Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Keeping a Bent Life from Breaking

This week Amber West and I review two new 2012 midseason comedy replacements on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – ABC’s Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and NBC’s Bent.

Comedy seems to be at the top of this year’s midseason replacements with many of the networks picking up new sitcoms.  While it is annoying to watch our favorite series end a bit early this year, we can also see the upside to introducing these new programs in April so that the decision makers don’t necessarily cancel a popular show just to test the waters with a pilot (we’ve seen that happen one too  many times).  With this in mind, we’re tuning in to these newbies and trying to not hold any grudges.

Bent follows recently divorced attorney, Alex (Amanda Peet), as she tries to pick up the ”bent” pieces of her life post-divorce.  With sole-custody of her daughter, Alex buys a small home that is in need of renovations.  She hires Pete (David Walton), a contractor who is a recovering gambling addict trying to pick up the pieces of his “bent” life as well.

Alex and Pete...

Alex and Pete are nothing alike — Alex is a responsible person with a no-nonsense personality, while Pete flies by the seat of his pants.  From the first episode, we could already smell the romance brewing between these two and we wonder how long it’s going to take before they get together.  But wouldn’t that be the kiss of death for the new sitcom?  TV audiences have proven over the years that they like the chase and romantic tension between leads, and ratings plummet once the couple gives in to their sexual urges (we’re specifically thinking of Moonlighting here and hoping we don’t see the same fate with Bones).  Not to mention, Alex has a serious boyfriend (Ben, played by Matt Letscher) who can also sense the attraction between Alex and Pete and who conveniently intervenes anytime the two get too close.

Alex and Ben...

That’s right — Bent has a love triangle…

The two leads aren’t the only ones living “bent” lives.  The new comedy also stars Jeffrey Tambor as Pete’s “bent” father, Walt.  Walt is a struggling actor working feverishly to land a new agent since his has recently died.  We’re led to believe he’s never really had a successful career, but he’s positive and has never given up hope.  Walt’s life is also “bent” considering he is still madly in love with his ex-wife (played by Marcia Gay Harden), who is a successful stage actress over in Europe.

Jeffrey Tambor knows comedy...

Pete knows the flame still burns  between his parents, and he knows that his mother will tug at his father’s heart strings before returning to her life overseas; therefore, he tries to keep the two apart.  Pete’s reaction to his parents is almost a realistic, rather than an optimistic approach which is a nice deviation from most fictional characters on television today.

The series also stars Margo Harshman (Sorority Row) as Alex’s sister, Screwsie.   Screwsie is a hoot; while her life is anything but perfect, she does seem a bit less “bent” than the rest.  She owns her own catering business, which seems very lucrative, and she almost always has a drink in her hand (tequila, wine, or coffee).  She’s young and enjoys not being tied down, especially when that means she can manipulate one of Pete’s workers (Gary, played by Jesse Plemons from Friday Night Lights).

Wrapping up the Bent cast is Alex’s daughter, Charlie (played by Joey King from Ramona and Beezus) and the rest of Pete’s contracting crew: Clem (comedian J.B. Smoove) and Vlad (Pasha D. Lychnikoff).

Charlie really likes Pete...

Each episode focuses on the home renovations and at least one other story line.  Honestly, I wonder what will happen if or when the construction job is complete — will the show fizzle out and die, or will Alex find something else to keep Pete and his crew busy?  The general plot idea definitely works at first, but there is also an obvious end to the storyline which leads us to wonder if the creators have thought that far out or if they’re just hoping to get picked up and they’ll take it from there.

While Bent has only aired for three weeks, viewers have been lucky enough for a double dose each of the past three weeks giving us six episodes to date.  I personally love the banter between Alex and Pete; Pete and Ben; Alex, Pete, and Ben; as well as Pete and his crew, and Screwsie (isn’t her name awesome?!?!) and anyone else.  The dialogue is sharp, witty, and a lot of fun.  That said, I award Bent with the JFTV rating.   I’d like to give it more, but I simply can’t; it’s not the best comedy I’ve seen, but it is one of the most enjoyable airing now on Wednesday nights (now that Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea? have aired their season finales).  For the time being, Bent will have to settle as one of my favorite TV snacks…

Before wrapping, I just want to add that David Walton (Pete) is adorable!!  I didn’t really know him before and wondered why they didn’t get someone familiar to play opposite Amanda Peet, but now I am more than happy with the selection.

And by the way, I really love the message of the show — our life can always bend, but it’s up to us whether or not it breaks.  Cheers!

What do you think? Have you watched Bent?  Which character do you like or relate to the most?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.  Thanks to Hulu, she got a sneak peek!  And I don’t know about everyone else, but I am really looking forward to James Van Der Beek, playing James Van Der Beek, and poking a little fun at himself…

Come back next week when Amber and I review two of TV’s newest dramas dealing in scandalous affairs and shady clientele – Scandal and The Client List

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday: A Pick Per Night 2012, The Funny Results

The results of our first Reader’s Choice Tele-Tuesday comedy polls are in.  Last week, we asked our readers one simple question: if you could watch only one comedy per night, what would it be?

We’re watching more comedies than ever here at The Ooo Factor.  While some of our favorite veteran comedies still air today, we may have a different favorite that has taken over on that particular night of the week, and we feel an obligation to update our readers with the 2012 choices.

Did the Tele-Tuesday readers agree with our picks?  Find out today in A Pick Per Night 2012: The Comedies.

Sunday: Other

For us at The Ooo Factor, comedy on Sunday night means Showtime.  And lately, our top choice is Californication.

Hank Moody (David Duchovny) has never met a drug or a woman that he doesn’t love.  Pair that with his recurring writer’s block, and Hank’s life is a disaster just waiting to happen.

The show starts after Hank, and his baby’s momma, Karen (Natascha McElhone) move with their daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin) from New York to Los Angeles.  Joining the Moody clan, is Hanks’ agent/BFF, Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler), and his wife, Marcy (Pamela Adlon), a waxing professional to the stars.

Hank’s successful novel was adapted into a screenplay much to his dismay, and feeling down-n-out, he picks up a hot Mia (Madeline Zima) in a local LA bookstore and beds her.  That is, after all, what Hank Moody does — he beds beautiful women with his alluring charm.  During sex, Mia punches Hank in the face; not long after “the punch,” Hank discovers that Mia is the 16 year old daughter of Karen’s new fiancé.  And, there we have the setting for all five seasons thus far.

Californication is pure brilliance, but raunchy.  One of the most unforgettable scenes took place early in Season 1… let’s just say it involved Hank and Charlie in bed, with a “shooter.”  Watch with caution…. but be prepared to laugh and cry!  In Season 2, Hank is hired to write the biography of a rock star (Callum Keith Rennie) — just what Hank needs, an invitation to party like a rock star! In Season 3, Hank is hired as a college professor — that’s definitely a disaster waiting to happen! One of our favorite laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-our-face scenes aired in Season 4 with the entire cast of characters sitting around Stu’s (Stephen Tobolowsky) dinner table.  Season 5 just ended Sunday night with Hank and Karen hot on the mend of what could be “happily ever after” until one of Hank’s crazy exes shows up and drugs him – classic Californication cliffhanger!!

Reader’s Choice:  Family Guy came in first with 30% of the reader’s vote, with The Simpsons following close behind with 26%.  Is anyone else with us who can’t believe The Simpsons is still on air, airing new episodes?  How many seasons is this?  CRAZY!

Monday: 2 Broke Girls

First we have Max (Kat Dennings) — Manhattan nanny by day and Brooklyn diner waitress by night.  Max has control of her life, a life that’s not extravagant by any means; she has her own apartment, boyfriend, and overall seems happy.  That is until the diner hires a blonde, dressed like she owns the place, to share shifts with her.

Next we meet Caroline (Beth Behrs) — a former Manhattan socialite who has lost everything courtesy of her father’s Ponzi scheme.  Caroline runs away from her life, not that she has a choice, and chooses Brooklyn as her new residence (because according to a Google search, Brooklyn is the least likely place anyone from her former circle visits).

Caroline doesn’t need or use her Ivy-league education and her business and marketing background to wait tables, until she discovers the diner is not selling the tasty cupcakes for enough money — Max’s cupcakes.  Caroline knows that in the city, people will pay $7-$10 a cupcake, and she begins pocketing some extra cash and creates a business plan.  Now, all she needs is Max to hop on board.

Although it’s very difficult for her to do, Max invites Caroline to stay with her.  After a boyfriend mishap, the two bond and despite Max’s constant put-downs, the girls plan to start a new life together and open a cupcakery — Max is the talent and Caroline is the brains.  We’ve seen both characters grow during the first half of season one, even if their cupcake funds haven’t (at the end of each episode, the cupcake savings tallies on the screen for the audience – the girls have a long way to go to reach $250,000).

We only set the pilot of 2 Broke Girls to record so we could say, “We checked it out.”  After all, the sitcom is created by Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City) and comedian Whitney Cummings, and it fills a very popular time slot between CBS’ How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men.   But after only one episode, we returned to the series option on the DVR and updated the recording to grab all of the new episodes.   Even the man of the house has watched a few episodes and laughs out loud, even if he won’t admit it.

Reader’s Choice: How I Met Your Mother came in first with 35% of the vote.  We’re also big HIMYM fans here at Tele-Tuesday, but our previous Monday night favorite was bumped this year for multiple reasons.

#1 – Many of the 2011-2012 episodes have ended on a very sad note; we thought this was supposed to be a comedy?
#2 – Maybe, just maybe, the writers are dragging out the story of how Ted meets his kids’ mother a bit too long?
#3 – We laugh out-loud at 2 Broke Girls more than we do at HIMYM, including Barney’s classic ‘isms.

Tuesday: New Girl

New Girl stars Zooey Deschanel  as Jess Day, a likeable young teacher piecing together her life after a breakup.  Many words can be used to describe Jess: adorable, goofy, vulnerable, faithful, awkward, and offbeat — or as Fox advertises, adorakable.

She finds a “roommate wanted” situation via Craig’s List and moves in with three single men — the bartender Nick (Jake Johnson), the Casanova-like Schmidt (Max Greenfield), and the former European basketball star, Winston (Lamorne Morris).   The men, and Jess’ best friend Cece (Hannah Simone) help teach Jess and themselves all about life, love, and the ever-important self.

The opening number of New Girl is the only introduction that literally has us bobbing our heads back and forth and singing along with it.  That may not be a reason to watch a television show, but it surely doesn’t hurt.  “Hey, girl!  What’cha doin’?”  …  “Who’s that girl?  Who’s that girl?  It’s JESS!”  Okay, so everyone probably needs to hear the music to enjoy along with us.

That said, every single one of the actors and actresses in New Girl has beautiful comedic timing.  Zooey Deschanel tops the funny chart, with Jake Johnson (Nick) following close behind.  But who steals the show?  Max Greenfield (Schmidt).

Schmidt is a mess!  Is he gay?  No; he’s straight and he beds many beautiful women (including Jess’ best friend, Cece — but that’s a secret, for now).  Just when viewers are convinced Schmidt is straight, he makes some other comment or action that leads us to believe he’s gay.  Does it matter?  Absolutely not!  Is he believable in both roles?  Yes!  Do we love his “Schmidtisms”?  Without a doubt!!

But most of all, New Girl portrays life as it is — not simple, not full of hand-outs, and always in motion.  The friendships between the characters serves as the glue that holds everything together, but the character growth may be the “it” factor that keeps New Girl around for a long time…

Reader’s Choice: None came in first with 43% of the vote.

Yikes!!  So if no one is watching a sitcom on Tuesday nights, may we recommend New Girl?  Seriously.  Where are our New Girl fans?  Talk it up in the comments and maybe, just maybe, we can convert some viewers!

Wednesday: Whitney

Developed, written, and starring comedian Whitney Cummings, Whitney follows the fictionalized story of her life experiences, challenges in relationships we can all relate to — like cohabitation, friendships, secrets, and boundaries.  Whitney lives with her long-term boyfriend, Alex (Chris D’Elia), and the non-traditional couple sees no reason to get married, but remains happily ever after nonetheless.

The duo is surrounded by their friends: Lily (Zoe Lister-Jones), who believes in happily ever after, Roxanne (Rhea Seehorn), a relationship cynic, Neal (Maulik Pancholy) who appears to be in a perfect relationship with Lily but later decides he may actually like men instead, and Mark (Dan O’Brien), the self-proclaimed ultimate bachelor.

Each week, we laugh throughout the thirty minute series.  Whitney is perfect viewing for couples to watch together.  One of our favorite episodes is when Whitney walks in on Alex’s “alone” time (trying to keep the blog clean here…).

Needless to say, Alex was and is completely mortified, and Whitney begins knocking on her own apartment door to announce when she arrives home each time after the incident.  The episode continues as Whitney confesses the day’s events to her friends, further embarrassing Alex.

Which brings us to the relatable part: what’s safe to share with outsiders, even those we love the most, when working through moments that take place between lovers and partners?

This sitcom might perhaps evoke more giggles in our house than our previous favorite (How I Met Your Mother), courtesy of the relatability and laugh factors for men and women alike.

Reader’s Choice:  South Park came in first with 25% of the vote, with Modern Family at a close second with 21%.

First of all, this is shocking.  While we do like South Park, we are floored that more people didn’t vote for Modern Family.  We really, really thought it would be the show to beat.

Wednesday was the toughest of the days to choose from for us at Tele-Tuesday.  While we obviously selected Whitney from our blurb above, Suburgatory starring Jeremy Sisto deserves a mention (it came in toward the bottom with only 7% of the vote).  The relationship between George and Tess (father and daughter) is touching, but the real Ooo Factor love goes to screen-stealers Dallas (Cheryl Hines) and Noah (Alan Tudyk).  Only 7% of the vote….  Where’s our Suburgatory fan club?  Will someone join us in trying to convince our readers to check it out?

Thursday: Archer

Not offended by South Park? Love to watch Family Guy? FX has introduced Archer – pure animation brilliance.  Meet ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Service):

Sterling Archer — an alcoholic, sex crazed secret agent, who also happens to be a breast cancer survivor (Team Rampage!).  Think James Bond meets Hank Moody…

Malory Archer — Archer’s alcoholic, nymphomaniac mother/boss, whose apparent affair with the leader of the KGB resulted in Archer’s birth (although we’re still awaiting confirmation).   Think Miss Moneypenny…

Lana Kane — Archer’s sexy bombshell ex-girlfriend/partner who wants to be #1, and always wears her machine gun around her shoulder like a purse .   Think Lara Croft…

Cheryl — ISIS’ billionaire secretary with an S&M fetish.

Pam — The Human Resource director and head-gossip, who is as sex crazed as the rest of the team.

Archer’s 30-minutes of raunchy humor are an absolute must see!  I mentioned raunchy, right?

Archer is also the only one of the comedies that actually made our A Pick Per Night 2011 list.  And here it is again, staying strong in 2012.  Seems it has something going for it…

Reader’s Choice: The Big Bang Theory came in first with 63% of the total vote.  This is the largest winning margin than any other show (comedy or drama).  Now this, we expected…

Did your favorite comedy win?  If not, what is it and tell us why it should have?  For those that love New Girl and Suburgatory, share with us why others should check these two new sitcoms out!  We’d love to hear from you! 

 

Tele-Tuesday: Reader’s Pick Per Night, The Comedy Polls

A few weeks ago, the Tele-Tuesday readers had the chance to vote on which television dramas they can’t live without in a Pick Per Night 2012.  Today, we want to know which comedies reign supreme.

If we’ve learned anything year after year, we’ve learned that as time passes, people change.   We’ve also learned to adapt to other changes as well, like the revolving door of television programs.

The networks update their television schedules drastically over the course of a year, sometimes in just a matter of months.  We have fall premieres, winter premieres, summer premieres, and this new thing called midseason replacements.  Comedy seems to be at the top of this year’s midseason replacements with sitcoms such as Bent and the upcoming Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and Best Friends Forever.

And while the constant change to our network favorites continues to waffle, we must remember one thing — to laugh.

We’re watching more comedies than ever here at The Ooo Factor.  While some of our favorite veteran sitcoms still air today, we may have a different favorite that has taken over on a particular night of the week and we feel an obligation to update our readers with our 2012 choices.  But before we do, we’d like to know what everyone else watches.

If you could choose only one comedy per night, what would it be?

We’re omitting Friday and Saturday from the polls because there doesn’t appear to be any sitcoms on during the prime time hours.  Whatever happened to TGIF?  Remember those days?

Did your favorite comedy make the list?  If not, what is it?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Next week, we will announce what our viewers prefer to watch and what we here at Tele-Tuesday mark as our #1 must watch funny program in a Pick Per Night 2012: the Comedies.

 

Tele-Tuesday: The Hot New Thing – Midseason Replacements

If we’ve learned anything year after year, we’ve learned that as time passes, people change.   We’ve also learned to adapt to other changes as well, like the revolving door of television programs.

The networks update their television schedules drastically over the course of a year, sometimes in just a matter of months.  We have fall premieres, winter premieres, summer premieres, and now we have this new set of TV programs called midseason replacements.

Does a “midseason replacement” mean that the veteran show it is replacing midseason has actually been cancelled?  Not necessarily…

It seems the terminology “midseason replacement” is simply the networks’ way of testing the market for a new pilot series, instead of rushing the cancellation of current programs airing today to only regret it later.  We live in a marketing based world – why not order a few episodes of a new show to air in April in order to test the waters in a popular timeslot before announcing the plans for the next season in May?

*****

Bent

Bent follows recently divorced attorney, Alex (Amanda Peet, Saving Silverman), as she tries to pick up the ”bent” pieces of her life post-divorce.  With sole-custody of her daughter, Alex buys a small home that is in need of renovations.  She hires Pete (David Walton, Perfect Couples), a contractor who is also trying to pick up the pieces of his “bent” life (recovering gambling addict) as well.

Alex and Pete are nothing alike — Alex is a responsible person with a no-nonsense personality, while Pete flies by the seat of his pants.  We can definitely smell the romance brewing between these two and the sitcom hasn’t even premiered yet.

The new comedy also stars: Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) as Pete’s father; Margo Harshman (Sorority Row) as Alex’s sister; and Joey King (Ramona & Beezus) as Alex’s daughter.

Bent premieres Wednesday, March 21st on NBC.

*****

Best Friends Forever

Created by and starring Lennon Parham (as Lennon White, from Accidentally on Purpose) and Jessica St. Clair (as Jessica Black, from Bridesmaids), Best Friends Forever follows two lifelong friends after one of them (Jessica) is served divorce papers.  After the news that her marriage is over, Jessica decides to leave California and return to New York where she moves in with Lennon in the old apartment the two previously shared.

The two women pick up right where they left off, which isn’t helping Lennon’s boyfriend (Joe Foley, played by comedian Luka Jones) feel at home in the apartment where he lives too.  In addition to Lennon’s potential relationship troubles, Jessica reconnects with an old friend (Rav Stark, played by Stephen Schneider) who might just have a flame still burning for her, making her new single life more complicated that she originally bargained for.

It appears the sitcom is just as much about the women’s friendship as it is their romantic lives’ ups and downs…

 Best Friends Forever, premieres Wednesday, April 4th on NBC.

*****

Scandal

Scandal stars Kerry Washington (from the Fantastic Four movies) as Olivia Pope, a former White House communications director who is now operating her very own private crisis management firm.  She hires an apparently qualified staff; a staff that successfully fixes the firm’s client’s problems, but also brings their own issues to the table: Stephen (Henry Ian Cusick, Lost); Harrison (Columbus Short, The Losers); Hack (Guillermo Diaz, Weeds); Abby (Darby Stanchfield, Jericho); and Quinn (Katie Lowes, Easy Money).

Scandal also stars Tony Goldwyn (Ghost) as Fitzgerald Grant, President of the United States, and Jeff Perry (My So Called Life) as Cyrus Beene, the President’s Chief of Staff.  ** It is rumored that the new drama is loosely inspired by the actual life of President George H. W. Bush’s former press aide…**

Looks scandalous to me...

Will Olivia succeed in starting her new life?  Or will the secrets she has worked so diligently to hide in her past resurface?  Will her staff help her, or will they hold her back?

Scandal premieres Thursday, April 5th on ABC.

*****

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 tells the story of two unlikely roommates surviving in New York City…

Roommate #1: June (played by Dreama Walker, Seven Deadly Sins) hails from the Midwest, yet uproots her life for her ideal job in corporate America.  Only when she arrives in The Big Apple, she discovers her position has been eliminated, so she does what everyone does at least once in their lifetime – she becomes a barista.

Roommate #2: Chloe (played by Krysten Ritter, Breaking Bad) is a partying socialite who has been accused on more than one occasion of being a con artist, and she is constantly hanging out with her best friend (James Van Der Beek as James Van Der Beek).

Will June survive NYC?  Will she heed everyone’s warning to not trust the “B” in Apt. 23? Will James Van Der Beek playing a fictionalized version of himself be enough to keep this new comedy alive?

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 premieres Wednesday, April 11th on ABC.

*****

NYC 22

And of course the midseason replacements would not be complete without a police procedural…

Not to be confused with ABC’s Rookie Blue, NYC 22 follows six NYPD rookies as they adjust to their new life on patrol.  The group consists of: Jennifer “White House” Perry (LeeLee Sobieski, Joan of Arc), a former marine; Ray “Lazarus” Harper (Adam Goldberg, Dazed and Confused), an older rookie than the others with a previous career in police news reporting; Tonya Sanchez (Judy Marte, Raising Victor Vargas), who has a few criminals in her family’s past; Ahmad Kahn (Tom Reed), a former Afghani native; Kenny McClaren (Stark Sands, Generation Kill), who falls in line as a 4th generation cop; and Jayson “Jackpot” Toney (Harold House Moore, Necessary Roughness), a former basketball star who should have seen success in the NBA.

Clearly, the six rookies form a much diversified group with extremely different backgrounds, who now share the same goal — protect the streets of New York City.

The drama also stars Terry Kinney (Oz) as Field Training Officer, Daniel “Yoda” Dean, and Felix Solis (The Good Wife) as Sergeant Terry Howard.  Doesn’t everyone just love the nicknames?

NYC 22 premieres Sunday, April 15th on CBS.

*****

What do you think?  Do you plan to watch any of these new programs?  Which show has the most promise and why?  The least?  I’d love to hear from you!

Why it’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – A Few Comedic Oldies, versus a Few Comedic Newbies

This week Amber West and I get back to business and begin the 2012 Television-in-Review schedule on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday, as she updates us on a few of TV’s comedic veterans and I introduce two comedic freshmen.

I’ve always loved to laugh; even as a child, I’d giggle every time I would recite the classic “Knock, Knock” jokes.  Heck, what am I saying?  We’re all friends here; these innocent rhymes still bring a smile to my face today.

As an adult, I look to laughter as my choice in television and movie viewing as much as possible; after all, laughing keeps us young, right?  The type of comedy doesn’t matter to me – I can take a joke whether it is clean, dirty, politically incorrect, and even those that I never feel the need to repeat ever again.

Because of this joy of laughter, I love to watch comedians and one of my favorite late night talk shows is E!’s Chelsea Lately hosted by Chelsea Handler.  I don’t necessarily watch for the guest interviews, but more for the round table of funny that makes up the first twenty minutes of her program.  This is where I met Whitney Cummings for the first time, and later enjoyed her jokes on Comedy Central’s Roasts of many celebrities.

So when I discovered that both Chelsea and Whitney announced new sitcoms on NBC this year, our house tuned in.

Developed, written, and starring comedian Whitney Cummings, Whitney follows the fictionalized story of her life experiences, challenges in relationships we can all relate to – like cohabitation, friendships, secrets, and boundaries.  Whitney lives with her long-term boyfriend, Alex (Chris D’Elia, Glory Daze), and the non-traditional couple sees no reason to get married, but remains happily ever after nonetheless.

The duo is surrounded by their friends: Lily (Zoe Lister-Jones, Breaking Upwards), who believes in happily ever after, Roxanne (Rhea Seehorn, Franklin & Bash), a relationship cynic, Neal (Maulik Pancholy, 30 Rock) who appears to be in a perfect relationship with Lily, and Mark (Dan O’Brien, multiple television appearances including How I Met Your Mother), the self-proclaimed ultimate bachelor.

Each week, my guy and I both laugh throughout the thirty minute series.  Whitney is perfect viewing for couples to watch together.  One of our favorite episodes aired recently when Whitney walks in on Alex’s “alone” time (trying to keep the blog clean here…).

Needless to say, Alex was and is completely mortified, and Whitney begins knocking on her own apartment door to announce when she arrives home each time after the incident.  The episode continues as Whitney confesses the day’s events to her friends, further embarrassing Alex.

Which brings us to the relatable part: what’s safe to share with outsiders, even those we love the most, when working through moments that take place between lovers and partners?

Another great episode aired just a few weeks prior when Whitney attempts to prove that Alex speaks to her in a condescending tone, a tone that he denies refutably.  When his brother shows up unannounced, and the two siblings bicker back and forth – in that same condescending tone – Whitney decides to plant one of Mark’s surveillance cameras (he’s a police officer) in the apartment.

As if Whitney’s attempt to capture “the tone” isn’t funny enough, the fact that all four of the couple’s friends gather upstairs in Mark’s apartment to spy on the couple while eating popcorn and snacks, only adds to the greatness.

This sitcom might perhaps evoke more giggles in our house than our previous favorite (How I Met Your Mother), courtesy of the relatability and laugh factor.  Therefore, Whitney earns the MacTV rating – this series is a complete guilty pleasure and leaves us wanting more, men and women alike.

Okay, so if my adoration began for Whitney on Chelsea Lately, Chelsea’s new sitcom should definitely be worth a watch – right?

Based on her best seller, Are You there, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, Are You There, Chelsea? does not star Chelsea Handler as Chelsea.  Confused?  Instead, it stars Laura Prepon (That ‘70s Show) as Chelsea, while Chelsea herself plays her sister Sloane.

The series takes place in New Jersey, where Chelsea (Prepon) was recently arrested for being under the influence (more than likely a Belvedere influence).  She moves into an apartment within walking distance of her job (a bar, perfect for a girl who loves to drink vodka) with her best friend (Olivia, played by Ali Wong) and new roommate (DeeDee, played by Lauren Lapkus).

Chelsea and her sister share a typical relationship – they love each other but are nothing alike: Sloane bails Chelsea out of jail in the pilot; Chelsea stands by Sloane’s side as she delivers her first-born; Chelsea sleeps with Sloane’s ex-boyfriend, despite her sister’s plea to not go on a date with him; etc. etc. etc.

Laura as Chelsea, Chelsea as Sloane, and Baby

Which brings us to the sex factor – Chelsea Handler has always been very open about her past relationships, thus the three best sellers, and the sitcom is inspired by a lot of these stories: like when Chelsea and her boss’ sexual encounter fails because neither can succumb to being on bottom (Rick, played by Jake McDorman from Greek); or when Chelsea meets a redhead and she can’t help but wonder if the “carpet matches the drapes”; or when she is embarrassed by the fact that her sister’s ex-boyfriend actually prefers Sloane in bed over her, and she’s determined to rock his world.

Lots and lots of sex.  Oh, and there is a little person too (Todd, played by Mark Povinelli).  Anyone who is familiar with Chelsea Handler knows she loves her “nuggets” – and I personally can’t wait for Chuy Bravo (from Chelsea Lately)  to make an appearance on the show.  Everyone loves Chuy.

Laura as Chelsea, praying to "Vodka" - Belvedere no doubt...

Despite my addiction to all things Chelsea (a special shout-out to my guy for taking me to see her stand up this summer), it’s still too early to award Are You There, Chelsea? with anything other than an SSTV rating.  The water is warming up, but it’s just not there yet.

For the fans of the Chelsea Lately Round Table, the guest stars on both Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea? are a plenty, including Loni Love, Jo Koy, Natasha Leggero, and Lisa Lampanelli.  I personally can’t wait for my favorites (Josh Wolf and Sarah Colonna); I just know they’ll have to see a guest spot soon!

What do you think? Do you watch Whitney or Are You There, Chelsea?  What do you like to see in your comedy – clean jokes, dirty jokes, politically incorrect jokes, etc?  Which of the sitcoms currently on TV do you think are GTV worthy?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her thoughts regarding the hit comedies Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory, two popular programs requested by our fantastic WatchWed viewers!

Come back next week when Amber and I review a couple of YA (Young Adult) inspired television series: Glee and The Lying Game.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Searching Syndication for the Seavers

A few weeks ago, someone may have whined a bit about the lack of family programming on television today.  This same someone took us back, as she remembered a few of the family sitcoms and dramas of the ‘80s and ‘90s that most of us relished as children. 

Reminiscing about past television greatness prompted Amber West and I to search syndication for a few of our favorite families and feature Growing Pains and The Cosby Show in this week’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.   But did we find what we were looking for?

We didn’t find Growing Pains.  How is that possible? 

The Seaver family had it all; while the characters weren’t perfect, they worked through their issues and maintained a supportive family dynamic each and every episode.  They laughed; they learned; they cried; they struggled; they loved….is that not good enough for TV today?  Or is it that families aren’t accustomed to watching these types of comedies anymore?

One of Mike's creative cheating strategies

The series centered around the Seaver children and their experiences growing older.  We watched Mike Seaver (Kirk Cameron) goof around, not apply himself, and get into constant trouble both at school and at home; we watched Carol Seaver (Tracey Gold) excel in academics, while constantly battling her inner demons and fight for her parent’s attention; and we watched Ben Seaver (Jeremy Miller) as he followed in Mike’s footsteps a bit showing a typical adolescent rambunctious side, but also as he took after Carol with his intelligence. 

Regardless of which child the Growing Pains episode featured, the Seaver parents had their hands full.   Trying to keep a firm grasp on the home front, Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) moved his psychiatry practice into the house when Maggie Seaver (Joanna Kerns) went back to work.   It didn’t necessarily fix the problem though – Mike and his friends were still always into something; Carol still felt neglected and abnormal for one reason or another; and Ben just really wanted to be left alone, exiting the room screaming on more than one occasion. 

One of the most treasured features of Growing Pains was the valuable lessons taught via hardships, like when Mike realized the importance of family and took in a homeless boy (Luke played by Leonardo DiCaprio), or when Carol’s boyfriend (Matthew Perry) died after a drunk driving accident, or even when Ben learned that idols don’t always reflect who we think they are when he witnessed his favorite rock-n-roll star (Brad Pitt) act inappropriately.   

As the series progressed, so did the Seavers – the kids went away to college, although not too far from home; Jason and Maggie had a fourth child, Chrissy Seaver (Ashley Johnson), and relocated to Washington DC; and Mike found the love of his life and proposed marriage to Kate (Chelsea Noble).

These lessons and the character progressions are just two of the main reasons why Growing Pains earns the GMacTV rating – it’s delicious and addicting like a Gourmet Mac-N-Cheese; a combined greatness of a fine wine served with a warm and tasty comfort food.

It’s not just us here at Watch Wednesday that thinks this – Growing Pains’ success spawned a spinoff sitcom (Just the Ten of Us) and two made-for-TV movies in 2000 and 2004.  So why can’t we find it on TV today?

Did you watch Growing Pains?  Who was your favorite character and/or storyline and why? Have you found the Seaver family on syndication lately?  If so, please share the channel and time…  Any other former TV families you’d like to share with your kids today?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and find out what she has to say about another classic family program of the ’80s, The Cosby Show

Come back next week when Amber and I discuss a few of our favorite TNT syndications…the shows we like to run all day long while we fold laundry or bake treats for our sweets. 

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future. 

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday: Remembering the Family Programs of Years Past

Television in the 1980s offered a bit more substance than today’s reality fixation.  Honest- to-goodness family programming dominated network TV’s primetime hours instead of the incessant need to watch individuals hurt themselves while rushing through an obstacle course or young talent’s hopes shatter in recorded auditions.

Growing up, Sunday nights at grandma’s house included a hot family meal with all of our aunts, uncles, and cousins, followed by bonding time in front of the TV with shows like Life Goes On and Our House.  Remember those?

Life Goes On

Our House

After homework and dinner Monday through Friday, we curled up on the sofa with mom and dad learning valuable, although funny, lessons with hit sitcoms including:

The Cosby Show

Who’s the Boss?

Family Ties

Growing Pains

The Wonder Years

These series all share wonderful messages.  Audiences watch as fictional families learn to adjust to difficult situations like understanding Corky’s disability in Life Goes On, or recovering from the death of a parent in Our House.  We discover how serious dyslexia is when Theo Huxtable is diagnosed in The Cosby Show, and just how harsh words can be as Carol Seaver suffers constantly from jokes about her weight and her intelligence throughout Growing Pains’ run.

Not all of the storylines in these popular sitcoms focus on family units prevailing through hard times.  Sometimes the stories lighten the mood and take us back to a happy place.  For example, viewers reminisce about first loves and conquering true love as Kevin Arnold crushes on Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years, or as Tony Micelli and Angela Bower prove that money really doesn’t matter when searching for the one true connection in Who’s the Boss?.  We also learn to value the importance of friendships such as Mike Seaver and his buddies Boner and Eddie in Growing Pains, as well as Kevin and Paul in The Wonder Years.

But perhaps one of the best messages portrayed by all of these family sitcoms is the importance of education.  Each and every one of these series follows a character as they attend college.  Alex P. Keaton obsesses over one day leading the Republican party in Family Ties and attends college where he studies economics.  Even Kevin Arnold’s hippie sister, Karen, enrolls in college on her way to a M.R.S. degree (she gets married after her freshman year), and Mike Seaver overcomes his high school classroom struggles and takes a few college courses before quitting to pursue an acting career.

Sadly, families today with young children don’t have numerous options on the television similar to these ’80s sitcoms, leaving many with the decision to simply not watch TV.  While there’s nothing wrong with reality programs, what lessons do they teach our children?  That they can wear protective clothing and run through an obstacle course for money?  Or, that they can lay their hopes and dreams on the line to be the next big talent only to run the risk of being publicly humiliated, or that laughing at others’ failures is okay?

Reality TV is fun.  Most times, reality television is even clean enough for the family to watch together; but wouldn’t the return of family programming similar to these ’80s sitcoms make us smile?  We have a few popular sitcoms about families airing today (Modern Family and Parenthood come to mind), but aren’t these shows directed more toward adult humor versus good old-fashioned family values?

Just something to think about…

So many wonderful family programs aired in the 1980s, what did you watch?  What do you think of today’s family programming compared to the ‘80s?  What do you or would you watch with your family today?  I’d love to hear from you!

Why It’s Worth A Watch Wednesday – Battle of the Network Funnies

This week, Amber West and I review a few of the more established comedies on NBC and CBS in a Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday: Battle of the Network Funnies.

Who will win:  Monday nights on CBS with How I Met Your Mother and Two and Half Men or Thursday nights on NBC with Parks and Recreation and Community?

We begin with the popular sitcom, How I Met Your Mother.  Commonly abbreviated to HIMYM, the series follows the main character Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) as he narrates to his children in the year 2030 the story of how he met their mother.  Well, Josh doesn’t narrate, Bob Saget does. 

Although we’re seven seasons in, we still haven’t met the mother of Ted’s children; but we have grown to love his best friends:  Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), Marshall Erikson (Jason Segel), and Lily Aldrin Erickson (Alyson Hannigan). 

HIMYM has a true ensemble cast as each character plays just as important a role as Ted.  But why do we really love this show? 

There are the character quirks including: Barney’s womanizing ways with his “hot/crazy” scale, or his “Bro Code” justifications, or even his insisting everyone “suit up” before they go out on the town; Robin’s extensive misuse of the word ‘literally’; and Ted’s constant romantic gestures as he looks for love, including stealing a blue French horn for Robin during their courtship.

There are the enduring moments like when Ted finds out his parents are divorced; or when Marshall struggles with the decision to take a position as a corporate lawyer instead of working for an environmental cause; or when Barney sets out on a mission to learn the true identity of his father (once he discovers Bob Barker is indeed not his biological dad).

There is the comedy: Robin’s teenage Canadian pop-band flashbacks; Marshall and Barney’s on-going Slap game (Marshall earned five free slaps, and he saves them for when Barney least expects it); and the group’s hilarious interventions for one another.

But, most importantly, we love the realistic friendships between all of the characters.  We’re watching as these friends experience life together; as they celebrate Lily and Marshall’s pregnancy; as they mourn the loss of Marshall’s father; and as they bounce back from multiple broken romantic relationships.

It’s reasons like these that I award How I Met Your Mother with a MacTV rating.  As far as sitcoms go, it ranks among the best available on TV today.  Can the show survive many more seasons?  Probably not.  But will we tune in until Ted meets the mother of his children.  Absolutely. 

Oh, and before we move on, HIMYM hosts guest stars galore: Regis Philbin, Katie Holmes, Wayne Brady, Enrique Iglesias, Sarah Chalke, Britney Spears, Rachel Bilson, Jennifer Morrison, Kyle MacLachlan, John Lithgow, Kal Penn, and Martin Short just to name a few.

How I Met Your Mother is “Legen…wait for it…dary.”

A half hour later on CBS, another sitcom veteran airs on millions of television sets across the globe with Two and a Half Men.  Definitely not as enduring as HIMYM, Two and a Half Men promises comedy a bit more raunchy than anything else on TV (Archer wins most raunchy).

For the first eight seasons, Men starred Charlie Sheen as Charlie Harper, the wealthy and drunken songwriter who opens his Malibu beach house to his recently divorced brother (Alan Harper played by Jon Cryer) and nephew (Jake Harper played by Angus T. Jones). 

The series follows Charlie’s sexual escapades, Alan’s incessant need to mooch off of his brother, and Jake’s hilarious adventures through childhood and the teenage years.   But, despite the title, Two and a Half Men wouldn’t be the same without the women: Alan’s ex-wife Judith (Marin Hinkle); Charlie’s foul-mouthed housekeeper Berta (Conchata Ferrell); the Charlie obsessed next door neighbor Rose (Melanie Lynskey); and the Harper matriarch, Evelyn (Holland Taylor). 

Speaking of women, the Harper brothers have dated a few familiar females over the years including Courtney Thorne-Smith, Judy Greer, and Jenny McCarthy.  Ironically, the most fruitful male/female relationship on the show is between Charlie and his therapist (played by Jane Lynch). 

We didn’t watch Men religiously until we caught the show in syndication.  For many Saturdays in a row, we sat and caught up with the Harpers, laughter guaranteed in each episode.  But, sadly, a few real life mishaps forced the show’s creator to kill off the character of Charlie and replace him with a fresh face: Ashton Kutcher. 

Season nine begins at Charlie’s funeral – and BRAVO Chuck Lorre and other Men writers.  The funeral scene was absolutely brilliant.  Many past guest stars return and ex-girlfriends applaud Charlie’s death (in a respectful, yet Charlie Harper deserved way).  The best of the half hour was undoubtedly the return of Rose and her eulogy, or was it a confession? 

After the funeral, Alan reluctantly prepares to move out of the house he can no longer afford without his brother’s money.  Suddenly, there is a wet, sad man standing on his patio.  Alan opens the door, literally and figuratively, when he meets Walden Schmidt (Kutcher) after an attempted suicide in the ocean. 

It just so happens that Walden is rich like Charlie, and agrees to buy the beach house.  Before we know it, he hires Berta to stay on as his housekeeper and he also invites Alan to move in for as long as necessary. 

Same story, new characters.

Some like the change, some don’t.  But, the new direction was enough to bring Men back to our DVR and we haven’t removed the future recording setting just yet.  For that, I award Two and a Half Men the JFTV rating.  The series isn’t great for us, but we keep digging our hand right back down into that greasy bag of chips.  Heck, before we know it, we’ll probably suffer chest pains much like Charlie’s character on multiple occasions. 

So, what do you think?  Do you watch HIMYM or Two and a Half Men?  Which network airs the best comedies: CBS or NBC? How much longer can the series last before Ted meets his future wife?  Do you like the addition of Ashton Kutcher on Men?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of NBC’s Thursday night laughs, Parks and Recreation and Community

Come back next week when Amber and I review AMC’s Mad Men and The Walking Dead.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future. 

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

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