Friday, October 7, 2011

Networks Debut Girl Power Comedies

Primetime programming is cyclical and situation comedies are hot right now.  The big four network have all busted a new batch and many of them feature strong female leads.  It was not that long ago when nearly are sit coms were darn near unwatchable but the networks seem to be putting more time and effort into them as the sit coms are much cheaper to produce than procedural dramas.  They also tend to do better in syndication and DVD sales.  Here is a look at just a few.

2 BROKE GIRLS (Mondays, 7:30 CST, CBS)

This program with the cherry spot in CBS’ powerful Monday night lineup is probably my favorite and I think it has the most room to grow into something long term.  Its premise is a new take on the odd couple pairing with Kat Dennings as the hard working, blue collar, street-smart girl surviving by plowing away at two part time jobs.  Little known Beth Behrs is a spoiled, naive, well educated, former heiress, fish-out-of-water waif trying to find her way in a suddenly real world.  Dennings and Behrs have good chemistry and play well off each other.  Dennings delivers her lines with acerbic wit and a small, sly, smile.  Her character has little faith in the world or her future.  Behrs is bubbly and optimistic and is fighting to remain upbeat after her fate took a cruel turn.  The supporting cast is in need of upgrades across the board for the program to grow.  The two main characters can certainly drive this show but they need help.  CBS sticks to what they do best with the classic filmed-in-front-of-a-live-studio-audience thing but I’m wondering when CBS will join the new century and break out of this mold.  With some tweaking in the cast, this show is funny enough and likeable enough to survive.  Oh, one more note to the folks who produce this program – lose the horse and the lame laugh track.

SUBUGATORY (Wednesdays, 7:30 CST, ABC)

If you love satirical comedy then Suburgatory is the one for you.  It serves it up by the plateful.  Jane Levy is a teenager being raised by single dad, played by the dry Jeremy Sisto, and is ushered from the bright lights of Manhattan, to the quiet life of suburbia in an effort to save her innocence.  She drops into the fake, plastic world where breast implants and botox are more common than aspirin.  Think Desperate Housewives without the drama.  Levy is funny and witty but I’m not yet sure Sisto can be funny.  Cheryl Hines is a hoot, though, and plays the flirty soccer mom with flair and enthusiasm.  She steals every scene she’s in.  The program has room to grow as the characters around the neighbor are fleshed out.  I laughed throughout the first two episodes and it is a nice fit in between the underrated The Middle and the brilliant Modern Family.  I’ve seen some complaints about the unwieldy title but Subugatory is satirically perfect with a terrific title.

NEW GIRL (Tuesdays, 8:00 CST, FOX)

Zooey Deschanel plays doe-eyed, quirky comedy like her sister plays doe-eyed, quirky drama on Bones.  Her character Jess has a generous degree of naivet√© and general weirdness.  Jess catches her boyfriend of four years sleeping with another woman and moves out immediately but has nowhere to go.  She answers an ad for a roommate and ends up moving in with 3 guys, each with his own set of problems.  A couple of the guys are overplayed, especially Schmidt.  If this show is to survive, the male characters need to be rounded out a little better.  Deschanel’s quirky, crazy, innocent act is sweet and funny thus far, but I’m afraid it will grow stale after a while, especially if the guys’ characters aren’t improved a bit.  Deschanel can carry this program for awhile because she is absolutely is believable as this person so I’m willing to give the show a chance to improve.  You should too.

WHITNEY (Thursdays, 8:30 CST, NBC)

This is by far the weakest of this bunch but not as bad as I thought it would be.  Whitney Cummings seems to be a polarizing person but she is improving week to week as an actor.  The show is supposed to be taken from her life and has shown a bit of promise.  The laugh track seems to be more intrusive than usual, though.  I hate laugh tracks because I don’t like to be told something is funny when it is not.  Let me decide what I think is funny.  The laugh track here seems to go off after every line, regardless at the degree of humor and it is very annoying.  The boyfriend is played by Chris D’Elia and he is the most funny and comfortable cast member.  Again, the supporting cast really seems to be forcing their lines and no real chemistry has yet to be developed.  I would love to see some mass improvement here.  Cummings herself can be very funny so I am willing to giver her a chance to improve her acting.  Remember how bad Ray Romano was the first season of Everyone Loves Raymond?  There is room for a lot of growth here, but I will not be as patient here because the product isn’t as good for me.

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