My take on the new winter shows:
Mr. Sunshine, ABC-Mr. Sunshine has a lot going for it: Allison Janey, Nate Torrence, Matthew Perry, Andreas Anders, and the setting of a sports arena among other things.
I like what Nate Torrence and Allison Janey have done with their characters. Andreas Anders wears on me just a little bit but that's also because she has the misfortune of having to take that same winning screen persona and tweaking it for the fourth time in 6 and a half years (For those of you keeping score: Fall 2004-Joey, 2006-Class, 2009-Better off Ted, January 2011-Mr Sunshine) because that's just the nature of the TV industry. The same problem applies for Perry and James Lesure: I've seen these exact characters in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Las Vegas. As a result, I feel like I'm watching a show that exists within the same universe as those two shows where Matt Alvey quit show business and decided to manage a sports arena and Mike Canon quit the Montecito to join him.
As a result, the show struggles to define its own brand. It feels like a cross between Aaron Sorkin, Scrubs and a less colorful Wes Anderson film. If the show's going to go quirky, I hope we see more quirkiness out of Perry, Lesure and Anders. As it stands, Torrence and Janey are carrying the show and could become breakout characters if the show builds any traction.
One last little note: I liked that the pilot ended on a pretty strong note. It wasn't sappy but not meaningless either. We got the sense that Ben (Matthew Perry's character) would begin to reexamine his life a little but it wasn't going to be a drastic makeover.
Off the Map, ABC-I would estimate that, even though this is an exciting medical show that takes you to the third world, 80% of the show's content is entirely interchangeable with Grey's Anatomy. The focus is on interpersonal relationships, characters with chips on their shoulders trying to prove themselves, romances, and occasional medical emergency.
Bob's Burgers, FOX-Is anyone else irritated by the growing trend that bad animation is making some sort of stylistic statement that ultimately enhances our viewing experience? Two of my favorite animated shows as of late have gone the South Park route of sloppy-is-trendy with regard to animation: "Life and Times of Tim" and this show. Nonetheless, Bob's Burgers is far weaker than the other shows on the Sunday night animation line-up which is going to doom it to unfavorable comparisons. I still like it, however. There's a lot to this show that's not particularly groundbreaking, but i do like the way the ensemble seems to bounce off each other. The three kids are all utterly oblivious to the wishes of their dad and there's a Malcolm in the Middle vibe with the frustrated parent character.
Retired at 35, TV Land-An old-fashioned system is never really out of date as long as audiences exist who grew up on that format. The main appeal of this show is George Segal who won this TV reviewer over on "Just Shoot Me." Jessica Walter is already on Archer so there hasn't been as much of a chance to miss her. The show had a novel premise and was solid enough in the pilot to keep me going. In the second and third episodes, however, the show drifted into pathetic. In focusing so heavily on the sex lives of the older characters, the show is trying too hard to be edgy and putting unnecessarily gross images in my head. The show also fails to answer the question of how the son doesn't seem to mind actively participating in his parent's sex lives as a wing man (for the father) or a buffer (for the mother). I was glad to see local TV star and short-lived SNL castoff Casey Wilson back on the airwaves although it looks like she's a guest star.