Suburgatory/The New Girl/Whitney
ABC is determined to pwn Wednesday nights. Check this lineup: The Middle, Modern Family, Happy Endings and now this snappy new comedy from Warner Brothers Television.
Suburgatory features single parent George Altman (Jeremy Sisto) an erstwild architect who finds a box of unopened condoms in his teen daughter's possesion, freaks, and packs her up to move from NYC to the 'Burbs where he thinks she won't be subjected to bad influences. You're kidding, right? Can anyone really be this legtimately stupid? Besides having no clue about how sexually active teens in the suburbs are, he is lost as to how to raise said daughter Tessa (Jane Levy) during these difficult years of young adulthood. Tell me why all adults in these shows are fundamentally clueless. No wonder this country is in the crapper - the once smart and hip kids somehow grow up to be stupid adults. How will we ever get ahead?
So they move, weird neighbors, country club where the men are orange and the women are all MILFs, school, etc. The end of the 1st act. More to follow after commercials including the cast of broadly-drawn friends. Including regulars Allie Grant, Alan Tudyk and Cheryl Hines who wants to be bed Sisto.
A lot of over-reaches and cliches but the writing is sharp at times and some of the scenes at the high school are handled very well as Tessa (Levy) is shown the ropes by perennially texting and bored and affected teen, Carly Chaikin. Scenes of the "girls" shopping and the subsequent fallout were both funny and sweetly handled. Tessa may act like a disapproving hipster but the writing and acting infuse her with shades that allow you to see that she's vulnerable and a bit lonely and lost. Tough girl with a facade.
Sisto, the poppa, was good on the last few seasons of "Law and Order" but he's better here as a sometimes clueless dad and bachelor on the hunt.
I also loved seeing the talented Allie Grant who did a great turn in "Weeds" as Isabelle Hodes, the slightly overweight daughter of Elizabeth Perkins. She's a terrific actress and although her part is a bit under-developed yet I have a feeling she's gonna rock.
Emily Kapnek and Patricia Breen are the veteran comedy writers/show runners who create an over-bleached and oft-times funny portrayal of the upper-middle class world Tessa has been thrown into. The main difference between this and other shows is that both Tessa and her father are both the fish out of water and it's not so much teens against adults as the East Coast vs The West Coast.
I enjoyed this show more than I didn't and probably will just just slam it into the entire Thursday-night lineup on my Season Pass and watch them in descending order of like: 1) Modern Family, 2) The Middle, 3) Happy Endings and 4) Suburgatory. I'm hoping that as the writers and cast get more comfortable with the characters that it will improve.
As mentioned, this is an ABC Wednesday night
Dear, The New Girl - my advice: stop trying so bloody hard. Stop trying so hard to be quirkly, and uber-hip and just let the situations more define the comedy instead of...oh hell. All right. It's not great but it's not bad and it's sweet at times.
And I'm probably not gonna care that much if they fix the problems or not because although I like it, I don't like it enough to invest in it.
Zooey Deshanel is a quirky chick who needs a place to live when her long-term boyfriend cheats on her. She answers an ad for an apartment with three dudes who need a fourth roommate and they choose her after a meeting in the bathroom (see what I mean about trying too hard?) She sings, she makes up her own theme songs, and she's terminally adorable. They're various shades of male pigness and stupidity - of course - hilarity ensues.
This show never feels effortless like say "Modern Family." It always seems to struggle to make its comedic point and I'm not sure if it's the acting, directing or writing that isn't quite gelling - perhaps all three. It appears as if Zooey is given her head to improv stuff and though she's talented enough as an actress, I'm not sure she is talented enough to carry a show on her very attractive back yet. Cute - hell yes. Funny - not always.
The pilot was *a lot* better than the second ep which I had to watch out of sequence because my Tivo betrayed me. Had I not watched the pilot to write this review I would have had a different opinion. The 2nd ep is not that funny or charming or amusing or - anything close to the pilot and for some reason - probably because "Happy Endings" got picked up, Damon Wayans Jr. isn't in the second episode. Another man is (Lamorne Morris.) Mr Morris is good but nowhere as charismatic as Wayans, Jr. and the effect was to further dilute the effort.
So it's Zooey, the afore-mentioned Morris and a one time shot for Wayans, and the two other roommates who are Max Greenfield and Jake M. Johnson. All are pretty good but the sex-crazed egomaniac (Greenfield) just is too much of too much. Dial him back from 11 and let him roam at the 7-8 range and that will help - a lot. Johnson is good though and he's a solid foil for the quirky and perky and beef jerky Deshanel.
Hannah Simone plays Zooey's friend Cece; I predict huge things for her - she is stunningly beautiful and has a silky, totally natural acting presence. When she was on the stage I couldn't look away. More of her, please - actually just give her own show now and I'm good.
Jake Kasdan directs and Elizabeth Meriwether creates and writes. Fox is the channel to find it (for a while) on Tuesday nights.
Whitney is the brainchild of comedienne Whitney Cummings who is funny and sexy. She's been on a few Comedy Central Roasts and done a few standup specials and this is her and her TV boyfriend living large and being clever and funny.
It's a decent show and Cummings seems at ease, natural, and to be really enjoying herself. But if you don't like Cummings you won't like this show at all. I do like her and it's still a tossup. Enjoyable but I don't think I'm gonna be watching it on a regular basis. I just don't think the show itself distinguishes itself enough to last. It's really missing an identify, something to set it apart.
Funny couple share their lives. Now what?
I couldn't tell you for certain if the pilot was about anything important or interesting although I do vaguely remember Cummings looking hot in a nurse outfit - sex games or something...yeah. And the BF hurts himself role playing and has to go the ER. Or something.
I think Cummings will find a home on TV - just not sure this is it.
Whitney also stars Chris D'Elia and Rhea Seehorn.
Thursdays on NBC.