Today, I am feeling charitable. Here we have Last Man Standing (not to be confused with Last Man Standing), Tim Allen's return to sitcoms, in which he finds himself out of work and his wife getting a promotion, so finds himself having to stay at home to look after the kids and the house. His character is a clueless embodiment of patriarchy and "manliness", a man's man who loves rooms that "smell like balls" and thinks men should only dance when people are shooting at their feet, who has no idea what Glee is, and takes babies to Blowdart and Shotgun emporia. It's also a single camera comedy with an annoying laughter track and no fewer than five nuclear power stations flooding every set with over-lighting.
Normally, I would hate it and hit it with bricks.
And I do still largely hate it, because it's barely in any way funny, largely trying to get by on obvious and offensive one-liners that really should be shot at and forced to dance.
But instead, I'm going to be charitable and claim it's educational. Yes, educational. It may suck, but like all the new multi-camera comedies this season that are virtually laugh-free (e.g. 2 Broke Girls, Whitney), lots of Americans are watching it (13m in this case) and the kinds of people who are watching it probably need to know what a vlog is, understand that throwing giant fish they've just caught onto their children's homework is bad, and need to know that it's okay for men to stay at home and look after the kids.
Well, the Carusometer hasn't seen anything like this before – not that it can see much from behind those Shades of Justice, sometimes. What can have gone on here with Suburgatory? Two absolutely cracking episodes, full of fun, warmth, pathos and satirical bite that lift it head and shoulders above the rest of the comedy field, even Modern Family these days. Then stuck right in the middle was a near laugh-free suckfest. What happened there?
Oh yes. Different writer.
So if there's a quick lesson to be learnt about Suburgatory, it's that as long as Emily Kapnek is writing it, it's likely to be brilliant; if she's not, it's not.
Other than that, I've not much to add since the first episode. The cast is great, especially Cheryl Hines and Jane Levy (an odd junior combination of Emma Stone's snark and hair and Gillian Jacobs's facial expressions). The writing's great. Watch it.
Carusometer rating: 1 (Emily Kapnek only); 2 (on aggregate) Rob's prediction: As long as Emily Kapnek does as much of the writing as possible, it should run and run. Will certainly last a season.
So here's one of those vexing shows that comes along every so often. Prime Suspect is well made, it has a good cast and it has strong scripts. Characterisation is a bit flunky, sure, and any similarity to the original UK series disappeared after the first episode, but it's still a very good procedural. And I do love Maria Bello.
But despite its getting a good score on the Carusometer, I have absolutely no interest in watching any more episodes of this show whatsoever. It doesn't really do much that's new at all. Bello's tough as nails, glad-not-to-be-a-mother, hard-drinking female cop is reasonably different from most other female cops. But any hint that the show was going to challenge institutional sexism mostly went during the first episode and disappeared altogether in the third episode, Bitch, where it was shown that the basic problem was Timony's grating personality rather than misogyny on the part of her colleagues. Although we now actually have a prime suspect each episode, each case is closed before the end of each episode with minimal effort. It's just unremarkable.
So although I'm sure, if you're the kind of person who likes a well executed, episodic police procedural, this will work for you, I'm going to give it a miss from now on.
Carusometer rating: 2 Rob's prediction: Dead by the end of the season
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A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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Praise for the blog Cision: fourth most important UK TV blog Blogging Edge: Blogger running Britain 2013
"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
"Billing itself as 'officially the fourth most popular UK TV blog', there are several whimsical regulars here that could help it climb as high as number three…"
I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.