Sunday, October 10, 2010

Comedy Corner for week of Oct. 4 : Sitcom Spirtuality

Continuing my new genre/format driven TV review style, here are some thoughts on last week's comedies, featuring three very different shows exploring three very different takes on religion/spirituality.


How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 7:00): I have to agree with Matt Roush's review:  the "Where's the poop?" phrase wore out its welcome incredibly quickly.  I had no problem with the concept of Lilly being able to ascertain with a look if Robin had misbehaved, but the phrase chosen to convey the idea was unfortunate to say the least.  I did enjoy Barney's attempts to woo Ted through his usual pick-up moves.


Glee (Fox, 7:00):  Went back and forth on whether to classify this as a comedy, drama, or other, but since the aspects of the show I enjoy the most are the comedic ones, that's where it finally wound up.  As for this episode, despite it being in many ways a step up over the first two episodes of the season, I felt quite let down by it, if for no other reason than I'd seen many critics hailing it as a return to form for the show.  Sadly, despite some fun moments -- Brittany's book report, Sue's rants -- and a couple of good performances -- enjoyed the rendition of "Losing My Religion," and was pleased that my guess that Rachel was going to do "Papa Can You Hear Me" proved correct -- the show was derailed for me by its heavy-handedness.  And yes, even at its best Glee can be heavy-handed, but the forced nature of the "it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you believe in something" scenes kept me from fully enjoying the experience. 

Raising Hope (Fox, 8:00):  First, let's take a moment to rejoice in the fact that Fox has shown the (rare (for them)) good sense to order a full season's worth of my favorite new show of the year.  While maybe not as consistently laugh-out-loud funny as the first two episodes, this still provided me with plenty of opportunities to wonder if my neighbors can hear my braying laugh. 

Running Wilde (Fox, 8:30):  I'm a little tired of seeing people excoriate this show for trying too hard to be Arrested Development due to its occasional bits of dialogue for Will Arnett that are possible callbacks to GOB.  Considering how many times AD had winking nods to its actors' former roles, I think the odd GOB-flavored line or two isn't anything to get too worked up over.  I'm still enjoying the show, which I think had its strongest episode yet thanks to allowing Steven to interact with some more real-world characters, but I'm not confident in its chances of getting a back-9 order.


The Middle (ABC, 7:00):  Sue's facial expressions as she was being dunked by Sean in the pool was some excellent physical comedy.  Also excellent was Brick's progressive testing of Frankie's "tangled web" of motherly lies. Not quite as excellent was Frankie's breakdown at the end, but let's be honest, Frankie-centric plot-lines are usually the weak points of the show.

Better With You (ABC, 7:30):  I've primarily been using this innocuous and predictable sitcom as background noise while doing other stuff -- like writing blog posts -- and would probably just delete it from my DVR settings if it weren't for the fact that I find Josh Cooke's character oddly entertaining, and am endlessly fascinated to see Debra Jo Rupp (a.k.a. Kitty from That 70s Show) play a frosty, uptight character. 

Modern Family (ABC, 8:00):  The second show of the week to explore questions of spirituality was definitely the most grounded -- of course, the fact that the other two were the consistently over-the-top Glee and Community doesn't really make that much of an achievement.  I enjoyed the interplay between the very religious Gloria, the not-so-religious Jay, and the uncertain Manny caught in-between. 

Cougar Town (ABC, 8:30):  There are times when Jules' craziness is a bit much for me, and this episode was a prime example.  On the other hand, Grayson's attempts to deal with the craziness was comedy gold, as was the Ellie/Laurie feud.


Community (NBC, 7:00):  The final part of the spirituality trifecta managed to merge the over-the-top nature of Glee with the "actually being funny" of Modern Family.  Of course, where Glee  and Modern Family focused on actual religions, Community used a fictional cult to explore ideas of religious tolerance and compassion much more effectively than Glee, in my opinion. 

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 7:00):  After a couple of relatively lackluster episodes, BBT was back in fine form this week. Most of that can be attributed to the Shamy dynamic -- here's hoping they keep Amy Farrah-Fowler around for a while.  A part of me would love to see Leonard's mother interact with Shamy, but another part worries that a triple dose of Sheldon-style personalities might be a bit too much.  Still, the possibility that Amy might feel jealous of the respect Sheldon has for Leonard's mom makes for an intriguing thought, no?

30 Rock (NBC, 7:30):  The unintentional racism scenes weren't exactly this show's finest hour, but it was worth it to have Queen Latifah around. 

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX, 9:00):  By far the strongest episode of the season*.  Loved seeing the parade of supporting characters being brought onto the ill-fated podcast, and Mac's preparation for his appearance on the ice was great as well.

The League (FX, 9:30):  All I can say is thank heavens this episode puts an end to the Rafi storyline. 

*And I'm not just saying that because Zinger has Dish Network and so doesn't get FX anymore  and had to miss it. . . honest

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