Thursday, October 21, 2010

Updates on New Fall Shows I've Defended Pt. II: )&#@ My Dad Says and Outsourced

A month ago when the new shows premiered, there were four series getting critical pans that I tried to gallantly defend. Here's an Update on $)&# My Dad Says and Outsourced:

3. #@)$*() My Dad Says on CBS:
What I said before:
"William Shatner, who can be easily pigeonholed in our heads as that caricature of his Captain Kirk character he's been doing for years, is delightfully fresh here. Thanks to the writing, his character is a relatively unique comic creation. The show has heart as well. When the father and son are dancing at the end of the pilot, it's an earned moment. The best indication, however, that I wanted to see more is simply that the show made me laugh. Numerous times."

How I feel about it now:
The show has no over reaching arcs with little change from episode to episode, so not much has changed. That's a good thing and a bad thing. I don't think will ever think this show will ever be brilliant but it's reliable. It's got good chemistry and it's funny. It was also one of the highest rated shows of the season.

4. Outsourced on NBC:
What I said before:
"Outsourcing has a natural go-to place for its humor in the form of culture clash jokes and the writing seems competent enough that they know how to mine it. Culture clash humor is going to rely more on the relationships between the characters than the "Hey, you guys are wearing funny hats" type of observational shtick. In that category, potential is developing in the network of relationships that’s being established. The protagonist has an American colleague (Diedrich Baker) who’s kind of boorish, a passive-aggressive assistant manager and a team of subordinates with whom he’s having several awkward Michael-Scott-like moments. There’s also an flirty Australian love interest but she’s been kept in the background so far."

How it's been coming along:
The show is gradually improving in characterization and plotting with each episode.
I'm already liking a lot of the characters who I couldn't differentiate between in the pilot. The soft-talking Indian woman and the awkward Indian guy who talks too much are still both a little cringe-worthy, I will admit but Maneet is a good confidante character, Asha is a very good character and the Rajiv is great. Aisha is a strong romantic foil to Todd and has bucked at least a couple stereotypes so far. The last episode showed more of this interesting tension within Rajiv as a guy who wants to usurp his boss but also has that non-confrontational ever-pleasing attitude that we tend to associate with most Indians who work at a call center.

Lastly, I applaud the show for handling the love triangles with range and sudlety. Normally, when a character has a crush on another there's practically a nametag on them stating as such. There were virtually no tipoffs that Todd might have made a move on Asha while Tonya (the Australian) gives us a big contrast with her directness. Love and infatuation comes in many forms and this is one of the few shows that really recognizes that.

A couple of bloggers who are former TV writers have also got onboard Outsourced. Ken Levine, who wrote for Wings, Becker, Cheers and a million other things, said that he doesn't necessarily dislike the show and sees potential but they tend to be going the safe route. Another former TV writer (for the Cosby Show), Earl Pomeranitz, detailed how fond he was for the show but thinks it will probably be cancelled.

In response to Earl: It got a full season renewal, so don't be so down. Thursday night shows that haven't been amazing have gotten a second year before. Christina Applegate's vehicle "Jesse" got a second season and the Mark Fuehrstein vehicle "Good Morning Miami" got a second season. Neither show was very good. That would basically mean that even if this show never catches on, it could easily produce 40-ish episodes.

And yet another somewhat tangential argument: For the first time since about 2002, NBC could be able to build a solid block of two nights of comedy (it tried in 2006 and failed). Office would have its swan song of a season, Parks and Rec would be back, throw in Community, 30 Rock, Outsourced and one to three new pilots and NBC has 6-8 shows to work with. They could try Outsourced on a different night and pair it up with Parks and Recreation or Community and it might be able to do fairly well (hopefully, the critics will either get behind it or the critics who are behind it will be a little less ashamed of it and a little more bold and proactive in it)

As for Ken: I think a lot of criticism might have to do with whether the show really feels like it's in India but if it was actually set in India and the show went 100% in making us feel like we were in India, trust me, it might be a great show but it wouldn't be broad enough to keep an audience. It would be like a weekly installment of Slumdog Millionaire. This isn't HBO where they have a niche market, this is NBC. They have to play it safe to some extent.

Related post:
My take on the best comedic shows of 2008

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