Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall TV - Pilots

I know this is primarily a book blog, but with my unabashed enthusiasm for television I can't help but give you my opinions on the (many) shows I've seen so far this fall. First up: pilot episodes of brand-spanking-new shows. I ended up watching more pilots than I had planned on and might actually end up watching a couple more.

Here are two things I like and one thing I love: Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and NBC. So of course I was going to tune into the new show Up All Night, in which the two portray new parents struggling to keep being the "cool kids" they used to be. Maya Rudolph, who plays Reagan (Christina Applegate)'s best friend/boss rounds out the main cast and while I don't care much for her character, this show is definitely a winner in my book. It's so much better than the new-parents premise makes it sound. Reagan and Chris are have a cute and hilarious relationship and though it wasn't nonstop laughs, there were more than enough genuinely funny moments (like Chris trying to find cheese "all I can find is the fancy salad bar cheese") and a whole lot of heart to keep me watching. Some of the plots are ridiculous, but also strangely real and believable. Plus, how much do I love that Nick Cannon is in the show? So much. This is the first time I've seen Will Arnett play a sort-of regular character and I'm definitely going to keep watching this show.

I really wasn't planning to watch this show, but iTunes had the pilot as a free download and I figured eh, why not? Plus it has that guy who played David on Friends. Not that I noticed -- my sister had to tell me. But still. ANYWAY. This show sort of flips the romantic comedy on its head with lead characters (one divorced, one whose fiance has died) who have already gotten together and then decided it was the worst idea ever, so of course they're just going to be friends. Because that's going to work! (No. It's not.) It was a lot funnier than I was expecting it to be, mostly because the leads are actually pretty funny together and the surrounding characters are equally as funny, but the romantic aspect seems forced. I'm sure these two will eventually get together, but the fact that they seem to work so good as friends and everything else seems forced makes me think that a lot of the show might seem forced. Still, it was a lot better than I was expecting and though I probably won't keep up with it, I still might watch it when I'm bored.

This seemed promising and I'd heard it was good, so I watched it. UM. I'm sure a lot of people are going to love this show. More than will love a lot of my favorite shows, surely, but it just isn't a show I'm going to be watching. This show relies a lot on crass and sexual humor, which is sometimes funny to me but an overwhelming amount of time it really isn't. I know there were some good jokes here, but I didn't find them funny and on top of that I can't suspend my disbelief enough to really buy into the character of Max (is that her name? The one Kat Dennings plays, with the brown hair). She's great at the role, but the character is hugely rude, sarcastic, and mean, to the point that it felt a bit offensive and I started thinking hey wait, there's no way she can talk like that at her job, to customers and more importantly how the heck do all these other people like her? I mean really. The scene with the hipsters was kind of funny, but more than anything I kept thinking OMG SHE'S SO MEAN!!! And unless there's a compelling reason, I don't like mean characters. And on a side note, there were way too many pop culture references that I just didn't get. So yeah. Not watching this one.

Is there anyone who actively dislikes Zooey Deschanel? No, probably not. I'm not as crazy about her as most seem to be, but the premise of a dorky-cute girl living with three guys was interesting enough to hook me. In most ways this is a typical sitcom, which is to say it's funny but not amazing, there are a few things that really stand out and will ensure I watch the next episode at least, if not the rest of the season. For one thing there are little moments that are just hilarious (the jar, for one). And in spite of the typical sitcom-y situations, the relationships between the characters seem like they're probably going to develop pretty well (or maybe that's me being hopeful). The New Girl's habit of singing her life also reminds me a lot of my sister, so that's cool.

First of all: my sister was right. She told me this show was going to be awful but, I don't know, I kind of thought it might not be? The commercials were funny to me. BUT OH MY GOODNESS, NO. Just, no. NBC, I love you, but this is a fail. As with 2 Broke Girls (also produced by Whitney Cummings), there was a lot of crass humor here. But more than that what put me off the show was the huge reliance on gender stereotypes and being unfunny. That's pretty bold for a sitcom: to rely on not being funny. Just kidding. It tries to be funny, but it just isn't. And as with 2 Broke Girls, the main character is pretty unlikeable. During her rant about how awful and terrible weddings and marriage are I couldn't help but wonder who is inviting this woman to their wedding? Because I sure wouldn't want her at mine. One of my Twitter friends called this show "offensively unfunny" and I kind of have to agree. And the thing is, while I don't think it's aiming for "unfunny," I do think it's aiming to "offensive." I get the feeling that this is the type of show that wants to be so edgy and so offensive because that kind of stuff is funny, but I just don't like shock-value humor and without characters I can relate to at least a little bit I don't stick around. So this is another I won't be watching a second episode of, even if it is on my favorite network. 

Okay, I realize there's plenty of time for this show to go into a horrible downward spiral, but judging by the pilot episode it's fair to say that I love it. I mean, come on! It has aviation/flight and espionage. Plus, it's just so dang pretty. I mean that opening shot of the sky and then the airport with all the Pan Am jets sitting there? Awesome. Right now it looks like the show is probably going to concentrate on a core group of stewardesses and pilots, but there's a mystery aspect that I feel like might become a big thing. The show does a good job of setting up the backstories of the characters and I actually really like all of the characters, which is a major plus. It's definitely a show I'm going to keep watching. 

What do you guys think of the new fall shows, if you watched any of them?


  1. Ugh! I couldn't agree more about 2 Broke Girls. It's awful! I like The New Girl, it's been cute, not amazing or anything but it's fun and makes me laugh. I watched the pilot of Pan Am and was intrigued but I haven't seen the second episode yet.

  2. I've watched 2 episodes of Up All Night so far and I love it! I LOVED Christina Applegate the most, and she shot up several points this year when she guest judged on So You Think You Can Dance!

    Also, I want to be her friend IRL.

  3. I said Whitney was "offensively unfunny!" IT WAS ME, and I stand by it (having watched part of the second episode as well (it was on in the background while I ripped it apart with my friends). Whitney Cummings was due for some backlash, and I guess she's getting it. I'm more concerned with the fact that she's supposedly 28 and cannot move her face.

    I like New Girl, too, although I think it's struggling to figure out what it wants to do.

    Have you watched Suburgatory? It's actually really smart. I think it might be my new favorite comedy this season.

    What a great post! I wish I had thought of it.

  4. Clementine Bojangles
    Re: Whitney: Yes!! I'm saddened and confused by the fact that it's gotten a FULL SEASON.

    Also, New Girl needs to figure out what it wants to be soon to keep me interested.

    I did see the second episode (or was it third?) of Suburgatory but I have to say it really doesn't appeal to me. It's just sort of... meh... at least for me. I wanted it to be really funny but it wasn't to me. I think my favorite new comedy of the season is either Up All Night or Free Agents, which is getting better with each episode so far.