TV Diary

a) "The Path"
I'm very intrigued by this show, which is about a fictitious cult, just because there's a lot of different ways it could go, and since it's not based on any particular real life cult, you don't necessarily know where it's going. And I'm also happy to see Michelle Monaghan in a pretty meaty role -- I've been rooting for her since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and she was pretty underused on the first season of "True Detective." I'm really starting to come to the conclusion that Aaron Paul is simply a bad actor, though. The show is really dark and devoid of any kind of humor or variation in tone, which can really turn me off of shows -- something like "Rectify," I eventually give up on no matter how well it's made. But I'm still intrigued and waiting to see how this story pays off.

b) "The Detour"
When Samantha Bee and Jason Jones left "The Daily Show" and signed a deal with TBS last year, they developed both Bee's late night show "Full Frontal," and this, a sitcom starring Jones. "Full Frontal" has been fantastic for the past two months, but I'm not so wild about the first couple episodes of "The Detour." We've seen a lot of road trip comedy movies over the years, and this is unique just for building an entire TV series around that conceit. But so far it just kinda feels derivative of those movies, occasionally funny but also a very familiar kind of comedy of errors (and also not as good as the last decent road trip comedy, We're The Millers).

c) "The Catch"
This show has a very stylized retro vibe, with lots of jaunty bossa nova score and fancy scene wipes that make it feel like Ocean's 11 or something. And if it had been done on cable with a bigger budget, that might've looked cool, but it feels like ABC just made this show with the same crew and locations a million other network dramas are made with so it feels like a half-assed attempt at the aesthetic. And maybe I'm used to Peter Krause's characters on shows like "Sports Night" and "Parenthood," but I just don't think he's well cast here. The show wants to be fun and jaunty but it feels a little lifeless.

d) "The Ranch"
Uh so have you noticed i the course of this post a lot of new "The [noun]" shows lately? It's kind of annoying, right? I thought when Ashton Kutcher took the "Two And A Half Men" gig that he just couldn't resist the opportunity at cashing in on an already successful show. But apparently his heart really is in crude, mean laugh track comedy, because this show is basically "Two And A Half Men" on a farm in Colorado, with the only "That '70s Show" alum who hasn't had a career, Danny Masterson, tagging a long. There's some fun to be had in Sam Elliott as a cranky old sitcom dad, but the show is pretty mediocre overall.

e) "Heartbeat"
I'm glad NBC has rewarded Melissa George for the indignity of "The Slap" by making her the star of a show with a little more promise. I was surprised that it's actually based on an actual doctor's life, because it's pretty cartoony for a medical drama, but I don't think that's a bad thing, I feel like there's room now for a "House"-type show with some character-driven levity and medical oddities. George is also having a lot of fun with the role, I haven't seen her do much comedy since the secret classic Sugar & Spice early in her career. I thought I'd be bothered by unfunny lamewads D.L. Hughley and Jamie Kennedy being in the show but they're really barely there, thankfully.

f) "Crowded"
Patrick Warburton is a legend to me just for David Puddy and Brock Sampson, but it bummed me out that he spent 7 seasons on a show as weak as "Rules Of Engagement," which I still blame for making his role smaller on some seasons of "The Venture Bros." So I was wary of him doing another network sitcom, but this song is definitely better and funnier than "Rules," if not by a huge margin. It amused me to notice that each episode of "Crowded" is named after a Pearl Jam, which is apparently because Warburton is a huge fan of the band. In fact he got to write their setlist for a 2009 show, and the dude has great taste in Pearl Jam.

g) "Hunters"
SyFy has been on a hot streak with new shows like "The Magicians" and "The Expanse," but based on the first episode, I'm not into this at all, it's just kinda boring.

h) "Rush Hour"
Brett Ratner is usually the hack director who inherits franchises (I still haven't forgiven him for that third X-Men movie), so I feel like there's some poetic justic in the one big franchise he originated being adapted into a weak TV show. Really I just like the idea of saying something "didn't stay true to Brett Ratner's original vision" because that's a hilarious thought. But wow, this is bad. Between "Dream On," "Just Shoot Me," "Hot In Cleveland," and this, Wendy Malick should be in some kind of mediocre TV hall of fame.

i) "Party Over Here"
FOX has been trying a lot of late night shows on Saturday since "Mad TV" went off the air, and they've generally been even worse than "Mad TV." I thought this one had promise, though, a sketch comedy show created by the Lonely Island guys and Paul Scheer, and starring three previously unknown actresses. But man, it just really really falls flat. Every episode has at least one sketch with a great premise that would've killed with SNL's cast, but their cast just doesn't really make it work.

j) "Chasing Destiny"
I've really lost interest in star-making music reality shows, as even "American Idol" and "The Voice" have failed to launch any real careers in ages. But I like that Kelly Rowland decided to make a BET show where she assembles a girl group, I've really missed girl groups in pop and R&B since Destiny's Child, and the only ones that have made a dent in the past decade were all formed on TV shows (Fifth Harmony, Little Mix, Danity Kane). And so far it's been a pretty enjoyable little show, really feels like Rowland is taking the project seriously and trying to pick a good group and give them real guidance, although you never really know with these things how it will turn out.

k) "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"
This show was such an odd little underdog, even on The CW, that I really had no idea if it stood a chance of surviving. But now Rachel Bloom has won a (very deserved) Golden Globe and the show's been renewed for a second season, and I'm glad that it's remained strong through the end of the season. I've yet to hear a song on the show that I actually wanted to hear again after the episode ended, though -- not to say the music is terrible but it mostly functions in the context of the show as a comedy setpiece. But there's been some really intelligent, emotionally resonant writing on the show that's kind of helped it get past what seemed like such an inherently limited premise.

l) "Rosewood"

This was one of the more fun new shows of the fall and I've been enjoying it. They really lean hard on the "Moonlighting" vibe, though, constantly toying with having the two leads get together and then throwing obstacles in the way, so at this point I'm just like yelling at the TV for them to just fuck already.

m) "Quantico" 
Another new drama about pretty people that I've enjoyed this season, although the plot is so much convoluted intrigue that I really just make no attempt to keep up with what's happening, it's kind of a show I put on when I'm writing or getting things done and want some background noise. It's amused me to see Eliza Couple guest on the show lately, since I mostly know her from comedies like "Happy Endings," but she kind of makes sense in a drama too.

n) "The Carmichael Show"
I enjoyed the novelty of such a relentlessly topical sitcom when they ran 6 episodes last summer. But now that it's back, I'm kinda hoping they branch out and make it a little more sitcommy. The episode about Bill Cosby was good but it also just felt like a "The Nightly Show" panel discussion dropped onto a sitcom set.

o) "Stitchers"
I mostly watch this show for Allison Scagliotti, and I'm glad that ABC Family uh I mean FREEFORM has seemed to notice that she's more funny and charismatic than the overserious female lead and has made her the center of a lot of storylines in the second season so far. It's still kind of a flawed, silly show, but pretty likeable for what it is.

p) "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
I'm only 4 episodes into the new season, and this is still a really sharp show with a great cast. But it's kinda taking me some time to get back into the groove of it, the premise was always weird and it hasn't quite gelled into a working formula like "30 Rock" did. I like it a lot, but I don't know if I love it.

q) "Broad City" 
This show is still one of the best things on TV, and Ilana Glazer is a force of nature. But someone recently said that the show sometimes has "Pauly Shore vibes" and once you hear something like that you kinda can't un-hear it. But I kind of like that the modern urbanite is being sent up in such a funny but affectionate way in a show like this, the same way that goofy rocker dudes were such a staple of comedy in the early '90s (Pauly, Wayne's WorldBill & Ted, "Beavis & Butthead," etc.).

r) "Childrens Hospital" 
This show just ran its final episode after 7 seasons, and it really had a great run, but I'm kinda glad it's over. It was just so relentlessly absurd that by the end they'd done a lot of really brilliant creative episodes, but they also did stuff where the character who has a hump in her back found out the hump was full of Coca-Cola. The episodes were so short that you could probably watch all 80 of them in a day or two, but I wouldn't recommend it that way.
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