I’ve been giving the midseason shows a few weeks to digest before I pass judgement on them. Now that I’ve had a heaping helping, I think I’m ready.
I did not have high hopes for this series, which may be why I love it so much. It manages to be funny, disturbing and sweet all at the same time. Bob, his wife Judy and their children Helen, Louise and Gene all run a family burger business at some wharf-side town. The kids are kooky and funny, the wife is a bit of a nag (or as Bob calls her “The Secretary of Nagriculture”) and the supporting cast pops in and out just enough to ensure you can’t remember anyone’s name.
Part of the fun for me is catching the name of the Burger of the Day on the chalkboard in the restaurant. It is always some really bad pun and as often as not Louise, the younger daughter who always wears bunny ears, will change it to something better (or at least funnier). This is a great addition to Fox’s animation lineup on Sundays if for no other reason than it isn’t another Seth McFarland series. I hope it sticks around for a while.
This is another in a long line of “pack-o-pals” shows. The conceit of this one is that the three men interact with each other via the cell phones in their cars as much as face to face. There was some mumbo jumbo in the pilot about the traffic light being a metaphor for life, but I didn’t pay it much attention. The three guys are Mike, a married lawyer with a toddler; Adam, who just moved in with his girlfriend; and Ethan, a British cad who has a new girlfriend every week.
The writing is clever, but they’re not breaking any new ground here. How often can you listen to dudes complain about their relationships? It was airing right after “Raising Hope” on Tuesdays, but Fox has moved it to Wednesdays after “American Idol.” I’m not sure if the shows both appeal to the same audience.
NBC must have high hopes for this series to squeeze it into an extremely packed Thursday night line up (“Community” “Perfect Couples” “Parks and Recreation” “30 Rock” “Outsourced”). It is also a pack-o-pals show in which two of the three couples are married and the third is engaged. I have high hopes for it because it has Olivia Munn in it. There are some interesting dynamics at play and the show is funny, but I get a little uncomfortable watching these characters screw up what should be mundane situations. It frustrates me that Dave just doesn’t tell Vance to get the hell away from him.
The big difference between this and “Traffic Light” would be that the women in this show get equal time with the men. That and no kids. Both shows make me feel old, somehow.
Another pack-o-pals show that focuses on a new relationship between blonde doctor from “Scrubs” and the nerd from several of the “American Pie” films. His best friend is the funny fat friend from “Reaper” and the fake dad from “Sons of Tuscon.” Her best friend is the crazy secretary with cockeyed nipples from “Arrested Development.” The writing is funny, but I’m tired of shows that try to “explore relationships” in funny, clever ways. Blonde doctor (who was also the replacement Becky on “Rosanne” for a year or so) is quirky and neurotic; pie nerd is affable and tries too hard; his best friend is a quick-witted ham-fisted oaf and her best friend is a quick-witted sharp-tongued witch. I’m betting it doesn’t get picked up for season two.
I like Kathy Bates and I hope that she finds herself a good series to lead someday. “Harry’s Law” isn’t it, but there are some good things about it. I like the recurring character of Tommy Jefferson, but I think if he and Denny Crane were to meet in an elevator, there would be some sort of rupture in the space/time continuum. I’m just not sure the current weekly plot line of how much Harry doesn’t know about the disadvantaged denizens of her neighborhood is going to hold out. She’ll win an Emmy.
The Chicago Code
I like Jennifer Beals and I’m hoping this works out for her. She plays Teresa Colvin, newly appointed superintendent of police for Chicago. She worked her way up the ladder quickly because she grew up watching her father pay off crooked city officials and criminals which drove his hardware store out of business. The action is great and the story engaging. Her enforcer is Det. Jarek Wysocki, who is one of these tough cops who doesn’t take any guff (I picture Homer Simpson yelling at the TV “He gets results you stupid chief!”). He’s got a young partner and the three of them are going after the big crooked Alderman Ronin Gibbons (wonderfully and evilly portrayed by Delroy Lindo).
I picked this up on a whim and I’m glad I did. It’s much better than some of the other offerings like . . . uh . . .
If you’re still watching this series, I wouldn’t get too attached. The effects are good, but the characters are ridiculous and no one cares.
That’s about it for the networks. There are some good series on cable that I’ll get to next time. If you’re looking for something good to watch, I recommend “Lights Out” and “Justified” on FX, both are very engaging in very different ways.