US TV

Review: American Horror Story 1×1-1×2

American Horror Story

In the US: Wednesdays, 10pm, FX
In the UK: Mondays, 10pm, FX UK. Starts November 7th

A new horror show from the creators of Glee!

Yes, Glee. Psyched now? Of course, not.

But then, when Glee was announced as a charming new show from the creators of Nip/Tuck about a High School glee club, there was a similar reaction, so let’s just say “a new horror show from the creators of Nip/Tuck” and take it from there.

Anyway, American Horror Story is something of a misnomer in that it’s not just one horror story, it’s actually every single American horror story ever, more or less, particularly the ones from the movies: there’s The Amityville Horror, Psycho, The Shining, Don’t Look Now, Rosemary’s Baby and more, all rolled up into one big story in which Dylan McDermott (The Practice, Dark Blue) and Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) move into a spectacularly haunted house in LA with their teenage daughter and have to deal with everything from a two-faced maid, ghosts and a weird melted man who murdered his family to a gimp and a boy who might also be a demon.

And the theme of this big story? What do the creators of Nip/Tuck and Glee think is the ultimate ‘American Horror Story’? Family – and sex, apparently, and plenty of it.

Here’s a trailer:

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US TV

Review: Last Man Standing 1×1-1×2

Last Man Standing

In the US: Tuesdays, 8/7c, ABC

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.

Isn’t that nice of the producers – and me?

Here’s a trailer.

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The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 2

Third-episode verdict: Suburgatory

In the US: Wednesdays, 8.30/7.30c, ABC

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.

Thursday’s “renewal, cameos and serial killer whisperer” news

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