Monday, September 14, 2009

TBS and ABC Family Renew Original Sitcoms; Remembering Larry Gelbart

The beer will continue flowing at Crowley's Tavern as TBS orders up a fourth season of its critically acclaimed original sitcom from Sony Pictures Television, My Boys. The series stars Jordana Spiro as PJ Franklin, a 20-something sports columnist in Chicago. TBS has lined up nine episodes for the new season, which is slated to launch in 2010.
Co-starring in My Boys as PJ's mostly male group of close friends are Kyle Howard as boyfriend Bobby, Reid Scott as best friend Brendon, Michael Bunin as Kenny and Jamie Kaler as Mike. Kellee Stewart co-stars as Stephanie, a former schoolmate and the only female influence in PJ's life.
The single camera sitcom premiered to critical praise on TBS in November 2006. When the series returned in summer 2007, it scored 22% growth among adults 18-34. Earlier this year, the show's third season garnered 11% growth among adults 18-34. The comedy is particularly strong among DVR users, delivering 72% growth among adults 18-34 and 52% growth among viewers when comparing Live to Live + 7 viewing for the third season.

Meanwhile, ABC Family has ordered another season of ten episodes of original comedy 10 Things I Hate About You. The ensemble single camera sitcom based on the 1999 feature of the same name has performed well for ABC Family since its July 7 debut. The comedy is created and executive produced by Carter Covington and stars Lindsey Shaw, Meaghan Martin, Larry Miller and Ethan Peck. The series just finished its first season episode order (10 episodes) last Tuesday.
However, the news was not as good for another original ABC Family series that premiered this summer, Ruby and the Rockits. ABC Family will not renew the multicamera sitcom that revolved around a pair of aging pop stars and their families, which starred Patrick Cassidy, David Cassidy and Alexa Vega and was executive produced by Shaun Cassidy. The series still has two episodes left to air in its only season episode order, with the series finale airing next Tuesday at 8:30PM.

Larry Gelbart, the award-winning writer whose sly, sardonic wit helped create such hits as Broadway's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the film Tootsie, and of course television's M*A*S*H, died Friday. Gelbart died at his Beverly Hills home after a long battle with cancer. He is likely best remembered for the long-running TV show about Army doctors during the Korean War. Gelbart won an Emmy for M*A*S*H and was nominated for writing but quit during the show's fourth season, saying he was "totally worn out."
Gelbart's Broadway show, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, written with Burt Shevelove, was a runaway hit. It was based loosely on the Roman plays of Plautus with songs by Stephen Sondheim.
His films Oh, God! with George Burns as a philosophical deity, and Tootsie, with Dustin Hoffman as a cross-dressing actor, both brought him Academy Award nominations, and the HBO movie Barbarians at the Gate, about Wall Street chicanery, brought another Emmy.
Gelbart's other television work was creating the short-lived CBS sitcom Roll Out! in 1973. It starred Stu Gilliam and Hilly Hicks, and featuring Ed Begley, Jr. and Garrett Morris, the series was set in France during World War II and was loosely based on the 1952 film Red Ball Express. Instead of Army medics, Roll Out! highlighted the pratfalls of the supply drivers of the 5050th Quartermaster Trucking Company of the U.S. Third Army's Red Ball Express, whose staff was mainly African American.
Gelbart was also known for writing the first television pilot for Three's Company in 1976, which today is known as "The Larry Gelbart Pilot." The pilot never aired originally, but has been on DVD and aired on cable on TV Land. In 1980, Larry had another show that didn't last too long. The series was for NBC titled United States and starred Beau Bridges. It was a show about Richard and Libby Chapin and their two children Dylan and Nicky. The show differed from other sitcoms in that there might not be closure to problems after a frank discussion and the subjects discussed were not common to other sitcoms.
In 1983, Larry came back to M*A*S*H in the spin-off AfterMASH. It only lasted two seasons and had the Korean War ended with Colonel Potter, Sergeant Klinger, and Father Mulcahy finding themselves together once again, this time at a veteran's hospital.
In recent years Larry has been interviewed for TV Land Confidential, Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, Inside TV Land: The Dick Van Dyke Show, M*A*S*H: 30th Anniversary Reunion, and most recently Biography: Three's Company. He was also at the TV Land Awards earlier this year.
Larry will certainly be missed and his great writing will live on forever in M*A*S*H and his other work. He was 81.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (December/January)

American Dad! - Volume 11 Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized) The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two Hooperman - Season One

12/06 - Family Guy - Season Fourteen
12/13 - American Dad! - Volume 11
12/13 - Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season
01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
01/24 - Hooperman - Season One
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, January 20

Last Man Standing - "A House Divided" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Mike and Vanessa ask newlyweds Mandy and Kyle to tone down their constant displays of affection, Mandy agrees but only if her parents become more discreet in the way they express their feelings to each other. Meanwhile, Kristen gets Eve a gig playing at the Grill, but Ed wants to fire her after a lackluster performance.

Dr. Ken - "A Day in the Life" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Amy (guest star Yvette Nicole Brown), the producer of a documentary health series, follows Ken around to record a typical day at an HMO, giving Ken his big moment in the limelight.  But much to Ken’s chagrin, a series of the less than thrilling day-to-day parts of the job at Welltopia leads Ken to doubt his own career choice.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 16)

Friday, January 20

  • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Catch Anthony on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • JoAnna Garcia Swisher (Reba/Better with You) - JoAnna visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show/My Boys/Welcome to New York) - Jim stops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Cristela Alonzo (Cristela) - Cristela drops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun/Twenty Good Years) - John is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Ken is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Nicole Byer (Loosely, Exactly Nicole) - Nicole appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Joe Jonas (Jonas L.A.) - Joe guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Bernadette Peters (Mozart in the Jungle/All's Fair) - Bernadette is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Queen Latifah (Living Single) - Queen Latifah is a guest on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Andrew Dice Clay (Bless This House/Hitz) - Andrew stops by Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory/Roseanne - Johnny discusses his role in the new film, Rings, and dishes on this season of The Big Bang Theory on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.