Monday, May 17, 2010

My Five Cents: Fox 2010 Fall Comedies...

Fox announced their new fall shows today, and fortunate reporters got to screen clips and some shows in full during the network's Upfronts ceremonies held in New York City. Though I have not returned to the wormy, mealy Big Apple to attend such an event, I was still granted the opportunity to take a look at what's to come in order to offer you my five cents. Here are the summaries and snap judgments regarding the comedies. Feel free to agree (or disagree) in the comments section below!

Raising Hope is a new single-camera family comedy that follows the Chance family as they find themselves adding an unexpected new member into their already terribly flawed household. Lucas Neff is pool-skimmer-by-day/partier-by-night "live at home" twenty-something who lives with his extended family. Cloris Leachman is his grandmother, Martha Plimpton his mother, Garret Dillahunt his father, and Skyler Stone his cousin. Neff's character takes a drastic turn, though, when he is forced to raise the baby he didn't know he had with a wanted felon who gets sent to jail, guest star Bijou Phillips. Quirky and complicated enough for you?? Well, on top of that his parents had him when they were teenagers and know nothing about raising kids, and he has a crush on a local checkout clerk. The baby is his one real chance to make something of not only his life but his whole family's. It's a bit convoluted, which appears to be a theme this year, but the pilot is more muddled than amusing at this point. The band of crazy characters appears to be an attempt to replace the still-missed beloved unconventional Bluths. And it's a poor substitute.

From the Emmy Award-winning creator and the star of the critically acclaimed series Arrested Development is a romantic comedy starring Will Arnett as a filthy-rich, immature playboy trying desperately to win (or buy) the heart of his childhood sweetheart, Keri Russell, the ├╝ber-liberal humanitarian who got away– all told through the perspective of a 12-year-old girl. Talk about quirky and complicated! In Running Wilde, Arnett's character has never performed a selfless act, while Russell is an earnest do-gooder who has spent her entire adult life trying to save the world and currently lives with an indigenous tribe in the Amazon rainforest along with her daughter (Stefania Owen). Each week will bring wacky antics and misguided attempts at wooing while this hopelessly mismatched pair attempts to reconcile their differences. Arnett is carrying this series thus far-- and his natural charm is doing a bang-up job at it. However, in order for true success, the show should adopt more of an ensemble feel to allow its male lead to really shine, instead of burying him under the weight of the show.

Bob's Burgers is a new animated series about a man, his family and a burger joint. Prepping for mid-season, H. Jon Benjamin voices Bob, at the helm of a family and a burger joint, who has big ideas about burgers, condiments, and sides, but only a few thoughts on customer service and business management. Despite his greasy counters, lousy location and occasionally spotty service, Bob is convinced his burgers speak for themselves, even though across the street is Jimmy Pesto’s Pizzeria, Bob’s Burgers’ main competition and the thorn in his side. The animation is purposefully crude, but with so many returning animated comedies, this one doesn't have the scripts to match. There's not enough of a hook or clever commentary for it to seem necessary in the line-up.

Mixed Signals is another mid-season series about three longtime friends and their attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable: to balance their relationships with their need for freedom. The series reveals how friendships and romances enhance– and further complicate– the lives of men and the women who love them. Kris Marshall is the perpetual bachelor who loves women, and when he’s in, he’s all least for three or so weeks. Typical. Nelson Franklin recently moved in with his girlfriend, played by Alexandra Breckenridge, and is learning how vastly different “she comes over a lot” and “she lives with me” really are. Expected. Lastly, David Denman is a married lawyer still trying to figure out the male-female dynamic. He wants nothing more than to be a good family man, but he’s also trying to carve out a little space for himself. Currently that space is in his car, where he watches action movies in 15-minute chunks while telling his wife he’s stuck in traffic. Of course he does/it is! This show thus far feels a bit like a scripted version of theReal Househusbands of Hollywood, a reality show on Fox Reality that featured a a reformed bachelor still somewhat struggling with the powerful wife and new baby, a guy in a long-time relationship who wasn't even allowed to pick out his own clothes, and a married guy whose "man cave" was banished to his garage. This is just one of many relationship shows the networks are attempting this year and will again attempt next year. It won't last longer than the time it took to read this summary!

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