TV Diary

a) "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
As a huge fan of "30 Rock," I think my favorite thing about this show is that the breakout star of it is Tituss Burgess, who was D'Fwan on "Queen of Jordan." The whole dark premise of this show, which mainly seems to exist so that they can have an implausibly upbeat "New Girl"-style heroine whose attitude, eventually gets funnier when they double down on it by the end of the season. But really I just enjoy the rhythm of the joke writing and that it takes that whole style of "30 Rock" and has applied it to a very different, slightly more open-ended kind of story. Also great to see Carol Kane being Carol Kane on TV again, she gets some amazing lines. There've started to be some thinkpieces about the humor on the show being racist, but aside from the whole Dong character, which came off kind of tonedeaf and old-fashioned, most of it struck me as jokes about racism that weren't afraid to implicate the characters (as was often the case on "30 Rock," which wasn't afraid to put Liz Lemon in a bad light).

b) "The Last Man On Earth"
I always liked Will Forte on "SNL" and thought he showed some acting chops in Nebraska, but I didn't really know what to expect from this show. It feels like all the possible gags involving being one of the last people left on a depopulated Earth were used up by Zombieland or even the comedic moments in I Am Legend or whatever. But this show just kills me, I expected something kind of dry that I would crack a smile at here and there but I laughed my ass off at the pilot. And I love Kristen Schaal, she's really been a great foil for Forte, even if I'm kind of unconvinced by the premise that being stranded with and married to her would be bad.

c) "Fresh Off The Boat"
Before watching a single episode, I read Eddie Huang's account of adapting his memoir into a TV show, and it was so incredibly funny and heartfelt and honest about the whole ordeal that I came away wanting to read the book more than to watch the show. The show itself is pretty great, though, even if I can sometimes see the seams of where it diverts from his book and his vision. The "Wonder Years"-style adult narration of childhood memories format has maybe been done a little too much by now with "Everybody Hates Chris" and the godawful "The Millers," but it works pretty well here. I love all the '90s rap fandom details, too, even if they occasionally get weird details wrong (the show starts in 1995, but the kid quotes "Mo' Money, Mo Problems" and wears a Wu Tang Forever shirt, which I will pedantically note are both from '97). Constance Wu is the real revelation of the cast, she has the most menacing mom deadpan.

d) "Dig"
My wife was way more interested to see this show than I was, the first couple episodes are intriguing but it could go either way, I think. I like that they haven't really explained how the different stories intersect yet and I'm hoping they're doing something ambitious with all the history and religion instead of just using it as a backdrop for a murder mystery.

e) "CSI: Cyber"
I just had to watch an episode of this to take in the trainwreck, and to find out what song by The Who they were going to use as the theme (it's "I Can See For Miles" -- I lol'd). I honestly feel bad for Patricia Arquette that her first role after winning a goddamn Oscar is in a "CSI" spinoff with fucking Bow Wow. Fire your agent, damn. Geena Davis being on "Grey's Anatomy" now might be even worse, though. I could make fun of the ways this show was ridiculous but you've seen the other "CSI"s, you know the deal, all that plus woah internet. Even Van Der Beek is depressing to see on here, he was good on the last couple sitcoms he did but they got canceled so now he's just taking whatever gig he can get.

f) "Secrets And Lies"
I feel bad for Patricia Arquette, but in a weird way I feel worse for actors who probably could've gotten onto a great TV show if they'd tried early in the nu-cable drama era, like Juliette Lewis or Ryan Phillippe, who instead waited until 2015 and ended up on this bland ABC show (although the champion of this sad category is definitely Uma Thurman on "The Slap"). I think after "Gracepoint" I've just had my fill of murdered child mysteries and probably won't stick with this one. The whole thing is all po-faced and somber, but then 5 minutes into the first episode Dan Fogler shows up and there's this goofy slapstick scene. I'm kind of hoping the whole show has intermittent bursts of broad wacky neighbor sitcom antics.

g) "This Is Not Happening"
Weird late night Comedy Central show where comedians get in front of a crowd and tell a true story instead of just their usual routine, and it's all handsomely shot with some more attention paid to the visuals than you're used to seeing with standup. But ultimately every episode I've seen has just felt like a single topic standup set and nothing really out of the ordinary, maybe because these people all know how to embellish the stories and make the crowds laugh no matter what. Fun but hasn't really fulfilled its potential in any of the ones I've seen yet.

h) "Empire"
I was pretty on the fence about this ridiculous show, but now I'm reveling in it and looking forward to it every week. My favorite parts are when Terrence Howard "plays" piano and looks like Keyboard Cat.

i) "Suits"
Rick Hoffman always caught my eye in memorable bit parts before "Suits," and it's been fun to see him get an interesting character on a good show. Louis has always had kind of a fluid role within the cast, moving from antagonist to sidekick to comic relief at different times and being occasionally really sympathetic and occasionally downright villainous. This season has really done a good job of developing that aspect of the show and pushing him to the edge without tipping things over too far. The relationship between Harvey and Donna has played out interestingly, too.

j) "Girls"
I haven't finished this season yet, don't know if I will. There's been a couple good moments but mostly it's as annoying and unsatisfying as ever. I think I'm mostly just trying to keep watching in hopes that Natalie Morales's character kicks Marnie's ass.

k) "Parks And Recreation"
I've always had very mixed feelings about this show and have felt out of step with most of its audience. . I didn't even halfheartedly start watching it until the second season, mostly because I could never stand the U.S. version of "The Office" and this whole thing doesn't play to Amy Poehler's strengths. Eventually it grew on me, particularly in the Rob Lowe years, but I always held it at arm's length. I haven't finished the last season yet, but I've kinda enjoyed the novelty of them skipping forward to 2017 and injecting some weird sci-fi gags and future pop culture predictions into the show. In the middle of watching the last season, I went back and watched the first season that I'd never seen in the first place because of Sam Donsky's great Grantland piece in defense of it, and it was jarring to see what a totally different show it used to be. Post-Rob Lowe, it's okay, I guess, they've made good use of Billy Eichner. I may keep watching to the end in hopes that Natalie Morales's character dumps Tom's ass.
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