Sunday, December 22, 2013

Looking at some of the 2013 shows that didnt measure up

I just posted my Top 10 List along with an Honorable Mention. On top of that, I include a list of shows that I watched so someone reading my Top 10 List will know what it was up against because no critic watches everything. In that respect, I'd like to also review 2013 by discussing some of the shows that fell short of being considered by myself for the year's best TV:

The Crazy Ones-It's a somewhat dependable sitcom and the Robin Williams/Sarah Michelle Gellar is a great pairing. I'll never understand the school of thought that Robin Williams is kind of annoying instead of a supremely talented guy who is among the most gifted comedians out there. Though I'd place myself in the top 10% of the population in terms of how much they like Robin Williams, even I found him a little redundant here. The show also loses points for having one of my last favorite stock characters: The lothario who is effortlessly irresistible to the opposite sex. This wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that it's supposed to be his comic trait and there's nothing that inherently funny about a guy who uses women like he does. Amanda Setton is clearly a talented actress but she isn't used particularly well here (ironically, I think she fit in better on "The Mindy Project") and she's given her character a weird tic of making every line of dialogue sound like a nervous question (perhaps she's trying to get on the cast of "Whose Line is It Anyway?").

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: This was a great addition to my weekly schedule for several weeks but the show had some irritating traits that eventually cancelled out the show's strengths. Andy Samberg does not make a believable cop (or a likable character for that matter) which begs the question: If the show's sole function is as a vehicle for Andy Samberg, why place him into TV's most overused genre when he doesn't fit into it? While some of the side characters (this show could win a diversity award for best Latino cast on TV) and relationships are excellent, the show lacks any sort of grounding upon which to build comedy. The comic tone is geared so much towards one-liners and quick gags, it feels more like vaudeville than a multi-layered source of laughs.

Modern Family-The show is high enough in quality to have merited honorable mention every year thus far, but by this point, the show has used up nearly every bag of tricks at its disposal. At this point, how many more hidden talents can Cam reveral? How many more revelations can there be that Jay's really a softie? How many more times can Alex surprise Haley by climbing her way up the social ladder? Hasn't she had her first boyfriend three times by now? This is not a fault of the show as it's doing what it is designed to do: Produce consistent and interchangeable episodes so that it can make a killing in syndication. I would happily watch this show five years from now when it turns up on the TV on a random afternoon and I still watch it now. It's just no longer event viewing.

The Sing-Off-It was probably right around #11 the last time it came on in 2011. Since the Sing-Off came back from the brink of cancellation, it acquired a new corporate producer in the form of Sony Television which made a few small changes that ended up making the show worse. I thought seven episodes was the optimal number but I didn't feel like I got the chance to know most of these groups. More backstory was needed and the swan songs, Ben's blog and the post-performance camera chats might have helped that.

The Awesomes (Hulu)-Seth Meyer's newest venture, the show got off to a great start and seemed to find something unique to say in the now overcrowded genre of superhero spoofs. I still watched it all the way through but the plots lost a little firepower after a while as certain plot motifs started repeating themselves (i.e. no one catching onto Malocchio's plan, Prock having a crush on Hotwire, Muscleman dealing with his inferior intellect in comparison to Prock) in ways that didn't build. Of the eight superheroes, I found only about half to really hold my attention as interesting characters. Coincidentally, that's the same hit-miss ratio as SNL sketches so, hey, at least Seth is consistent.
Alpha House (Amazon)-Based on an article from the New York Times, the show about four Senators sharing a house in Washington is a premise winning enough to get a good bidding war and the necessary amount of hype to kick off Amazon's original content platform. The show is pleasant and breezy through the first three episodes. At the same time, it's somewhat underwhelming due to the fact that it seems episodic in tone with little serialization. It almost seems like the remnants of a multi-camera sitcom. It's also worth noting that John Goodman seems to be recycling some of his old roles for the lead character (I see some traces of Evan Almighty, Flight, the Babe and some of his  Coen brothers films). He is a bit grumpy, a little lazy, and that's about it. This is is even more disappointing considering that most standout shows in the Golden Age of TV have incredibly strong protagonists. The upside is that the show has a lot of potential for good plots as there's a lot of amusing situations I can imagine placing four senators in. In the third episode, for example, they go to Afghanistan on a fact-finding trip for self-serving reasons. Although I was disappointed that they were in Afghanistan only in the episode's third act, it had potential.

My disappointments with Lilyhammer, Scandal, American Horror Story, and 1600 Penn are covered elsewhere on this blog.

No comments: