The first five or six weeks of the Fall Television season have come and gone and the TiVo has been chugging away here at the Pony household. Back in August we finally cut the cord and dropped our cable tv subscription, so now a small antenna and streaming services provide just about everything we watch. I remember as a kid there were ‘The Big Three’ networks, and that’s where we’re living now. Not quite three, but you get my drift. CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox provide a lot of our entertainment these days. It’s a different world.
I realize now how little we used to watch on regular network tv. We’d mainly spend time with Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, Mr. Robot, or The Walking Dead. Network television mostly didn’t make it onto our dance card, there was always something better elsewhere (ok, my wife has been addicted to The Good Wife from day one). But now that we’re watching more of the big three/four, there are some really entertaining shows that have popped onto our screen this Fall. Here are three. If you haven’t watched them yet, start now! I don’t want to see any of these cancelled. 🙂
And I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers. But then, spoilers are sometimes in the eye of the spoiled. If you’re the type that doesn’t want to know that SuperGirl wears blue and red, I can’t help you. There’s a limit to spoilage!
Imagine HBO’s Girls without the nudity and given a healthy dose of Glee. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a bit like that, or maybe that Buffy episode where everyone suddenly starts singing out of nowhere (Once More With Feeling). It’s quirky, the lead is charming, but midway through the pilot you may be wondering why you’re watching this. All of the characters seem unlikable. Maybe a bit despicable. But by the pilot’s end the characters are righting themselves, supporting each other, and dealing with the ambiguity that is life in West Covina, California. That’s where the lead character has settled. After leaving a high-paying job in Manhattan. To chase a teenage crush (a crush she had as a teenager, not literally chasing teenagers. Ewwww). She’s a bit obsessed, and her perspective is wonderfully absent.
If you’re not sure, look it up online and just watch the opening credits for any episode past the pilot. Or click here and watch the song ‘West Covina’. That’ll help you decide. If you hurry you can get caught up on Hulu (all the episodes are still within Hulu’s viewing window for now) or online at the network’s website. Watch it Mondays at 8pm on the CW. Laugh. It’s about being awkward and weird and a bit lost in life. I think you’ll like it.
By the way, since Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is on the CW, maybe it’s the Big Five networks now…
If you’re reading this you’re probably a friend of mine. Because, well, this blog is brand new and I suspect only my friends are reading it so far. Which means the odds are pretty good that you’re a bit geeky, so you’ve probably already consumed the technicolor joy that is SuperGirl.
Wow, we’ve only been served up two episodes so far, but what a fun two episodes it’s been. We have terrific effects, a cute but strong lead that just pops with enthusiasm, and a soap-opera setup of villainy. What’s not to like?
But the best part, the scripts are aware of what we expect and they play along. They tease us, set us up, and then twist thing around a bit. We expect the usual tropes, right? She’ll work at a paper, she’ll be a little nerdy like Clark Kent, she’ll have to protect her secret identity, and on and on. It should be boring (like most well known origin stories are). But it’s not. The scripts have everyone play just a wee bit off of center. Yes, she’s nerdy and wears glasses while at work. But…she really is kind of nerdy all of the time. She’s brand new to being a hero, and the scripts let her make mistakes. And the villains know she’s going to make mistakes. It just feels more probable. The worst stereotype in the show is Clarissa Flockhart as SuperGirl’s boss. She’s a bit painful to watch, so far she’s a clone of J Jonah Jameson, we’ll have to see if they give the character anything more to do than chew scenery and rant about getting SuperGirl exclusives.
I’m ready for more! Mondays at 8pm on CBS. Wait. Monday’s at eight? Oh no Crazy Ex-Girlfriend! Fortunately DVRs these days record multiple shows at once. Make sure you watch both.
Rob Lowe plays the star of a popular tv law drama called ‘The Grinder’. His character is The Grinder. Literally (see what I did there?). But The Grinder has been cancelled, so Rob moves home to work at an actual law firm run by his brother (Fred Savage, all grown up from the Wonder Years), his dad, and an assortment of oddballs and mystified co-workers. Half of the characters in the show are star-struck by The Grinder, letting him get away with almost anything. And the other half (including Fred Savage) are not. They bear his antics with stunned ‘How is this happening?’ looks of bewilderment.
Everyone in this cast is solid. Just so great. The kids act like believable kids. Fred Savage and his wife have a witty chemistry that is loving, wise, and supportive. The dad and the co-workers are cheerful, nice people that still have quirks. And they’ve brought in Natalie Morales to give Fred someone at the office to commiserate with (you’ll remember her from Parks & Rec, she played Tom Haverford’s Chicago girlfriend). It’s a group of people that you really wouldn’t mind hanging out with. They’re talented and there’s a genuine tone of sweetness under all the crazy.
That’s where the star of the show comes in. Rob Lowe, The Crazy (Grinder). He’s really playing the same role he did on Parks & Rec (literally), but he’s just so winning. Half the time he forgets he’s not on a tv show anymore, he always has an old episode plot that he can mine for a solution to whatever situation he and Fred have landed in. Which of course allows Fred to roll his eyes even more. And for some inexplicable reason this wealthy, famous actor decides to live in his brother’s house. He’s right there to muck about in Fred’s family life as well (The Grinder is great with kids). The Grinder’s role is to always ask ‘But what if we could?’, when it’s obvious you couldn’t (or shouldn’t) pursue what he’s suggesting. The banter between Rob Lowe and Fred Savage is terrific, one playing charmingly oblivious and the other playing the mortified straight man.
It’s fun. And funny. And good natured and sweet. Tuesdays at 8:30pm on Fox. Watch it. Please? I don’t want to be stuck watching re-runs of Dr. Ken come next year.
What are your favorite new shows of the Fall?