Sunday, February 05, 2017

TV: Funny and unfunny

Judd Hirsh.

Did the name or his return to TV excite many?

If so, we weren't among them.


It's not that he was awful as Alex on the seventies sitcom TAXI.  He played the overly preachy character about as well as anyone could.

He followed that up with, among other things, an Academy Award rated supporting performance in the film ORDINARY PEOPLE.  There, he wasn't just preachy, he was also oh-so sensitive, at times even more so than the suicidal character played by Timothy Hutton.

He combined both qualities in the 90s with his return to sitcom form in DEAR JOHN.

Audiences quickly learned to avoid the series.

So Hirsch went on to nonsense like CBS' long running NUMB3RS.

Sitcoms, meanwhile, got less and less funny and more and more preachy.  It was as though, for example, the Capra corn moralizing of MODERN FAMILY had been fathered by Judd.

So if he was going to return to the genre, now was probably the best time.

All of the above, doesn't prepare you for SUPERIOR DONUTS or Hirsch.

The CBS sitcom should have been dead on arrival.

Arthur (Hirsch) owns a Chicago donut shop that's seen better days and will probably close soon.  Franco (Jermaine Fowler) has ideas of how to save the shop.

Hirsch and Fowler have true comedic chemistry and Hirsch has actually found a new character.  He's not Alex, he's not constantly proselytizing. He's scared and scarred and Hirsch doesn't hide that.  He lets it ooze out and make you want to see Arthur succeed.

Fowler is a TV natural.  He steps into his first scene with all the sureness of a Lucille Ball who, after all, came to TV after decades in the movies. He's helped by Katey Sagal who has some lines that are real clunkers but delivers them in a breezy, warm manner that not only enhances her own character (police officer Randy) but also establishes a relationship with Franco.

SUPERIOR DONUTS is a show CBS should be backing.

While CBS has something to be proud of, NBC should hang its head in shame over POWERLESS.

This sitcom is a stain on Thursday nights.

RON: I wished we worked for Batman.  I feel like he would really get us.

EMILY: Well maybe someday we will.

VOICE OVER: Heh.  That's funny.

No, it's really not.

That's not the fault of Ron Funches (Ron) or Vanessa Hudgens (Emily) or any of the cast.

With the exception of Alan Tudyk, the cast does a great job.

But the writing's not there.

Will it ever be?

Could it be?

Comedies don't tend to do well in America when they revolve around superheroes.

More recently, the 2006 film MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND struggled to find an audience.

THE CW makes every night about superheroes.  Monday it's SUPERGIRL (transplanted from CBS).  Tuesday's FLASH.  Wednesday is ARROW.  Thursday it's LEGENDS OF TOMORROW.  All of that plus ABC's MARVEL AGENTS OF SHIELD.

That's before you even consider the non-stop superhero films.

Was a comedy really needed?

POWERLESS fails to make a convincing argument.

It features all the laughs of an episode of FELICITY -- which is to say very few -- while managing to feel twice as long.

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