The TV.com Staff Takes On the New Network Comedies of Fall 2013

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The fall TV season has officially begun! What's worth watching, and what's not worth your time? The TV.com team has screened the inaugural episodes of nearly every new fall series in an attempt to help you decide—below, you'll find multiple (and sometimes contradictory) opinions of each network newbie. Pilots will be pilots, of course, and lots of shows get better once they've had a chance to settle in. But that's why we'll be back in a few weeks with the TV.com 4-Episode Test, where we'll check back in with these freshman series as they find their footing. For now, first impressions are all that matter. 

Below, you'll find our take on which new network comedies are looking good, bad, average, and just plain ugly; once you're done here, check out what we thought of the season's new network dramas!


Dads


Premiered: Tuesday, September 17 at 8pm on Fox 

TIM: Dads may not the WORST new show of the new fall season, but it's morally absent, contains some of the laziest humor I've seen on TV in years, stains the resumés of several talented people, and just flat-out forgets to be funny. Need more of a reason to pass? Here's my review of the series premiere.

KAITLIN: It might be sleep deprivation, but I didn't hate this like the rest of the world. It wasn't really all that funny aside from a stray chuckle here or there, but I wasn't offended by it like I was led to believe I would be. The jokes that so many people took offense to struck me as lazy writing more than anything else. I'd never watch it every week, but if I was bored and flipping through channels, I might stick with it.

JEN: This year's Whitney; nearly everything you've heard is true. The scene where the two dads both tried to avoid paying for lunch was utterly painful. Bad Asian jokes (er, jokes about Asian people that are bad, not jokes about Bad Asians). Warner's relationship with his wife is stupid. There was actually a scene where the principal cast huddles around a dick pic to trade one-liners about it. 

CORY: Even though I generally hate everything Seth MacFarlane does, I spent this summer trying to convince myself to give Dads a chance. It's easy for the echo-chamber of social media to take over and make it seem like things are better or worse than they are, and I sort of hoped that Dads had fallen victim to the latter. Of course, I was supremely wrong. It's offensive, it's stale, and mostly importantly, it's not funny. The cast deserves better, and maybe Dads will get there eventually, but I kind of hope it doesn't have the opportunity to do so.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine


Premiered: Tuesday, September 17 at 8:30pm on Fox

TIM: The way Brooklyn Nine-Nine bounces between workplace comedy and cop comedy is the next step in evolution for the genre, and its great cast makes it feel like a show that's already been around for a couple seasons. Want more detail? Check out my series premiere review!

KAITLIN: I didn't expect to enjoy this. Even though I like Andy Samberg, he's definitely not for everyone. But he works in this, and the supporting cast is just as great. My favorite new comedy of the season.

JEN: Far, far better than expected. Andy Samberg has never bothered me THAT much, but if you haven't liked him in the past, don't let him scare you off, because he's not so bad here. Andre B. is amazing. This could be Fox's next hit.

CORY: The Parks and Recreation comparisons are inevitable, so I'm just gonna roll with it. This pilot is better and funnier than the first episode of Parks and Rec (which was basically awful), but it also felt pretty similar in that Mike Schur and Dan Goor just wanted to get all these really talented people together and figure the rest out later. Andy Samberg is better than you might think, and although Andre Braugher probably deserves better, he also deserves a show that lasts for a while. This should be it.


Mom


Premieres: Monday, September 23 at 9:30pm on CBS

TIM: What if I told you that a Chuck Lorre multi-camera comedy was pretty funny, not insulting, and had a lot of heart? You'd say I was crazy, right? Well ship me off to the loony bin because Mom is on the good side of decent!

KAITLIN: You can't go wrong with Allison Janney. And Anna Faris is really quite good as well. The show has feelings, and it made me laugh. It definitely has promise.

JEN: Sure, it has heart, but I thought the pilot was kinda cheesy. Although, it's a Chuck Lorre comedy on CBS; it could've been... dirtier? Ultimately, there's some real potential here—Anna Faris is awesome, Allison Janney's always fun to have around, and I don't think the show will be quite as "Hey, raunchy = edgy, right?" as some of CBS's other offerings. I'll give it a shot.


The Goldbergs


Premieres: Tuesday, September 24 at 9pm on ABC

TIM: I felt neither joy nor sadness while watching this mediocre but unoffensive comedy. Jeff Garlin yells a lot and the '80s references are a little overwhelming (we get it, it's the '80s), but it's a comfortable update of The Wonder Years.

KAITLIN: I don't love it, but I don't hate it either. Wendi McLendon-Covey is probably the funniest part about this '80s-set sitcom. I could see it sticking around for awhile.

JEN: I like Jeff Garlin, but like Tim and Kaitlin, I was relatively unmoved by this one. Of course, that doesn't mean it won't improve; it's not even bad to begin with. It's pretty standard Wonder Years 2.0, and there ain't nothing wrong with nostalgia. I'm still on the fence about whether to name the show as one of my Dead Pool picks; I think it's going to get killed in the ratings against NCIS:LA, and The Voice, Supernatural, and New Girl, but if ABC shuffles its schedule around, it could pair nicely with The Neighbors or The Middle or one of its other family comedies and do okay. 


Trophy Wife


Premieres: Tuesday, September 24 at 9:30pm on ABC

TIM: A charming take on the new family structure in the Age of Divorce without being a jerk about it, Trophy Wife works by taking a potentially disastrous situation and giving it some heart and soul. Akerman is great as the new MILF, and the strong supporting cast is a joy to watch. Of all the shows that've tried to emulate Modern Family's successful formula, this one comes the closest.

KAITLIN: I'm naturally predisposed to love everything Bradley Whitford does, but I genuinely laughed and loved this this comedy that played to each cast member's strengths.

JEN: The title's not so great—doesn't anyone remember what happened to Cougar Town?—but I enjoyed this pilot quite a bit. Bradley Whitford and Malin Ackerman are both excellent. The show's Tuesday timeslot has me wondering why ABC didn't put it on Wednesdays alongside Modern Family; with some decent support I think it could succeed. Here's hoping it's a sleeper hit.


Back in the Game


Premeires: Wednesday, September 25 at 8:30pm on ABC

TIM: Solid family dynamics, and Maggie Lawson make this a home run! Well, it's a least a double or a clutch single or a nice catch or a good take on a borderline pitch. (You're welcome for that amazing wordplay.) However, I think there's a lot more to this show than just kids playing in the grass, and it could be a nice player in ABC's comedy lineup. 

KAITLIN: While its setup is predictable, it's also enjoyable. James Caan and Maggie Lawson FTW! Oh, and the kid is pretty good too.

JEN: As of the pilot, I think Back in the Game is just okay. The cast plays off each other nicely, but the the-little-band-of-misfits-who-could premise isn't enough to win me over just yet. It'll definitely require the ol' Four-Episode Test.


The Crazy Ones


Premieres: Thursday, September 26 at 9pm on CBS

TIM: This one's emotionally manipulative and falsely triumphant. It's David E. Kelley at his blandest, and despite being off television for a while, Robin Williams still knows how to ramble and scare me. Plus, it's about advertisers... bleh!

KAITLIN: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robin Williams, and James Wolk deserve better than this sad excuse for a comedy. Makes you wonder what they saw in the script that made them go, "Yeah! This is the show I want to do!"

JEN: I didn't hate it! In fact, I actually even liked it. It's hard to imagine Mad Men working as a comedy starring Robin Williams, but it feels like that's what The Crazy Ones is going for. I have the same reservations about Williams' starring role as lots of people have/had with regard to Andy Samberg on Brooklyn Nine-Nine; your personal tolerance for Williams may be what makes or breaks The Crazy Ones for you. Call me, er, Crazy, but once you get past the pilot's unfortunate Kelly Clarkson-starring McDonald's sex song, there's a glimmer of hope here. Tim's right about the manipulative factor, though.  


The Michael J. Fox Show


Premieres: Thursday, September 26 at 9pm on NBC

TIM: Good family comedies are all about great family dynamics, and this is a family that I'd like to be part of. Fox himeslf is fantastic and the humor is solid. And come on, who doesn't like a good Parkinson's joke or 10?

KAITLIN: All of the pieces fit together in this comedy. The jokes are funny, the cast is superb, and I've been waiting for Katie Finneran to find a TV show worthy of her talents. Plus, who doesn't love Michael J. Fox? It's great to see him make his TV return on something of quality.

JEN: I sat down and watched all three of the episodes that NBC sent out for review, and I really enjoyed it. Michael J. Fox is great, Betsy Brandt is great, the cast has the makings of a nice ensemble, the humor is decent—I don't really have any complaints, although some folks will think it's manipulative instead of meta with regard to making jokes about Fox's Parkinson's disease. While I'm still not sure whether it'll be an absolute must-watch for me, it's definitely a strong addition to NBC's in-transition Thursday-night comedy block (which is way more than can be said for Sean Saves the World).

CORY: I've only seen the pilot of The Michael J. Fox Show, and it spends much of its running time basically announcing to people that it's okay to laugh at Fox's condition. That's not a bad approach by any means, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The cast supports the premise nicely, and assuming that subsequent episodes figure out what the show actually is, NBC might have the family sitcom it's so desperately wanted. 


We Are Men


Premieres: Monday, September 30 at 8:30pm on CBS

TIM: How about that cast? And how about that waste of that cast? Another sorry comedy about men being men that makes me embarrassed to be a man. Free Tony Shalhoub! Free Kal Penn! Free Jerry O'Connell! Actually, you can keep Jerry O'Connell.

KAITLIN: Aside from the first 30 seconds of the pilot, I completely hated every second of this. Haven't we suffered through enough "comedies" about dudes being dudes?

JEN: It made me chuckle that We Are Men's opening scene is basically cribbed from the Happy Endings pilot—all it's missing are some rollerblades. Somehow that gives me hope; remember how much Happy Endings grew on us? This cast is good! But this premise is so, so terrible. Jerry O'Connell's character is icky. In the end, though, the show could be worse. 


Super Fun Night


Premieres: Wednesday, October 2 at 9:30pm on ABC

TIM: This is what happens when a network has a "hot" star and wants to build a series around them but has no ideas, no decent script, no shame, and just says, "F it, we're doing this!" I was physically ill watching the pilot.

KAITLIN: This ruined both Wicked's "Defying Gravity" and Rebel Wilson for me. And why did they force her to use an American accent? I want that 22 minutes of my life back.

JEN: Pretty bad, even with its decent cast. The characters are duds, and I hate seeing people walk around offices with cardboard boxes full of desk stuff, as Rebel Wilson's does; no one shows up to their first day on the job like that. The pilot is full of silly setups and exposition-y bits, and I didn't particularly care for it because it was super predictable and not very fun, but I do think there's a slight chance the show could get its shit together later on. I want Liza Lipira to land a regular role that lasts, and the friendship between the three ladies could be interesting.


The Millers


Premieres: Thursday, October 3 at 8:30pm on CBS

KAITLIN: This is definitely not the best new comedy of the fall, but it's far from the worst. All fart jokes aside, Margo Martindale and Will Arnett are great.

JEN: Hmmm... On one hand, it's a multi-camera sitcom on CBS, so yes, it's got a laugh track; Margo Martindale's character does a lot of gas-passing in the pilot; it's another entry in this season's unfortunate trend of parents infringing on their adult children's lives. On the other hand, it's got Will Arnett, Margo Martindale, J.B. Smoove, Jayma Mays, and Nelson Franklin, all of whom I like; it was created by Greg Garcia, and while I never watched My Name Is Earl, I do enjoy Raising Hope; it has a slight Everybody Loves Raymond vibe. Basically, it could turn out okay. Not great, but okay.  


Welcome to the Family


Premieres: Thursday, October 3 at 8:30pm on NBC

TIM: The setup is tired—families from different cultures come together—and Welcome to the Family doesn't add anything new. It's not as bad as some of the season's other new comedies, but it has something worse going for it: It will definitely be the first new comedy of the year that I forget ever existed. You may as well start forgetting about it now.

KAITLIN: The premise is tired, and I would like to throw it out the window, but Mike O'Malley and Ricardo Chavira successfully anchored the pilot, leading to several chuckles I didn't expect. Do I lose points for laughing at the phrase "special sex pants"? I probably do, right? Damn.

JEN: The individual family members on this show are all fine, and some of them are even good; in particular, I like Mike O'Malley and Mary McCormack as the parents of a ditzy daughter who gets knocked up by her Stanford-bound valedictorian boyfriend. Overall, though, while there's nothing egregious about Welcome to the Family, there isn't anything compelling about it either. I could watch more, sure, but I don't yet see a reason to not watch other shows instead. 

CORY: Mike O'Malley's Cool Dad phase continues, and much like on Glee, he's the best part of Welcome to the Family. This is basically an ABC Family show done with more attempted comedy, which is fine. I could see it being much better in February, once the characters are a little more defined and there's not as much all-caps FAMILY SQUABBLING. 


Sean Saves the World


Premieres: Thursday, October 3 at 9pm on NBC

TIM: This is a throwback to those comedies of the '90s—one of the really, really bad ones. You know NBC's "broad comedy" initiative that we all knew meant "boring comedy"? This is that. The laugh track is particularly foul, and I don't see why NBC thinks Sean Hayes is going to save the network. Painful.

KAITLIN: Megan Hilty should go back to Broadway, because this comedy is so lifeless I'm not sure how it made it past the pilot stage at all. It's most definitely going to be die a quick death. The jokes are either too long or too cringe-inducing (and in some cases, both). I'm embarrassed for Sean Hayes. 

JEN: What Tim and Kaitlin said. This is pretty bad. It's really contrived, it's really lazy, it makes really dumb attempts at physical comedy, and the laugh track just makes everything worse. Another decent cast wasted. Remember that time Louie flashed back to Louie acting on a sitcom and getting upset at how trite the material was? This whole show is like what that scene was written to be, and I felt like Louie getting upset at it. Take a cue from the promo photo above and run away before those couch-jumpers land on you. 

CORY: NOOOOPE. I like Sean Hayes as a person as much as you can like a celebrity you don't know, and he used to be really funny. But the key phrase there is used to. Putting him in this role is simply played out, and the show's three-camera style doesn't help it feel any less outdated. The choice to put this on at 9pm is also pretty weird.



NEXT:

The TV.com Staff Takes On the New Network Dramas of Fall 2013

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