to set a workplace comedy in an arena, which is something new and provides opportunities for interesting crises.

I think this show needs a little bit of time to come into it’s own.  Many shows do, of course.  The pilot was a bit rushed and confused, but I think the talent is here to make this show a good one.  Ben also made a bit too much of a transformation to be believable in one episode, but this show has potential.

Grade: B

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Traffic Light: Premiere Review

Posted by CJ Cregg on February 8, 2011

The trailers for this show tell you absolutely nothing.  I have no idea what it’s about.  Other than some couples or something.

They’re all at different spots in their relationships.  Adam is about to move in with his girlfriend.  Mike has been married to Lisa for six years and has a kid.  Ethan is single-ish.

Our friends live in Chicagoland.  Adam is a journalist with emo kid glasses and an exploitative boss.  Mike is a lawyer who hides from his wife in his car.  Ethan is Australian with a fear of commitment.  These three friends seem to always be having problems with their women, or lack thereof.  There was a fourth friend, Ben, who seems to have just passed away.

For the most part, the characters just talk with each other while driving.  It is kind of cool that they all have cars that have phones in them, I guess.

One of the things that really bothers me about this show is a total battle of the sexes premise.  It’s always girls v. guys.  The characters seem passive aggressive and always scheming to get what they want instead of confronting their significant others like adults.  It’s a sad view of love, really.  In addition, the pilot doesn’t develop the characters of the women: Mike’s wife and Adam’s girlfriend.  They seem to exist just as one-dimensional counterparts to the men.  This could change, but it’s very disappointing in the pilot.

Moreover, the whole young group of friends dealing with love reminds me of How I Met Your Mother but without the charm and lightheartedness.  I didn’t watch much of Better with You which premiered this fall, but this show has exactly the same premise.  And frankly, Rules of Engagement, another show with the same premise is much funnier.  (But I should admit that I’m a closet David Spade megafan.)  I’d watch any of the better love/couple sitcoms over this one.

The show is well-acted.  I’ll give the stars that.  Also, I do love a show that features Chumbawumba’s “Tub Thumping” so prominently.

Why is the show called traffic light?  According to Adam, driving on the freeway is the boring part of the journey.  The fun stuff happens on the side streets where the traffic lights are.  (Basically, it boils down to this: Lisa and Mike are red because they are in a stable relationship and they’ve ‘stopped’ to be with each other.  Adam and his gf are yellow because they’re slowing down to figure out if their relationship is somewhere they want to stay.  Ethan is green, seeking adventure.)

Grade: C

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Comedy Night Done Right – Jan. 20th

Posted by Mr. Feeny on January 20, 2011

My unheralded return to the blogosphere will begin with a new feature. A Thursday night feature. Since NBC is experimenting with a three hour block of comedy (“Comedy Night Done Right”), I thought I’d honor the night accordingly. In case you’re busy on Thursday night, or you’re watching the new Thursday night behemoth, this will be your guide to the best the night has to offer. So, if you only have a half hour on Friday, this will tell you which comedy to watch on DVR or Hulu.

I’ll rank each sitcom, give a little summary (I won’t give a full recap of the episode or jokes, so as not to spoil anything), some great moments, and also tally the laughs. From least to most:  chuckles, laughs, wheezes, and ROFLs. Also smiles, but I figure if an episode’s enjoyable, you’re smiling all the time. So I won’t count those up. I’ll just put (++, +, -, — to indicate good or bad). Obviously, everyone will laugh at different things. But I think it’s a good barometer of the humor.

1. Parks & Recreation – “Go Big or Go Homes” (3.1)

I love the mockumentary style, so it was reassuring to know last year that as The Office started to slip in quality, another show took its place in comic brilliance. But not just that. Parks & Recreation also mastered comedic sentimentality. No sitcom does a better job right now of showing emotion. In this episode alone, there was a fantastic shift between energy and depression by Rob Lowe’s character and we also got a peak into some solid background for Adam Scott’s character and Leslie. And neither those moments, nor the more ridiculous ones (like Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness…don’t ruin his cult hero status by hitting us over the head with it), took away from the constant, subtle laughs. Best show this Thursday, maybe it will be the best all season.

Best Fake Foul Called By Tom: “That’s a foul for touching the basketball.”

Smiles: ++
Chuckles: 11
Laughs: 12
Wheezes:
ROFLs:

2. 30 Rock – “Mrs. Donaghy” (5.11)

When 30 Rock is hitting on cylinders, it’s a joy to sit through. And tonight the hits just kept coming. Not all the plots worked (Tracy thinking he’s going to die only served as another pawn in Jack and Liz’s fight), but the writing was sharp. Just don’t blink, or you migh miss some hysterical drop-in line. I also like that the whole episode played on the fact that Jack and Liz are never romantic possibilities. That’s very rare for two leads in a sitcom. Just great friends.

One of the Best Jokes: Early on in this Liz/Jack heavy episode, Liz apologizes for him getting caught up in another one of “Liz Lemon’s Adventures.” Jack: “My adventures! I am the protagonist!” I love meta jokes. Like when Danny (Cheyenne Jackson) returns after a long absence and Kenneth says “We forgot you work here!” And so much NBC lampooning.

THE Best Moment: Liz pretending to be Jack’s wife by putting on a Kennedy-esque accent and calling a press conference.

Smiles: +
Chuckles: 5
Laughs: 10
Wheezes: 1
ROFLs: 0

3. The Office – “Ultimatum” (7.12)

Let me first say that the order of this line-up is great. Specifically putting The Office before Parks & Recreation. They’re naturally meant to be together. Now, to one of the better episodes of the season. It was just a transitional episode, to get us to a point where Michael and Holly can reunite. But it was laced with several funny gags (mostly regarding resolutions) and also had a heavy dose of Michael’s endearingly pathetic love life.  But the subplot of Darryl, Dwight and Andy was just weird and stupid (a preview of the end of the season? They’re the three in-house candidates for Michael’s job). Still, a solid episode.

Best Moment: Michael coming down to earth and subtly telling Holly that he’s sorry and will make their friendship work. Michael’s non-cartoony moments are his best.

Smiles: +
Chuckles: 5
Laughs: 9
Wheezes: 2
ROFLs: 0

4. Perfect Couples – “Pilot” (1.1)

The only new comedy in the CDNR line-up. My initial reaction: just what TV needs. Another relationship sitcom featuring three couples. Has this been done before? And the opening is the same schtick Better than You (which I like) uses on ABC: how three very different couples handle the same situation. But I’ll tell you what gives me hope about Perfect Couples. It stars one of my favorite and under-appreciated comic actors. Kyle Bornheimer. I loved his half-season comedy Worst Week two years ago. Loved it. So I’ll watch this just for him. And early on, he’s the only one I’m laughing at (and originally, he wasn’t playing this part). There are a lot of recognizable faces. The Waitress from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Double Agent from FlashForward, Lana from Greek. But no one’s as natural as Bornheimer. The material’s not breaking new ground, but as a highly competitive person, I can’t dislike an episode about Game Night. Always comic gold. Also the filming is a more modern upbeat style than many other sitcoms. Good change of pace for NBC. Just like the sentimental music montage at the end.

Best Joke: (cut to) Rex: “What is our best relationship skill?” Julia: “Nobody asked you that…”

Smiles: +
Chuckles: 7
Laughs: 9
Wheezes: 0
ROFLs: 0

5. Community – “Asian Population Studies” (2.12)

My favorite comedy of the season (yes, even more than Modern Family). It’s easily the most inventive show on television (in the first half of the season alone, they did a zombie episode, a space parody, and an entire episode in claymation). But this episode was lackluster. The idea of having a contest to pick a new study group member was solid, but the execution felt rushed. Also, too many previous plots seemed to come together for resolution, as if they wanted to start fresh next episode without any lingering problems. That took out a lot of the humor and made it much more plot-centric than usual. Epitomized by the underutilization of Abed. The ending seemed to indicate this was supposed to be a mock-up of a chick flick (that’s Community‘s gimmick), but it didn’t work. I liked the return of the “Troy and Abed in the Morning” show for the tag, though.

Best Character: Duncan. As he explained how his soberness has changed his sex life. Also, he keeps calling one student “Fat Neal.” Neal: “Neal’s just fine.” Duncan: “Not from an actuarial point of view.”

Guest Stars of Note: Malcolm Jamal Warner (Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show) playing Shirley’s ex-husband/current boyfriend.

Smiles: –
Chuckles: 6
Laughs: 3
Wheezes: 0
ROFLs: 0

6. Outsourced – “A Sitar is Born ” (1.11)

This show got panned when it debuted. And I, too, was initially lukewarm on the concept of a show set entirely in India. But the premise (a call center for novelty gifts) has provided a good background for an Office-Lite show, with zany characters and budding romances. A little heart too. So I’ll keep watching, though it’s not a homerun quite yet. As you can see from the chuckles and not laughs. A fine episode, with a main plot about a singing competition and another about fixing their hold music. Meh.

Best Voice: We heard a lot of them, and I liked Madhuri’s angelic voice. But as a character actor myself, I was also kind of impressed by Parvesh Cheena’s (Gupta’s) purposefully bad singing.

Smiles: –
Chuckles: 4
Laughs: 2
Wheezes: 0
ROFLs: 0

 

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“False Positive”: How I Met Your Mother (S6: E12)

Posted by CJ Cregg on December 13, 2010

Plot Summary: Lily takes a pregnancy test that is a false positive.  Robin reassesses her career choices thinking she’s going to be an aunt.  Barney contemplates how to spend his GNB New Years’ bonus in charitable ways.

What we Learn about the Mother: This category is a false positive.

Best Moment:

When talking to Robin about her potential job offer at Worldwide News versus a game show hosting gig, Ted asks: Have you forgotten your New Years’ resolution?  (Flashback to Robin from January 1, 2010, on the couch and clutching a trashcan.  She groans: I’m never drinking again.)  Ted says: No, before that.  (Another flashback of Robin at the bar waving a bottle of whiskey.  She says: I’m gonna drink this whole bottle.)  Ted: No, before that.  (Another flashback.  Robin tells Ted: By this time next year, I’m going to work at Worldwide News.)

Top 3 Quotes

1) Lily announces to the gang: I’m pregnant.  Barney shrieks: I’ve never seen that woman before in my life.  He runs out of the room, returns a second later, and says: Sorry, force of habit.

2) Barney describes the diamond suit he wants to buy with his GNB holiday bonus.  He claims: It’s the uppest a person could ever suit.

3) Marshall and Lily are off the rails about their ‘pregnancy.’  Marshall says calmly: Don’t freak out.  We have nine months to prepare.  Lily replies: So let’s make a list of everything we have to do before the baby comes, and DO IT ALL TONIGHT!

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“Blitzgiving”: How I Met Your Mother (S6: E10)

Posted by CJ Cregg on November 22, 2010

Who's the Blitz?

Plot Summary: Ted peaces out from MacLaren’s early to be cursed with the Blitz, which is to say, he became the guy that leaves the party early only to have something completely awesome happen the second he’s gone.  The curse of the blitz has now been passed on from Steve (played by Jorge Garcia–HURLEY! from Lost) to Ted. The gang ran into Zoey and had an awesome night with her after Ted left.   But because the shenanigans of the previous night broke Ted’s oven, they all head over to Zoey’s house.  She and Ted actually make up.

What we Learn about the Mother: Nope.

Best Moment: Zoey gets the gang minus Ted to play Truth or Dare in MacLaren’s.  She dares Marshall to send a picture of his junk to a complete stranger.  He takes the picture, and then asks everyone to call out random numbers.  The former Blitz (aka Steve/Jorge/Hurley) is now uncursed and can be there for the fun stuff.  He rushes into the bar and calls out ‘random’ numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.  (SO META!) Marshall sends the pic to 481-516-2342.

Top 3 Quotes:

1) Ted is hosting his very first Thanksgiving, where he plans to make a tur-tur-key-key, which is when you stuff a turkey with another turkey.

2) When Ted has to cancel his Thanksgiving for lack of oven, the gang tells him they could go to Zoey’s.  When he refuses, Robin replies: You violated a dead turkey. With another dead turkey.  Don’t let that be in vain.

3) While they’re at Zoey’s house, Marshall gets a reply from the guy he sent the picture of his junk to the night before.  The guy sends a picture of his own junk.  Lily replies: Wang guy sent you a picture of his wang?  It’s a boomawang!  They then ask Wang Guy if (regarding Zoey and Ted) enemies can ever become friends.  He replies yes and says you have to be the change you want to see in the world.  Steve/Hurley replies: Dude, did Wang Guy just quote Gandhi?

 

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Two Beavers are Better than One

Posted by CJ Cregg on November 19, 2010

Sorry I didn’t post a HIMYM recap this week.  I’ve been swamped.  But for those of you that watched the episode on Monday, you saw Nicole Scherzinger (of Pussy Cat Dolls and Dancing with the Stars fame) guest star as Robin Sparkles’s bff Jessica Glitter.

The gang finds out that the Canadian children’s show they used to perform on is a “veritable pornucopia.”  Which is to say, it is very, very dirty.

When Sparkles and Glitter reunite in the final scene, they perform a heart-rending version of the hit song from the show, Two Beavers are Better Than One.  Here it is.

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“Natural History”: How I Met Your Mother (S6: E8)

Posted by CJ Cregg on November 8, 2010

Perfect acoustics, you say?

This was a hilarious episode.  Even though I hate Zoey and think she needs to be out of the season.

Plot Summary: The gang heads to a blacktie fundraiser at the Natural History Museum courtesy of GNB.  They see Zoey there.  Turns out, she’s married to the Captain, who threw the entire fundraiser.  She vows to continue trying to take Ted down while they share a dance.  Lily and Marshall struggle over Marshall’s continuing employment at GNB.  She thinks he’s sold out and wants him to quit GNB and save the world.  Barney and Robin get caught by museum guards for touching everything.  Barney learns who his father is from an incident in the museum files.

What we Learn about the Mother: Well, something is clearly [re]developing between Ted and Zoey.  But she’s married.  And not the roommate of Cindy/Rachel Bilson, so it ain’t her.

Best Moment:  Lily and Marshall have an intense and very serious discussion about growing up while Ted whispers obscenities from across the room, made possible by the excellent acoustics of the room.  Their conversation is broken up by (well-timed) “boogers” and “wieners and gonads.”

Top 3 Quotes:

1) The gang reminisce about how they’ve changed while they’re all dressed to the nines in the cab on the way to the fundraiser.  Marshall notes that he now wears a suit to work everyday.  Lily replies: Yeah, but you wear it ironically, like Ted’s fanny pack.  Ted says: Next time we go to Great Adventure, you’re carrying your own sunblock.

2) The Captain tells Barney to enjoy the party, but don’t touch anything.  Barney replies: Challenge accepted!  Barney and Robin then feel up an Egyptian guy.  Not a real one, but one of those statue-y things they have in museums.  They got bored of this soon, though, and Robin asks: Wanna go touch a bunch of stuff?  Cue montage of Robin and Barney feel up all the animals.  They drum on a turtle shell and use the lion’s mouth as a bottle opener for beers.  They end up completely dressed up as an Egyptian and a neanderthal.

3) While being questioned by the museum guards, Barney asks the guard about the story of the kid that knocked down that huge blue whale in the atrium to prove to Robin it was actually true.  The guard replies: Yah, that story is legen…wait a second, [his pager rings and he checks it] dairy.

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“Canning Randy”: How I Met Your Mother (S6: E7)

Posted by CJ Cregg on November 1, 2010

Contemplating the wonders of the walk of shame

Plot Summary: It’s Halloween in NYC!  Robin is caught making the walk of shame, and she won’t confess who she slept with (with whom she slept?).  Turns out, she wasn’t sleeping with anyone, but was instead making a commercial for adult diapers.  Marshall refuses to fire his incompetent secretary, who, as it turns out, wants to get fired.  Zoey, the crazy activist from last week, joins Teds class.  She convinces Ted’s students that tearing down the historic building is wrong.

What we Learn about the Mother: Nope.

Best Moment: Ted tells his kids about the Halloween parade he, Marshall, and Barney love.  But it’s not the real Halloween parade.  Instead, it happens on November 1st as girls make the walk of shame home in their costumes.  Their commentary on the parade is great.  Barney says, as a girl in a bee costume walks by: that bee was getting busy.  Ted says: that french maid didn’t turn down somebody’s bed.  Marshall says: Pocahantas has a couple of wounded knees.  Ted and Barney exchange horrified glances and say he’s gone too far.  They then remark that things don’t get better than this.  Until they see Robin making the walk of shame in a nurse costume.  Robin: Ah, crap.

Top 3 Quotes

1) Marshall asks his assistant Randy why the downtown office didn’t get a copy of important contracts.  Randy assures him he sent them downtown.  Then Randy says: wait. Is send them downtown not an expression for shredding them?  Marshall screams: That is not an expression!  That has never been an expression!

2) While debating whether or not to fire Randy, Marshall has a nightmare.  In the dream, after firing him, Marshall asks: where are you headed now? Randy replies: downtown.  And he jumps into the shredder.

3) Randy dreams of starting his own brewery, and making beer with his last name on it: Wharmpess.  (Yup, sounds like warm piss.)

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“Unplugged” (Modern Family – S2:E5)

Posted by Mr. Feeny on October 20, 2010

Modern Family was back in full force this week. Three evenly funny stories. Great performances and one liners. Thank goodness.

Plot Summary: The Dunphys decide to have a one week ban on technology. Gloria tries to quiet a neighbor’s obnoxious dog (leading to tons of great, simple and subtle one liners from Jay). And Cam and Mitch are worried about getting Lily into preschool. (I don’t even think she’s 2 yet, why does she need preschool?)

Best Moment: Phil gets carried away with offering his kids a prize for lasting the longest without technology, even offering Hayley a new car. He’s positive he and Claire can outlast the others. It ends with Claire hugging him and saying “Honey, don’t take this the wrong way, but I have almost no faith in you.” The ending of this story is also great, with Hayley confessing she spent two days talking into a bar of soap.

MVFM: Gloria. Tremendous.

Top 3 Jokes/Gags:

1) The neighbor comes looking for his dog. Jay, suspecting something covers for Gloria, then asks “What did you do?” Gloria: “You don’t want to know.” Jay (to camera): “Gloria’s grandfather and uncles were butchers, so she’s always had a certain comfort level when it comes to…killing. One time we had this rat.” Flashback. Gloria: “What? First you smash it! (hits with shovel) Then you cut the head off! (again, with shovel)Jay: “It was like nothing to her.” Gloria: “I go to church now.” Jay: “She left the head out there to send a message to the other rats.”

2) Gloria: “You really think that I would kill a dog?” Jay: “Well what I was I supposed to think?” Gloria: “I don’t know. How about, I didn’t kill a dog?” Jay: “Just tell me what you did with it.” Gloria: “…He’s in a better place.” Jay: “That’s what people say when something’s dead.” Gloria: “OK, fine. I took him to a farm, where he has plenty of room to run.” Jay: “That’s the second thing people say when something’s dead.” Gloria: “My hairdresser’s brother has three kids, the live in the country, and they were so happy to have the dog that they gave me a jar of pickles. Is that also what they say when something is dead?” …….. Gloria: “Now the dog is happy, Manny can sleep, and we have pickles.” (made this much better by Gloria pronouncing it peeeeeckles).

3) Cam and Mitchell have been told their unique demographics make them desirable for preschools. At the most prestigious, while waiting for an interviewCam: “Do you think they’re going to let us in?” Mitch: “Cam, relax. We’re queer, we’re here.” A woman and her son walk in saying they have an appointment to interview for the opening. Mitch: “Single white mother. Black child.” Cam: “So what? Lily’s Asian, we’re gay. In the school admissions poker game, we’re the winning hand.” An Indian woman in a wheelchair comes in, and she’s introduced as the other woman’s partner. Mitch and Cam are stunned. Cam: “Disabled, interracial lesbians with an African kicker?” Mitch: “I did not see that coming.”

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