TV Diary

a) "iZombie"
As a fan of "Veronica Mars," I'm already pre-sold on a new Rob Thomas show about a girl detective, even if she's a zombie. And while there are enough familiar beats to the narration and the dialogue to feel similar, the protagonist eating brains is probably enough to differentiate it. And just the idea of there being one zombie, trying to hold onto their humanity, instead of a zombie apocalypse, is intriguing in and of itself.  They're clearly having fun with the absurd premise, but I was surprised with how well they imbued the story with a kind of sadness and gave the show some unlikely emotional stakes. The last couple episodes haven't grabbed me as much as the pilot, but I'm still enjoying it.

b) "The Returned"
This show reminds me a bit of "The Leftovers," except instead of being run by Damon Lendelof of "Lost" fame/infamy it's Carlton Cuse, and instead of a world where people have mysteriously disappeared, it's a town where a small number of dead people have mysteriously returned alive. There's a lot of other creepy unexplained stuff happening, and 4 episodes in, no telling where it's really headed yet. But it's based on a popular French series, so hopefully they have a blueprint to follow and won't "Lost" it all up, but I'm not getting too invested. The whole thing is pretty compelling as far as acting and storytelling, though, even if they lay it on pretty thick --- there is, for instance, a woman who was pregnant on her wedding day when her fiancee dies, and the fiancee/father of her child rises from the dead right before she has a wedding planned with someone new. They're just really pulling the emotional strings pretty hard, and sometimes it works, but you can feel it a little too much.

c) "Weird Loners"
Lots of sitcoms are broadly about terrible, unsympathetic people with romantic problems (in the "Seinfeld" mold), but lately there's been a rash of shows where that's very explicitly the premise of the show -- "You're The Worst" is pretty great, "Undateable" is awful, and this show is almost guaranteed to be somewhere in the middle, although I don't know where. The pilot was pretty good, though, especially the lip reading bit at the end. Zachary Knighton was great on "Happy Endings" so I'm happy to see him land on something promising.

d) "One Big Happy" 
With Knighton on "Weird Loners" and Elisha Cuthbert on this show, we've now almost got everyone from "Happy Endings" back on TV (sort of -- "Benched" got canceled in January and Adam Pally finished his run on "The Mindy Project"). In fact there's still a little hope of "Happy Endings" coming back in some capacity. This is one of those sitcoms where the cast is really absurdly good-looking but not necessarily funny, which is generally not a good sign (Cuthbert is alright so far but not remotely as funny as her "Happy Endings" character eventually became). It's a show about a gay pregnant woman where scenes end with lines like "winner winner lesbian dinner," it's all just kinda toothless and corny.

e) "The Odd Couple"
There are still so many shows on TV that in some way or another owe something to "The Odd Couple" that it's almost kind of weird and on-the-nose to actually do a new version of the show (especially to take a spot on the CBS schedule that belonged to the most successful modern "Odd Couple" wannabe, "Two And A Half Men"). In fact, when I heard that Matthew Perry was going to be in a new version of "The Odd Couple," I wasn't really sure which role he was going to be in -- to the extent that Joey and Chandler had an odd couple dynamic, Chandler was Felix. But Perry makes a good Oscar, and Thomas Lennon is an effective but maybe too over-the-top Felix.

f) "The Royals"
The E! network's first scripted drama is kind of what you might expect, a tawdry sexy tabloid fictionalization of the British royal family. The pilot was kind of boring and low stakes in spite of everything, though. The whole premise also sorta requires the show to build this whole alternate history of an entire country just to function, and if that was a challenge for "The West Wing," it's certainly a struggle for this show.

g) "The Slap" 
This was my favorite thing to tweet about for the last couple months, and now it's over. I'm still just kind of fascinated with this show, which was never exactly a trainwreck but just felt like a total miscalculation by everyone involved on some fundamental level. Of course the reason they got such an impressive cast of film actors is because it was only a miniseries, but that also means you've got 7 or 8 major stars on a show who, other than Sarsgaard and a couple others, only got one episode about them and bit parts in the others. The third episode, centered on Uma Thurman's character, was really shockingly compelling, and had the least to do with the slap of any episode on the show. But then she was barely in most of the episodes after that, and kinda shows up halfway through the finale like "oh, right, her." Also, this was probably the last thing Uma Thurman did before she got surgery, so it's kind of a sad swan song for her wonderful original face. There were also just weird decisions about, like, the narration, which seemed to be in some episodes a lot and barely in others. Thomas Sadoski deserves some kind of award for giving compelling performances in spite of everything on both "Newsroom" and "The Slap."

h) "Togetherness"
I've only muddled through a few episodes of this, but jeez, what a bunch of bland, pointless, cliche storytelling that smugly thinks of itself as daring and insightful.

i) "Agent Carter"
This show has been consistently good, and Hayley Atwell is just the best, but I'm never really on the edge of my seat. The first season was so short and so focused on the overall story arc that I feel like they didn't get much of a chance to do many one-off plots and maybe have more fun with the period and the premise, so I'm hoping that happens in the second season.

j) "Broad City"
Still probably the funniest show on TV. But I think where Ilana was totally hysterical from the jump and Abbi wound up playing the straight man a little before, this season Abbi has really stepped up and had a lot of amazing moments, especially the 'Val' episode.

k) "The Mindy Project"
It's kinda interesting to me that "The Mindy Project" has so quickly doubled down on the Mindy/Danny relationship and put them on the track to a baby and a wedding by the end of season 3, when it didn't seem like it'd be that kind of show and would just milk the on-again-off-again dynamic for a few seasons. It hasn't hurt the show at all, though, in fact it's kind of refreshing given how cynically a lot of sitcoms play out the 'will they or won't they' thing. Apparently it's on the bubble, so I really hope it comes back in the fall.

l) "New Girl"
Also still a pretty solid show, that's navigated the post-Jess/Nick breakup pretty well. The cast chemistry is so strong at this point that it's just fun to see what guest stars they throw in the mix every week. One of my favorite recent developments on this show was Schmidt's new girlfriend played by Zoe Lister-Jones, who was the only good thing about last season's short-lived show "Friends With Better Lives." Vote Moscato!

m) "Childrens Hospital"
This show is so consistently bizarre that it doesn't really make sense to say that it's 'back to normal' in season 5 after all of season 4 took place in Japan. But it's kinda fun to see it get back to the format of the earlier seasons, even if that still means nonsensical one-off episodes that take place in the White House or whatever.

n) "Episodes"
This show is all about disappointment and survival in show business, and seeing the characters continue to amble along and fuck up again and again for four seasons kinda takes the whole concept to new weird extremes. It's not as funny as it was in early seasons, I think, but still enjoyable.

o) "Cougar Town"
Courtney Cox's latest TV project limps off the air, Matthew Perry's latest limps onto the air, Matt Leblanc's latest limps along, Lisa Kudrow clings to one from a decade ago, Jennifer Aniston clings to some semblance of movie stardom, and David Schwimmer manages to retain the most dignity by doing the least. Ships passing in the night. I haven't watched this show much since it jumped to TBS, but I caught the finale the other night. It was okay, really a little too sappy, though, I think the show lost a little of what had made it funny early on. I'm impressed that they managed to do over 100 episodes all named after Tom Petty songs, though.

p) "Shameless"
It's interesting to me how this show went to the trouble of casting Dermot Mulroney and then barely doing anything with him, although the way they diminished his role ended up with one of the better scenes of the series, that kind of set Fiona on a path of self-examination that has kind of made this season more compelling than the last few. But then, this is the show that has been squandering William H. Macy for five seasons and running. I kinda wish they'd just kill the character off, let him do something else with his time. 

q) "Community"
There's something really depressing about watching new episodes of what was once, in my opinion, maybe the best show on TV, on 'Yahoo Screen,' with only 4 of the show's original study group of 7 still on the show. But I do it, because it's still a pretty damn good and unique show. And if you're gonna add new characters to replace the old ones, Keith David and Paget Brewster are pretty ideal people to throw in the mix in my opinion. The fourth episode from this week was really easily the best of the new season so far, just hilarious and kind of did something new with the Dean that really fleshed out the character and put him in a different life. 

r) "The Late Late Show"
I liked Craig Ferguson as a host a lot, but he had the show for 10 years, and I'm trying to keep an open mind to the new guy. I missed James Corden's first night, but his monologue on the second night made me laugh really, really hard. He's kind of got the super happy high energy late night host vibe of Jimmy Fallon, except, well, he can do a funny monologue. The interviews and comedy bits are kind of hit and miss, but they have time to work it out. It's a little odd to have all the guests sit come out at once and kind of converse together, not like a panel discussion but just a normal late night interview with multiple guests, but it works. Last night Corden did the show from a guy's house, like just knocked on his door and asked and then did the show there, and that was kind of a fun, awkward experiment. Like, he sat on this family's couch with them, and then brought out Jeff Goldblum and Beck for interviews in their living room, and then played hide and go seek with them in the house. I don't think they need to do stunts like that all the time, but it was fun to see them willing to try that so early on.
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