New Shows: February 22 - 28, 2014

Now that the Olympics are behind us and March is coming in like a lion, the number of new shows is picking up again. This week ranged from a must-see documentary to the single most offensive show I have ever watched for this column.

The New Shows color code: red means don’t bother; blue means maybe; green means good; magenta means great.

About a Boy (NBC)
NBC is desperate for a new comedy hit. Using the end of the Olympics as its springboard, the network launched two this weekend. This first one shocked me. I went into it expecting it to absolutely suck. It did not. Yes, you know the plot because you’ve either read the book, seen the movie, or both. Even so, I found myself genuinely caring about Will and Marcus and smiling as they got to know each other. Minnie Driver as Fiona is still finding her way, but I intend to keep watching as she does so.

Growing Up Fisher (NBC)
The second NBC sitcom launched at the end of the Olympics isn’t bad, but nor is it fresh or exciting. The twist on the typical family comedy is that Dad, played by the always excellent J.K. Simmons, is blind. Otherwise, this is The Wonder Years (complete with voiceover from the now adult son) told for a new generation. Oddly, we don’t learn son’s name in the pilot. He is referred to by a series of nicknames. I’m sure that’s meant to be a gimmick of some ilk that I missed. I’ve seen much worse comedy pilots, but this is not one I will continue to watch. I’ve already seen it.

2014 Sochi Olympics Closing Ceremony (NBC)

Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman (HBO)
In this very short documentary, the artist Mickalene Thomas has her mother tell her life story to the camera. Although it is hugely personal and interesting, it is far too short. One feels that Sandra Bush was a fascinating woman who deserved to have her story fleshed out a bit more.

Late Night with Seth Myers (NBC)
Fallon has moved to The Tonight Show; Seth Myers has taken over his spot at 12:30. He made me laugh out loud five seconds in as he mimicked Fallon’s thank you notes and thanked Fallon, promising to only do original comedy pieces -- from now on. His guests were Amy Poehler and Joe Biden, both of whom were great fun to listen to and went out of their way to make Myers’ debut a success. Much like The Tonight Show, this won’t be a show I watch every night, but I will tune in once in a while to see how Myers is getting on and what he is up to.

Cryptid: The Swamp Beast (History)
The Injustice Files: Sundown Towns (Investigation Discovery)
No Man’s Land (History)
Private Lives of Nashville Wives (TNT)

Mind Games (ABC)
I was looking forward to this show as it seemed like an interesting mash-up of Numb3rs and Leverage, two of my all time favorite shows. What really piqued my interest is that it is the newest offering from Kyle Killen, the creator of last year’s Awake, which was another amazing show.

I’m not sure how I feel about this one yet. The behavioral science stuff was interesting, but the two leads didn’t really grab me. Steve Zahn plays the bipolar brother as a bit too crazy. Christian Slater plays a brother whom, we discover in the final twist, is truly wretched. As I am not tempted to root for either of them -- yet -- it leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I will watch another episode or two to make up my mind.

Chrome Underground (Discovery)
Clash of the Ozarks (Discovery)
Game of Arms (AMC)

Mixology (ABC)
Some shows are so horrible, it astounds me that they ever get made. This is one of those shows. Based upon the premise that everyone is looking for love in a bar, it is an excuse for the producers and the writers to express how much they hate women. Seriously. Here are some examples of the ‘humor’ from the first episode:
  • “The higher the heels, the looser she feels.”
  • “You are a Viking. You rape and you pillage and you take what is yours. But, you know, don’t really rape her.”
  • Of the narrator’s best friend’s ex, “I thought she was a whore.”
  • “If I talked like that to Don Draper, he would smack me in the mouth. That is a man.” Later, the same woman proclaims that, “We all need a man, all right, who isn’t afraid to say, ‘I’m not going jeans shopping with you. I’m a man. Respect my balls, woman.’”
  • “There are a few girls here I can smash out. Look at that chick over there throwing up. I’m gonna bang her out!” Why should we worry about consent when we can laugh at a woman being too drunk to say no?
Luckily, most of America seems to agree with me. This show has the dubious distinction of being the lowest-rated premiere in the post Modern Family spot ever. Here’s hoping last call is very, very soon.

Ali G: Rezurection (FXX)
House of Horrors: Kidnapped (Investigation Discovery)
Road to Sturgis (Discovery America)
Unsung Hollywood (TV1)

Countdown to the Oscars (ABC)
Exactly what you would expect. Interviews with the nominees and Ellen DeGeneres who is this year’s host, clips from the nominated films, and clips of early work done by the nominees. The best part was a segment on what Gary Sinise is doing to help wounded veterans that moved me to tears. Overall, a mindless hour that didn’t really get me any more excited for Sunday than I already am.

The Red Road (Sundance)
Last year, a series on Sundance was sure to garner a great review from me. Top of the Lake, Rectify, and The Returned were all brilliant television and among the best shows of the year. I went into this show with expectations high. Unfortunately, they were not met, not even close. Set in a community sharply divided by a Lenape community and a white community, this show is meant to be dark and mysterious, filled with characters we are meant to get to know over the course of the six hours. The plot, however, has been done (good cop is blackmailed into helping the ex-con with a moral code) and the characters have been done. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t up to the Sundance standard. One and done for me.

Joe Rogan: Live from the Tabernacle (Comedy Central)
Frenetic, profane and not funny. That is all.

Game of Stones (Discovery)
Inside Job (TNT)
Save Our Business (TNT)

Twenty Feet From Stardom
Those of you who read my columns regularly know how much I love music. Well, this documentary was made for me. Over an hour and a half, we meet some of the greatest backup singers ever and we get to listen to them sing. Their stories are inspiring; the music is uplifting; I sang along for ninety minutes. This is the fifth of the five documentaries nominated for an Oscar. If it were up to me, this would walk away with the prize.

The Oscars ceremony kicks off Sunday night at 5:30 Eastern. Come join the fun as sunbunny (@DouxReviews) and I (@christinebohner) will be live tweeting during the event and then posting our reactions to the ceremony, the winners, and the fashions soon after it ends.

Bates Motel returns Monday at 9:00 on A&E.


Billie Doux said...

I'd never heard of Mixology. Now I'm glad. It sounds horrendous. Bleah.

Scott Riggan said...

I love the book so much and liked the movie enough that a TV series adaptation of "About A Boy" worries me. I know that a poor adaptation doesn't erase the original, but still ... I'm a little afraid to give it a shot.

I LOVED "Twenty Feet From Stardom." Entertaining, enlightening, charming, funny, inspiring - as a musician and singer myself I thought it was nearly perfect. And Lisa Fischer - who I hadn't heard of before this - may have the most extraordinary voice the world has ever heard.

sunbunny said...

Late Night was good. Seth seemed nervous the first night, but he's a really funny guy so I have faith. My favorite part of his first show was the story of the guy fixing his wife's car while he held a small dog in a sweater.

Is it bad I sort of want to watch Mixology now? I wish to be offended too! The way you describe it it sounds sort of like HIMYM where everyone is a charmless Barney.

Twenty Feet from Stardom has been on my 'watch this' list forever. Glad you like it so much!

mazephoenix said...

Mixology sounds vile. The show with Christian Slater will get a shot due to my nostalgia over Heathers.

mazephoenix said...

Mind Games was terrible. Even Slater couldn't save it so I'm gone. All that shouting and overacting..yikes.

ChrisB said...

I with you, mazephoenix. I couldn't get through the second episode, so it's gone from my list as well.