Thursday, May 01, 2014
2014 Upfronts: Hulu and Crackle; Episodic Review: Surviving Jack - "She Drives Me Crazy" Airing Tonight on Fox
Well, it's actually called a "NewFront" for Hulu and Crackle, but both had their annual presentations yesterday. For Hulu, among the new series is The Hotwives of Orlando, a Hulu Original Series, that will premiere on Tuesday, July 15. From Paramount Digital Entertainment, Hotwives is produced by Emmy© award-winning producer Jonathan Stern and Emmy© nominated producer Paul Scheer. Paramount Digital Entertainment is the studio behind the outrageous Emmy© nominated comedy Burning Love. All episodes will be available on Hulu Plus on July 15; the first two episodes will be available on Hulu.com, with a new episode releasing each week after that. The series is a laugh-out-loud parody of the phenomenon that is reality housewives shows. With an all-star cast that includes the Hotwives Casey Wilson as The Trophy Wife (Happy Endings), Angela Kinsey as The Religious Zealot (The Office), Kristen Schaal as The Drug Addled Former Child Star (Flight of the Conchords), Tymberlee Hill as The Entrepreneur (Drunk History), Danielle Schneider as The Bankrupt Overspender (Upright Citizens Brigade) and Andrea Savage as The Cougar (Step Brothers). With special guest stars including Kate Walsh, Weird Al Yankovic, Joey McIntyre, Stephen Tobolowsky, Paul Scheer and Paul Scheer (The League) who plays the Enthusiastic TV producer Matty Green.
Crackle, the multi-platform digital entertainment network, released an exciting line-up of new original programming and returning series yesterday at the Digital Content NewFronts in New York City. Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad), Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage), and sportscaster Dan Patrick were all on hand alongside Sony Pictures Television executives for Crackle's second year at the annual NewFronts presentations. The new line-up features more than 100 episodes of original programming including exciting new productions and returning hits across a variety of genres such as sports, comedy, thrillers, and music involving some of Hollywood's most sought-after talent including Jerry Seinfeld, Robert Downey Jr. Bryan Cranston, Jeremy Renner and Dan Patrick. New series includes a comedy titled Tightrope. Emmy(R)-Award winner Bryan Cranston returns to his comedic roots to executive produce this series that will replace a character from a classic detective series with a modern-day actor. The show juxtaposes the modern character, with irreverent comic sensibilities and also with older characters from another era to reshape the stories into contemporary comedy. A new drama Sequestered was also announced for a 12 episode run scheduled to premiere on Crackle in August. A sophisticated, intense thriller, starring Jesse Bradford, Summer Glau (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Patrick Warburton (Rules of Engagemen), and Bruce Davison about a jury sequestered in a hotel while deliberating a court case with massive implications. Series is produced by Lifeboat Productions and created by Aaron Tracy.
On the next...Surviving Jack (Fox, Thursday 9:30pm):
Fox's new comedy starring Christopher Meloni airs Thursdays at 9:30pm and we have just watched the next episode that airs tonight (May 1). In the episode airing tonight, "She Drives Me Crazy," Jack (Christopher Meloni) gets Rachel (Claudia Lee) a spot on the wrestling team, much to the chagrin of the wrestling coach (guest star Neil Flynn, The Middle, Scrubs). Meanwhile, Joanne (Rachael Harris) realizes that Frankie (Connor Buckley) is now too embarrassed to be seen with her during their annual mother-son trip.
When I watch Surviving Jack, the best word I can come up with is "competent." This is a show that knows what it's doing and does it pretty well. It's a nostalgia-based family sitcom (although the '90s references are increasingly becoming less prevalent) that wants to get some decent laughs out of you while getting you invested in some fairly well drawn, if slightly stereotypical, characters. It wants to make you think of your own childhood or adolescence with a smile, and it wants you to go "aww" at its sweet message of family togetherness it brings through at the end. And it does all of this quite well! In fact, unlike many family sitcoms, the "aww" moments feel genuinely earned here, because the characters feel like more than just archetypes. It's good, solid family sitcom stuff.
The problem is that we've had many "good, solid family sitcoms" over the years, and there's not much that makes Surviving Jack stand out in the crowd. The show is funny enough, but there are far funnier shows on television. The characters are pretty well-drawn, but they're not unique in the way that, say, the Heck kids (from The Middle) are unique. The shows' genuine sweetness is perhaps its best selling point, but it's not groundbreaking enough to really make Surviving Jack worth going out of your way for. This is probably why the show has sort of failed to gather traction – as good as everything here is, it's just good, and there isn't much of an effort to be anything more than "just good." There are elements here that could eventually make a genuinely great family sitcom, but the show may be taking too long to properly utilize them. Surviving Jack is not a bad way to spend a half hour, but with so many great comedies on TV, "not a bad way to spend a half hour" just isn't enough. B-
New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March)
02/07 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - Sabrina Down Under
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 1 - School's Cool - Boy Crazy
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 2 - About a Family - Hangin' Out
02/07 - 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek)
02/07 - Vice Principals - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
02/14 - Beavis and Butt-Head - The Complete Collection
02/14 - Grace and Frankie - Season Two
02/28 - Fuller House - The Complete First Season
03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
03/14 - Unbrekable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Monday, March 27
The Big Bang Theory - "The Brain Bowl Incubation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After a successful experiment combining their genes, Sheldon will stop at nothing to convince Amy they should procreate. Also, Koothrappali is embarrassed to tell the gang what the new woman he’s dating does for a living.
Kevin Can Wait - "Kevin's Bringing Supper Back" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Kevin’s resolve to spend more quality time with his family is put to the ultimate test when his buddies surprise him with concert tickets to his favorite musician, fellow Long Islander Billy Joel. Multiple Grammy Award-winning pianist, singer and songwriter Billy Joel appears as himself.
Superior Donuts - "Get It, Arthur" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Randy’s mom comes to town, Franco encourages Arthur to go out on his first date in years. Brenda Vaccaro guest stars as Helen, Randy’s mom.
The Great Indoors - "Aaron Wolf" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jack watches the millennials’ journalistic integrity slip away when they fall under the spell of his nemesis, Aaron Wolf (Chris D’Elia), a former magazine staffer turned famous outdoor reality TV host who returns to guest edit the magazine.
Monday, March 27
- Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Chris on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Richard Dreyfuss (Your Family or Mine) - Richard appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie/Malibu Country) and Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) - Lily and Jane are guests on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. They also chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
- Rachel Dratch (Imaginary Mary) - Rachel is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Pete Holmes (Crashing) - Pete stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Accidentally on Purpose/Courting Alex/Dharma & Greg) - Jenna appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
- Ron Funches (Powerless/Undateable) - Ron is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Kaitlin Olson (The Mick/It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) - Kaitlin drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi appears on a repeat of Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Lisa is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Mark guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Tahj Mowry, Derek Theler and Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Baby Daddy) - Tahj, Derek and Jean-Luc are guests on Harry, so check your local listings.
- Tika Sumpter (The Game) - Tika appears on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
- Vanessa Bell Calloway (Rhythm & Blues) - Vanessa is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie) - June talks about Grace and Frankie on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) and Ben Falcone (Joey) - Melissa and Ben talk TV Land's Nobodies on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
- Brooklyn Decker (Grace and Frankie/Friends with Better Lives) - Brookyln stops by People Now at 8:30am.
- Marcia Gay Harden (Trophy Wife) - Marcia opens up about her favorite part of being in the 50 Shades movies on People Now at 8:30am. \
- Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Girlfriends) - Tracee dishes about her Golden Globe win on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.