Friday, March 25, 2011

Midseason 2011 New TV Series Capsule Reviews

Once again, I am posting little reviews of TV shows, because why have opinions if you aren't going to blog them? I’ve seen all the new shows since January except Harry’s Law, which for some reason I have not seen but which my mom claims is pretty good, for whatever that’s worth. Here's what I think of the one's I have seen:

Fairly Legal

Premise: Cute legal negotiator negotiates cutely.

Review: Fairly Legal is a cute legal drama whose twist is that the lead is not a lawyer. Instead she’s a negotiator who tries to bring partners to an amicable settlement (a talent she also brings to virtually ever personal encounter). The show is very predictable, with a lead who works pretty much 24/7 to make every case turn out well and the sort of magic bullet wrap up of shows like The Good Wife in which the problem is solved because something is discovered or proven that makes it all black and white. This seems inappropriate for a show about negotiators, who by definition must have to come up regularly with rather messy solutions. But the lead is personable and attractive so what the hell.

Will I keep watching it? Yes, for now.

Mr. Sunshine

Premise: Curmudgeon manages arena.

Review: This is a formulaic but fairly amusing show staring Chandler from Friends as the manager of some sort of arena for sports and concerts and what not. It’s got a solid cast and is decently written, but probably would be a just-miss if not for Alison Janey’s very funny turn as the batshit crazy owner of the arena.

Will I keep watching it? Sure

Traffic Light

Premise: Friends chat on the phone while driving and lie to women.

Review: Traffic Light is a show I instantly disliked from the opening scene of some ex-hipster-looking asshole chatting on his car speaker phone with his buddies. There is something very distasteful about the show, which has this weird “battle of the sexes” vibe that feels like a throwback to comedies of the early 60s. It’s about three guy friends, one just moving in with his girlfriend, one who’s married, or in a long-term relationship or whatever, and one who goes from girl to girl. The first episode focuses on the married guy’s attempts to come up with a warning system for his car’s speaker phone for when his wife is in the car so he can keep his life secret from his wife, who is far smarter and nicer than any of the guys. That episode ended with this weird sappy speech at a funeral that came out of nowhere even though it gives the series it’s title.

The annoying thing is, it’s a pretty funny show, which has kept me watching it. Some of the battle of the sexes stuff is quite clever. The footloose fellow always cleans his apartment of all traces of women after they’ve stayed over out of fear they’ll move in lipstick by lipstick. When his current girl asks about the toothbrush she left that he threw out, he feigns ignorance. She keeps searching, and then suddenly says, “oh, here it is” and holds up a toothbrush, and of course he can’t say anything even though he knows she snuck it in. It’s really quite funny, even though the premise is unpalatable.

Will I keep watching it? Yes, until one episode isn’t funny and then forget it.

Perfect Couples

Premise: Three couples who are friends do couply and friendly stuff.

Review: Perfect Couples is Traffic Light’s opposite in terms of showing relationships. Here you have three couples, one tempestuous, one normal, middle-of-the-road type and one just odd couple in which the wife in one episode decides her husband needs a “man cave” where he can express his masculine side. This shows a more nuanced version of the battle-of-the-sexes concept, in which sometimes the guys might want to hide something, or get away with something, or in some way conspire with the other guys, but just as often work alongside their partners. It’s like real world politics in which alignments can shift depending on the objectives. Also, unlike Traffic Light, the characters are all very likeable and real. And it’s funnier than Traffic Light.

Will I keep watching it? Absolutely

Lights Out

Premise: Boxer loses career, joins a collection agency.

Review: It’s like most shows on the FX network, something that seems pretty intelligent and well done that I just can’t get into.

Will I keep watching it? No.

Mad Love

Premise: Couple falls in love at first sight and takes it from there.

Review: Mad Love is going to make me mention Traffic Light one more time, simply to say that it too is an opposite of that show, but in a different way. Because while Traffic Light is funny but unpleasant, Mad Love is likeable but not particularly funny. It follows a young couple falling in love assisted or opposed by their “wacky” friends. It is very formulaic, and kind of dull, but also kind of sweet. That makes me hope it succeeds even though I’ve stopped watching it.

Will I keep watching it? Naw.

Bob’s Burgers

Premise: Guy runs a burger place with his family.

Review: This show is somewhat reminiscent of Dr. Katz, with the same shaky animation and skewed, sardonic humor. It’s not as funny as Katz was, but it’s funnier the also-similar Home Movies.

Will I keep watching it? Sure, why not.


Premise: Brilliant British sitcom is remade Hollywood style.

Review: I enjoy series like The Larry Sanders Show that mock Hollywood, and Episodes does it very well. The series revolves around a couple who created a successful, admired British sitcom and is lured to Hollywood where their vision is compromised at every turn and their lives fall apart. Funny and clever, with a biting wit and a lot of hostility towards Hollywood phonies, which according to this show means pretty much everyone.

Will I keep watching it? Absolutely.

The Cape

Premise: Some sort of superhero crap.

Review: I watched a little of this. Some guy has a cape that makes him a superhero or something. Aims for a gritty, tough thing, just achieves being dark and lifeless. Didn’t make it through the pilot. I really like superhero stories, but Hollywood’s attempts to recreate the success of Heroes have foundered horribly.

Will I keep watching it? No. I don’t even know if it’s still running.


Premise: Drunk dad, precocious kids, something like that.

Review: Watched about half of the first episode. It seemed decent, but I just couldn’t get into it.

Will I keep watching it? Naw.

Off the Map

Premise: Gray’s Anatomy in the jungle.

Review: I didn’t see the premiere and only wound up watching this when I was looking for something to watch on my girlfriend’s free-tv-on-demand station. It’s something about doctor’s working in a little town in some foreign place. I’ve seen a couple of episodes, and you know, it’s kind of decent. Although since I haven’t watched the episodes sequentially, I’m not sure who anyone is or what’s going on.

Will I keep watching it? Maybe.

Being Human

Premise: Vampire, ghost and werewolf become roommates.

Review: I watched the first season of the British version of this series, which was quite good, even though I lost interesting in the second season. Much of what made the show good were the appealing leads, a conflicted vampire, nerdy, depressed werewolf and hot, charming ghost. Unfortunately, the cast in this one is markedly blander, with only the ghost offering any personality. I watched one episode and that was it.

Will I keep watching it? Nope.

The Chicago Code

Premise: Chief of police and friend cop battle corruption.

Review: This was decent, but after two episodes I felt like the show was already running out of steam. To be fair though, I don’t think I’ve stuck with a dramatic cop show for more than a few episodes for years.

Will I keep watching it? No.