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September 28, 2012

Review: The Mindy Project (Fox) 1x1

Posted on September 28, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Mindy Project

In the US: Tuesdays, 9.30/8.30c, Fox
In the UK: Not yet acquired

When is an anti-romcom romcom not an anti-romcom romcom? When it's a romcom!

You will, of course, have seen it before, the anti-romcom romcom. Sleepless in Seattle spends a lot of time deconstructing romcoms, with Rosie O'Donnell famously remarking to Meg Ryan: "A movie! That's your problem! You don't want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie."

The Mindy Project dwells a lot on the inauthenticity of romcoms, as well, explicitly having our heroine, the thirtysomething single doctor Mindy Kaling (played by The Office (US)'s Mindy Lahiri), watching When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle et al religiously since she was a little girl while critiquing their realism.

Yet it wants to have its cake and eat it, by simultaneously following the path trod by Bridget Jones, giving us a woman who doesn't quite fit society's female ideal (she's Indian-American, not a size 0, not very tall and a terrible conversationalist), yet who's clearly fated to end up with the proud, rude Mr Darcyish doctor she's taken against from the first moment, rather than the Hugh Grant-alike she thinks she should end up with.

It's an anti-romcom romcom that dismisses the conventions of romcoms while embracing them. Everything cancels out and it's a romcom.

It's also so far the only genuinely funny new comedy of the Fall season: witty, surprising, clever, with a decent cast, decent characters, a proper plot and almost no recourse to cringe comedy.

Anyone surprised that NBC turned it down? No, me neither.

Here's a trailer.

Continue reading "Review: The Mindy Project (Fox) 1x1"

September 28, 2012

Review: Ben and Kate (Fox/ITV2) 1x1

Posted on September 28, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Ben and Kate

In the US: Tuesdays, 8.30/7.30c, Fox
In the UK: Acquired by ITV2

So I mentioned not so long ago the general tendency of networks to want to make shows just like other shows that are popular right now. Even if those shows are ones they make themselves.

Last year's big comedy success for Fox was New Girl, with Zooey Deschanel. Not so much this season, judging by its viewing figures, but last season, it was doing well.

New Girl, of course, is about a slightly dizzy girl-woman who hasn't quite grown up. She's adorkable. Really, that's the word they made up to describe her. And she is. In small doses.

So what more natural way to build on that success than to have another sitcom about someone who's not quite grown up yet, hey? That'll be funny and entirely not like having nails hammered into your kneecaps by an Algerian torturer, won't it?

Boy, Fox and you were both wrong, Fox when they commissioned Ben and Kate - the show formerly called Ned Fox is My Manny - and you when you decided to watch it. And just now when you went for the "not being tortured by an Algerian psychopath" option. You must be kicking yourself, assuming you still can.

Ben and Kate 'hilariously' looks at a brother and sister - Ben and Kate, in case you hadn't guessed - in which single mother Kate tries to get by in life and make ends meet with the occasional hindrance of her brother Ben, a boy-man - a moronic boy-man at that - who fecklessly breezes in and out of her life, trampling everything in his path like a baby bull elephant on its hind legs. Kate has missed out on a lot in life, having responsibility thrust on her so soon, so Ben decides to move in to look after her daughter, Kate in turn believing that Ben will finally learn what it is to be an adult.

Want a bet that's going to work? And that Ben is tolerable, even in small doses?

Thought not, because not even Lucy Punch as Kate's friend and co-worker BJ (subtle, huh?) can polish this one. Here's a trailer.

Continue reading "Review: Ben and Kate (Fox/ITV2) 1x1"

September 25, 2012

Review: Partners 1x1 (CBS)

Posted on September 25, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Partners (CBS)

In the US: Mondays, 8.30/7.30c, CBS
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Gay men, hey? Who'd employ them? Airheads with low IQs and zero knowledge of the world outside of shoe shops and musical theatre, who'd prefer to gossip rather than work. Over-emotional racist sexual harassers who are more feminine and effeminate than the average woman.

You might as well as well sign up for your complimentary lawsuit and series of written job performance warnings as soon as you've said, "You're hired" to any one of them.

That, at least, is the message you'd be taking away from US TV this fall from shows such as The New Normal and now CBS's Partners. It's like the last 20 years of progress have just disappeared overnight. Tom Hanks in Philadelphia? Was he even gay? In those ensembles? I don't think so.

But for the network that currently has that study in prejudice 2 Broke Girls and the horror story that is Mike and Molly, Partners is a minor hate crime at worst. More troublesome is its unoriginality and almost complete lack of funny moments.

Starring the woefully miscast David Krumholtz (Numb3rs, The Playboy Club) as a semi-alpha male architect and Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) as his lifelong friend and work colleague, the show revolves around Krumholtz and Urie's dominating friendship and the relationship difficulties that their partners - Brandon "I was Superman" Routh and Sophia "I wasn't but I was in One Tree Hill - does that count?" Bush - have as a result of competing with this all-consuming friendship.

If that all sounds familiar, maybe that's because in 1995 there was a sitcom on Fox called Partners. It had the same director (James Burrows) and the same concept (two young male architects, one of whom has a girlfriend, the other vying for his friend's attention). The show's producers, who made Will & Grace, are even big fans of the original.

Who needs original ideas any more? Here's a trailer so you can bask in its desperate, unoriginal unfunniness.

Continue reading "Review: Partners 1x1 (CBS)"

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