I watch the Mid-season replacement shows, so you don’t have to
Fam- (Naw, my grade D)
The title of the show, “Fam” annoyed me at the gate. I instinctively resist watching any shows with cute abbreviations as titles, before you ask, I wouldn’t watch any shows called “Vacay” or “adorbs” or “Cray Cray” either.I caught the first episode and wasn’t impressed. The whole thing seemed like the cast was assembled at random as some kind of “diversity grab” a whole slew of mult-ethnic-multi genre actors such as Brian stokes Mitchell (mostly a broadway Actor) ( dramatic actor Gary Cole). Without a uniting purpose, it seems like this show assembled such diverse actors to merely appeal to the biggest net of fans. Such as just casting someone with an English accent for no other reason that just for overseas crossover appeal. In coming episodes I fully expect an introduction to Moishe and Abiha, the Jewish-Muslim couple from down the hall who, despite all their challenging pol/cultural differences, just manage to somehow just make it all work!
*The casts one bright spot is Odessa Adlon (“Shannon”) who seems too spunky to be weighed down by this hideous vehicle and should headline her own show.
Schooled- (Consider a Gap Year, My Grade C)
Intended as a direct spinoff of The Goldbergs. Schooled is populated by B-List Goldberg cast members such as the gym coach, Principal, and the obligatory Rush Fan whose now the school janitor.
I’m not sure the show’s premise- the travails of an music teacher in the 1990s- is all that compelling to anyone except possibly to another music teacher who taught in the 1990. in a relatively superficial decade like this whose main cultural landmarks were Grunge, the internet and The Monica Lewinsky Scandal, I doubt “Schooled” has all the right stuff to be a great time capsule show like “Happy Days”, “The Wonder Years” or even the tepid, “That Seventies Show”. Without any major artistic/cultural movements to add spice, this show is forced to mine the characters for material. Unfortunately, They prove largely stilted and two-dimensional: the shorts wearing gym coach, the confrontation-phobic principal, and the Finger-less shop teacher are one-joke characters that would seem more at home in a short spoof than a long running sit com.
Whiskey Cavalier- (Okay, I’ll take a shot!, My Grade B)
A clever spin on the well worn dynamic of a male/female spy team. The duo are hired to save the world and still find the time to squeeze a little romance. Yep, nothing like when your eyes meet longingly after shooting an Enemy Of The State In The Throat!
When I first started watching this show, I felt Scott Foley was just too long in the tooth to pull off being an international FBI Spy and man of action. He always struck me as a guy who would be more comfortable parked on the couch watching the History Channel. But he’s surprisingly winning as the “emotional” Spy. His character offers a cute spin on the archetypal and stoic James Bond . Foley embraces his sappy middle….he pines over an old girlfriend and Wells up at weddings. At first, the major weak link of this show at first was Lauren Cohan (“Frankie”, fellow agent/romantic interest) Initially, her character seemed cold and snide but as the show has progressed, the writers are letting her show more of her vulnerability while still keeping her kick-ass nature intact.
Abby’s- (This aint no Downton Abbey, My Grade D)
A low rent Cheers. A woman operating an unlicensed bar in her back yard . might seem like an edgy concept. but, after watching a few episodes, the show seems half baked. the bar is composed of the most straight-laced barflies I’ve ever seen. More like a collection of regulars at a Panera Bread than hardened drinkers. The Middle’s, “Neil Flynn” plays a Norm-like character whose always there. The show has requisite, stiff old guy who never says a word. The show aims to be an ensemble of lovable losers like Cheers. However, Cheers had top notch writing staff and what would turn out to be a cast of breakout stars with immediate appeal and charisma. Abby, the designated “Sam Malone” leader of the bar has only one major character trait.: gruffness. Pretty deadly for a service oriented business like bartending. Unless writers can infuse Abbey with more humanity… maybe she has a sick aunt somewhere or sponsors a cat orphanage Otherwise, if everything stays the same, its going to be grim sailing ahead.
***Shows I haven’t actually watched but nevertheless saw fit to review anyway
Mental Samurai- I Prefer Mental Ninja!
Rob Lowe’s Mental Samurai Follows the trend of A or B list celebs hosting game shows: (see Alec Baldwin , Ellen Degeneres,and Jane Lynch). Lowe, a preternaturally well-preserved relic from the Brat Pack & scandalous sex tape that nearly derailed his career, would not be my pick for a show called, Mental Samurai. With Lowe at the head, the title, “mental” would seem more “personality- appropriate”. The “loopy’ premise of the show is that people must answer questions while zooming around in a rotating capsule seems designed by a masochist. With people spinning violently around in a chair, Tums and Pepto Bismal should sponsor this debacle. Now, if they could instead force people to have to answer tough questions while sitting through Lowe’s embarrassing/unsettling sex tape from the 80s, Now, that would be awesome TV!
*For The People- (How about “For The Air-Sick Bag”)
A Mid-Season replacement show that I have never watched. The name sounds too idealistic to be a show about attorneys. If they called it a title that was a fairer representation of the legal profession like, . “Billable Hours” , then maybe I’d take a shot.