Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quick Thoughts on Tuesday Comedy Premieres

Remember when Thursday was supposed to be the big night for comedies?  It was around the same time that "texting" would be something you did on your computer.  It looks like Tuesday is fighting to be the new big comedy night, or at least the night some of the most buzz worthy sitcoms will be premiering.  I felt the buzz, and decided to catch a few.  Much like a bad cold, I'm going to now share it with you.

Ben & Kate:   I remember watching the trailer and thinking, "Yawn, same old premise of single mom trying to look after her child and ends up getting zany person to help her."  It has a premise that has been borrowed from about a billion comedy films and a few sitcoms from the past decade or so.  But then I continued to watch the trailer, and something about it grew on me.  There was chemistry between Ben and Kate, and there just seemed to be the right mix of sweetness and quirkiness.  I knew I shouldn't be interested in this show, but it just seemed to have something.

I can now say after watching the premiere, that this show definitely has an "it" factor.  I go on and on about how a premiere is never a great sign about a show's future quality.  The pilot is about introducing the characters and cramming in the major story arcs for the entire series.  It is always just way too much that needs to be accomplished, and often the writers are still trying to figure out who these characters are.  Ben & Kate is one of those few pilots where I don't see "potential" but rather an already formed great show.  The chemistry between Ben and Kate was really great.  The episode has some really great humorous moments like Ben's detailed strategy of how he was going to crash the wedding, the mention of "bum dialing", Ben's super slow motion three point turn after he was trying to save his sister, and the exchanges between Kate and her friend V.J. (yeah, her name is V.J, and they do go there).

The show also had some really nice and sweet moments.  It was cute when Ben and Kate hid under the table, and he mentioned how she needs him to help raise her child.  You got a few moments where you really believe these two people loved and cared for each other.  I also like that the focus wasn't on dating relationships but rather family relationships.

The show seems to have a nice stock pile of quirky characters.  Ben has a friend that seems to be in love with Kate, but it looks like she puts him two notches below Carrot Top as viable date option.  V.J. offered up a few funny one liners, and will likely bring a certain charm.

I do have to say that they need to be careful, because you can be too quirky.  I ended up finding last year's hit New Girl more annoying than humorous.  I feel there is a chance they could go too over the top with Ben, and I'll just want to punch him in the eyeball every time he is on the screen.  He may get annoying.  They did a good job of making him realistic enough that I didn't tired of his shenanigans, but this was also only the first 30 minutes.  We'll see if I still find him funny after ten or so episodes.

The first episode was really strong, and offered a great story about family and support.  I'm going to trust the writers that they have the right tales to keep both Ben and Kate engaging.

Go On:  Not a premiere, but this show continues to get stronger every week.  This week the main showcased character was the hard assed lesbian who is recovering from the loss of her partner.  She ended up taking Ryan to a wedding with her, as an attempt for this to be the first step towards moving on.  She ended up having great chemistry with Perry, and I really hope this is a character that gets more air time.  I also liked that they were able to get a lot of laughs from the wedding, but they didn't need to resort to any cheap gay humour.  It was just presented as a sexual orientation and not any big deal that needed to be explored or become central for the episode.  The only humour coming from the character being gay would be the Spanish ladies insistence she is dating a man.  I think that handling was quite progressive and helped make it a more enjoyable episode.

Ryan crying over a picture of the sewing machine was stupid.  I obviously can't actually relate to losing my wife, and we don't even have a sewing machine.  Ryan's whole argument was she rarely used the machine, and so I am not sure how he could have suddenly become so attached to it.  Despite that unrealistic moment, I liked how he handled the recovery and I did chuckle about the counselor needing her cry moment. 

The sympathy hockey game was funny, and the second game provided some even better laughs.  Once again, the show did a good job of dealing with serious issues of grief, but also presenting such oddball characters that you can't help but have fun.  Plus Matthew Perry is awesome, and I really am so glad he is back on TV with his witty one liners.

The Mindy Project:  Mindy Kaling is also awesome.  This premiere had some moments of awesome.  It wasn't great as an entire episode.  I felt a few of the characters fell flat, and hopefully, eventually get cut from the series.  Kaling's character was engaging, and say it with me, "quirky".  Yes. I realize I use that word a lot when describing modern comedies.  That seems to be the new thing for sitcoms.  It works here.  I love that fact Kaling is obsessed with romantic comedies, and essentially, sees her life as one big giant romantic comedy.  She tried to create each new date as the one with Mr. Right that will change her life.  Meanwhile, she seems to be oblivious that there is a coworker that it a good fit for her, and the show already dropped hints that this is the relationship we're supposed to be rooting for.  I also loved how she kept dropping references to several classic shows and films, and I'm sure the plan is to appeal to the pop culture geek.  Mindy is essentially playing a tamer version of Kelly Kapoor, but also someone much brighter since she is a doctor this time around.  I do like the fact they're making her a strong and independent women, but also just someone obsessed with romance.  I know a few people like that, but none of them are quite as cute as Mindy. 

There didn't really seem to be a major story for this episode.  Maybe that absence is what stopped me from loving this episode.  I am sure it will just be a matter of finding their groove, because I'm confident this show will become drastically better.

It did have a few really funny moments.  I loved when Mindy was asking the cop if she should be trying to catch rapists and murderers instead, and the cop responded that she was "raping peace and quiet" with her disorderly conduct.  I also loved when Mindy was corrected for calling it a Bruce Springsteen concert when clearly her ignorance was showing since it is a Springsteen show.  And of course, I learned you don't bring a John Cougar Mellencamp t-shirt to such a show.  It may not have been as good as I had hoped, but it offered up some real funny moments.  The best part of the show is Mindy Kaling finally getting s starring role and proving that she deserves to lead her own comedy.  She is not only funny, but willing to poke fun at herself and she has timing that most comic veterans are still missing.  This is also one of the few sitcoms to ever star a female minority, which refreshingly isn't the theme of the show but just a fact.  I am looking forward to the upcoming episodes, which is the whole point of a pilot.

What have you guys thought of the premieres so far? 


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