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 (January/February)
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 / Review
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two / Review
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
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
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Thursday, February 23
The Big Bang Theory - "The Comic-Con Conundrum" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
With Koothrappali cut off from his father’s fortune, he appoints Sheldon to help him get out of debt. Also, Penny considers joining Leonard at Comic-Con.
The Great Indoors - "Friends Like These" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jack desperately begs his co-workers to pretend to be his closest friends at a dinner party after his lack of an inner circle begins to concern his girlfriend, Rachel (Maggie Lawson). However, he soon regrets asking for their help after they all behave awkwardly in her presence.
Mom - "Night Swimmin' and an English Muffin" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Bonnie discovers Adam is still close with his ex-wife, Danielle (Wendie Malick), Christy worries the emotional fallout could jeopardize Bonnie’s sobriety.
Life in Pieces - "Awkward Bra Automated Ordained" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Dinner gets awkward for Jen and Matt when they find themselves alone without Greg and Colleen. Also, Lark accidentally locks out Greg and Jen from the house, prompting Greg to install a complicated home automation system; Heather and Tim try to sneak wine into an ice skating show to get out of paying at the venue; and John and Joan agree to an impromptu wedding after Colleen mentions that she’s an ordained minister.
Superstore - "Wellness Fair" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Amy (America Ferrera) sees Mateo (Nico Santos) out on a secret date with Jeff (recurring guest star Michael Bunin), she ignores Garrett's (Colton Dunn) advice to stay out of it, and ends up throwing multiple relationships - both real and imagined - into chaos. Meanwhile, Glenn (Mark McKinney) resents Jonah (Ben Feldman) for outshining him during Cloud 9's Wellness Fair, and Dina (Lauren Ash) tries to prove that Amy faked an illness.
Powerless - "Emily Dates a Henchman" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
After being urged by her team, Emily (Vanessa Hudgens) sets her sights on the dating world but unknowingly falls for one of the Riddler's henchmen (guest star Robert Buckley). Meanwhile, Teddy (Danny Pudi) and Ron (Ron Funches) find a Batman artifact and discover Van's (Alan Tudyk) superhero fantasy. Christina Kirk also stars.
Baskets - "Marthager" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Martha books Chip a gig at a car crash.
Thursday, February 23
- John Travolta (Welcome Back, Kotter) - Catch John on a repeat of the 2015 Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars special at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) - Aubrey visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Bradley Whitford (Trophy Wife) - Bradley is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about Get Out in the 9am hour. He appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
- Allison Williams (Girls) - Allison appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Paul Scheer (The League/Fresh Off the Boat) - Paul visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on the AOL Build Show at 4:30pm.
- Rob Huebel (Transparent/Burning Love) - Rob drops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on the AOL Build Show at 4:30pm.
- Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Nick appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Jermaine Fowler (Superior Donuts) - Jermaine is a guest on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- David Spade (Rules of Enagement/8 Simple Rules/Just Shoot Me!) - David appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Norm Macdonald (The Norm Show/A Minute with Stan Hooper) - Norm is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Rob Schneider (Real Rob/Rob/Men Behaving Badly) - Rob appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- David Duchovny (Californication) - David stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds) - Mary-Louise is a guest on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Mae Whitman (Arrested Development) - Mae appears on Harry, so check your local listings.
- NeNe Leakes (The New Normal) - NeNe guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings.
- Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly) - Billy joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.