Ghosted
US TV

Preview: Ghosted 1×1 (US: Fox)

In the US: Sunday, 8:30/7:30c, Fox. Starts October 1

When The X-Files was at its peak, it spawned numerous imitators and cash-ins, trying to capitalise on its success. Remember Dark SkiesFreakylinks, The Lone Gunmen, Millennium and Miracles? Probably not, because largely it didn’t work. There were lots of reasons for the success of The X-Files, and simply having people (usually a man and a woman) investigating the paranormal wasn’t one of them.

The other, even better remembered phenomenon was spoofs. So many X-Files spoofs. You couldn’t move for them, whether you were watching movies like Men In Black, TV shows like The Simpsons, adverts, late night talk shows or whatever. Hell, there were even songs.

So now that The X-Files has officially returned, it seems appropriate that the spoofs should return and on the show’s home network, Fox, too.

Ghosted

Ghosted sees Adam Scott (Party Down, The Greatest Event in TV History) playing a former Stamford physics professor who’s forced to work in a book store, since everyone thinks he’s crazy – he told them all his wife had been abducted by aliens. Meanwhile, Craig Robinson (The Office (US)) is a mall security guard fired from the police force after his partner was killed.

Oddly, they both get abducted by a secret organisation called The Bureau Underground, run by Ally Walker (Profiler), that investigates weird paranormal things. It seems one of The Bureau’s agents is missing and the last thing he said was that the two nobodies in question were the only people who could help.

Soon, Scott and Robinson are off together, working for The Bureau, looking for the agent and head-removing aliens from other dimensions. That’s the aliens’ own heads, not humans’, mind.

Not a spoof

For the most part, Ghosted gets by on a bit of bickering between Robinson and Scott, Scott saying smart but unhip things, Robinson saying street things, and some stupid alien effects. Should Scott give Robinson a bunk up to look in a window or vice versa, given their relative sizes? Will Robinson see the obvious proof of aliens or will he be looking away at the exact moment they show up?

It’s all gentle, easy stuff, and not especially funny, although some gags do land and are even occasionally clever. A few more laughs are to be had at The Bureau’s HQ thanks to Walker and her minions, particularly Adeel Akhtar (Utopia), who don’t quite act like terrifying Men In Black. And given Scott’s an exec producer, don’t be too surprised that we get a tribute or two to other media, and that the soundtrack is always only ever two chords away from becoming the theme tune to Ghostbusters.

There’s a little twist at the end, but this is far weaker than Fox’s rapidly cancelled Making History, so don’t be holding a torch for this one, as I suspect it won’t last any longer than Night Stalker. Remember that? Thought not.

Young Sheldon
US TV

Review: Young Sheldon 1×1 (US: CBS; UK: E4)

In the US: Thursdays, CBS, 8:30/7:30c. Starts November 2
In the UK: Acquired by E4. To air in 2018

One of the pre-eminent examples of those CBS sitcoms that I mentioned not too long ago that are ‘not nice’ is The Big Bang Theory. This is a show that distinctly failed to impress me when I first watched it and while it’s obviously changed over the years, whenever I’ve tuned in since, it’s still never made it as far as making me laugh.

That said, the character of Sheldon, a genius nerdy astrophysicist with a blunt manner and distain for others’ intellects, is a great comic creation with a great performance by actor Jim Parsons:

It’s just a shame about everything else, really.

Over the years, The Big Bang Theory has revealed a few details of Sheldon’s early life and it was Parsons’ suggestion to the show’s producers that they pitch CBS a prequel series. And here’s Young Sheldon. Confusingly, CBS is only airing  one episode for now, with more to come in November. Genius? No.

Young Sheldon – it’s about young Sheldon

The show is set in east Texas, when Sheldon was nine-year-old a child prodigy (Iain Armitage), just as he’s about to go to high school in the same class with his older but vastly stupider brother (Montana Jordan). Already equipped with an intellect that sets him apart from everyone else and a lack of social skills that do likewise but in a very different way, Sheldon finds school hard and/or unnecessary, depending on which class he’s in, which makes it hard for his devout mother (Zoe Perry) and school football coach father (Lance Barber).

What the show has in common with The Big Bang Theory is that it’s not funny. But the big difference between Young Sheldon and its predecessor is that apart from being a location-filmed, single-camera effort, it’s nice. Just like Me, Myself and I, it’s nice. CBS must be turning over a new leaf or something.

The show, which is more a slightly amusing character drama than sitcom, has genuine sympathy for the child Sheldon who can’t fit in and who needs to wear a bow tie to school and for his family, who know they haven’t even a tenth of his brains between them and have to help him survive school while avoiding becoming social pariahs themselves. When a music teacher is playing a cello and Sheldon joins in on a piano with perfect pitch, despite never having played before, it’s actually a genuinely moving scene as the teacher and child strike up an understanding.

There are a few nods to ‘the mothership’, such as Professor Proton (Bob Newhart) showing up on a TV, and a few of the jokes are only clear if you know the character of Sheldon well. Similarly, as with The Big Bang Theory, Parsons, who narrates the programme, is the one properly funny thing about the show.

But despite not giving a monkey’s about The Big Bang Theory, I did actually enjoy this quite a lot. I don’t know if the general niceness of it all is going to be enough to keep me coming back, but I’m far more likely to watch more episodes of it than I am of its source show.

Me, Myself and I
US TV

Review: Me, Myself and I 1×1 (US: CBS)

In the US: Mondays, CBS, 9.30/8.30c

As we saw yesterday with The Brave, normally it’s NBC that tries to emulate CBS. However, if there’s one thing that NBC has excelled at for years, it’s schmalzy drama, and with This Is Us riding so high in the ratings and critics’ heart (would there it weren’t so schmalzy, because then I’d be able to tune in for Alex Breckenridge), let’s not be too surprised that CBS has decided to copy NBC this time by producing Me, Myself and I, featuring a cast mostly nicked from NBC shows.

It’s CBS, of course, so there are a few changes.

Firstly, it’s all centred on one white male. Again no surprise.

Secondly, it’s billed as a comedy. Except it’s actually not that funny. Again – CBS, so no surprise there either.

Lastly, and what is genuinely surprising, is that it’s really not half bad as a piece of schmalzy drama. I even felt a little emotional at times.

As the show’s title vaguely alludes, My, Myself and I is set in three times in one man’s life. We get to meet ‘Alex Riley’ as a teenager (Jack Dylan Grazer) in 1994, just as he’s moved to Los Angeles with his mum (Mandell Maughan), her new husband (Brian Unger) and his step-brother (Christopher Paul Richards). He’s worried at going to a new school, but he’s an optimistic kid who loves science – and a girl he meets at the bus stop actually seems to be into him (Reylynn Caster).

We also meet him now in 2017 (played by Bobby Moynihan now) as a struggling inventor, shortly after he’s split from his cheating wife (Alison Tolman) and raising his eight-year-old daughter from inside his friend/business partner’s (Jaleel White) garage. He obviously has a few more regrets and seems to have lost that inventing mojo he had as a kid. But he’s still got the future ahead of him.

Finally, we meet Riley in a futuristic 2042 (now played by John Larroquette) as he’s about to retire, having become a hugely successful industrialist, but unsure what to do with his life. He’s full of regrets, although his grown up daughter (Kelen Coleman) ain’t one. But then he bumps into a friend from long ago (spoiler: (spoiler alert) that girl at the bus stop, now played by Sharon Lawrence) and begins to imagine new possibilities.

As you might expect from such a situation, all three narratives interlink as he we learn what happened to the kid to make the man, both positively and negatively; what helps the older man to get his mojo back; and what the old man who seemingly has everything would really rather have. Characters who are important later on pass through the backgrounds of scenes from earlier in Riley’s life without getting mentioned, but of course we realise their importance all the same.

Nice. It’s just nice

And for a CBS comedy, it’s surprisingly nice. Yes, it’s actually nice. Characters aren’t constantly hating and mocking one another. Cringe comedy is kept to a minimum. People you expect to be douches aren’t. There’s kindness and love. Work goes into giving supporting characters their own lives and cares. And dare I say it – you actually like the people involved.

The fact Me Myself and I is billed as a comedy is problematic. The fact it naturally revolves around one man is a little tedious. But if you found This Is Us unbearable or too 70s but liked the idea of a temporally riven drama that’s full of humanity and charm and that’s partially set in the 90s and the future – or even if you fancy a 90s-set Wonder Years – then Me Myself and I could be right up your street.

 

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Baywatch
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including Baywatch, Bang, Get Krack!n and Professor T

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. TMINE recommends has all the reviews of all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended, but for a complete list of TMINE’s reviews of (good, bad and insipid) TV shows and movies, there’s the definitive TV Reviews A-Z and Film Reviews A-Z. But it’s what you have you been watching? I bet it’s better than what I’ve been watching.

And lo! The floodgates have opened. Coincidentally in the week I’m busiest this month. Why couldn’t it have been last week? Pfft.

I’ve already reviewed The Brave (US: NBC) and the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery (US: CBS All Access; UK: Netflix), and I’ve passed a third-episode verdict on The Orville (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK), too. But still in my viewing pile from last night are Young Sheldon (US: CBS; UK: E4) and Me, Myself and I (US: CBS); I’ve still to write a preview of Ghosted (US: Fox), although doesn’t start until October 1; and I have to admit to having been a bit tardy in getting round to watching Bad Blood (Canada: City), too. All of those I hope to review within the next week, but you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll be a bunch of other shows joining them soon.

I’ve only watched one movie this week, Baywatch, so after the jump, I’ll be discussing that along with the latest episodes of Get Krack!n (Australia: ABC), Halt and Catch Fire (US: AMC; UK: Amazon) and The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1). I’ve also been playing catching up with Bang (UK: S4C) and Professor T (Belgium: Eén; UK: More4). More on all of those in a mo.

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