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Monday, September 26, 2011

2011 Fall Television Season - Week 2 - Pilot Reviews - Sitcoms Part 1

Welcome back to my pilot reviews: 2011 Edition! Today, I'm going to take a look at two of the three new sitcoms that premiered the second week of the Fall Season. One is pretty standard while the other is the worst show ever. The first is better than Up All Night and Free Agents, but it still comes with a few caveats. As such, without further ado, here is the show that kind of made me laugh.

2 Broke Girls: I'm mildly irked that the 2 Broke Girls' creators decided to go with the number 2 instead of the word. All of my alphabetical lists of television shows will forever be ruined.

On the upside, the show wasn't a complete bust. 

I was relatively entertained by what appear to be two very talented lead actresses. What's more, the characters came across as actual people. Max hides behind a wall of insecurities and defense mechanisms, the most important of which is her biting wit, while Caroline isn't your average dumb blond. In fact, Caroline is kind of clever. Sure, she's a former middle class socialite who happens to be incredibly naive and snobbish about the real world, but she carries it with an air of intelligence.

I hope that CBS will one day decide to create a sitcom without the presence of a studio audience; however, I still found myself relatively entertained. I even laughed throughout. 2 Broke Girls is definitely a step up from last week's sitcom premieres.

The Good: The actresses have great chemistry, I love the fairly cliched concept of two very different people becoming  frenemies, and I especially love that the show has somewhere to go. This season has been lacking in television shows with premises that might last longer than one season. The addition of the "Let's start a restaurant" plot plus the "HOW MUCH MONEY DO WE HAVE SAVED TODAY" counter at the end of the episode are fantastic ways to keep the show around for a while yet.

The Bad: Some of the writing needs polishing. The opening sequence with Max berating some rude hipsters fell pretty flat. As did some of the early writing for Caroline. The above-mentioned intelligence didn't actually kick in until maybe halfway through the episode. I can only hope that those were early script issues that worked themselves out by the end of pilot production.

The Wise/Sassy Black Man could also use some retooling. For a show that seems bent on portraying certain female archetypes in a new light, it doesn't seem to be shying away from racial stereotyping. I hope that they make him into a character instead of keeping him around for the occasional zinger.

Verdict: I'm In. On the CBS-specific scale of "As Bad As Two And A Half Men" to "As Funny As Earlier Seasons Of How I Met Your Mother", I'm going to have to give this show a "Somewhere In Between".

Whitney: I went into this pilot with a heavy negative bias. Whitney had been universally panned by all of my favourite television critics, the promos and sneak peeks were terrible, and many of my SpoilerTV friends were predicting cancellation after half a dozen episodes.

Even with all of that prejudice, Whitney somehow managed to slide in below the bar.

I usually like to be facetious in my reviews as I mine the semi-amusing humour of relatively mediocre sitcoms for the purposes of full-frontal mockery; however, that would imply some basic level of entertainment was found in said sitcoms. I don't think I'm going to be able to be funny while discussing Whitney. I am acutely aware of the fact that someone out there feels that this show is their creative brainchild. As such, I feel bad having to rip it apart limb from limb.

The punch lines were predictable, the characters were one-note, and the live studio audience managed to make me cringe more than the average studio audience. And I do not like studio audiences. The person writing the dialogue (Whitney Cummings herself I would imagine) seems to think that shock value alone will win the day. The Simpsons has been doing that for 22 years now. It feels like a failed Friends knockoff from the 90s with acceptably vulgar language from the 00s. And I like acceptably vulgar language. With some talented actors involved (mostly the mother from Malcolm in the Middle), you'd think that SOMETHING would have come out of this, but the only positive thing I have to say is that Whitney Cummings is a very attractive woman.

Verdict: In the immortal words of Janice (Friends): Oh. My. God. I am BEYOND out. I wish I could have those 20 minutes of my life back. I have never struggled this hard to get through something. I cannot believe that NBC decided to make this the show following The Office. On the scale of "DEAR GOD PEOPLE WITH NIELSEN BOXES, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU" to "Positive Criticism", I'm going to have to go gouge out my eyes.

That's all for the sitcoms of Week 2! Hopefully, I'll catch up on the dramas soon so we can discuss Person of Interest, A Gifted Man, Unforgettable, and all the rest.

Earlier Reviews:
Week 1: Up All Night and Free Agents
Week 1: Ringer and The Secret Circle

You can follow me on Twitter: @LostCadence
or else check out my Blog: cadencegtv

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