Wednesday, May 28, 2014
NBC Summer Pilot Review: Undateable - Premieres Thursday, May 29; CBS Pulls Friends with Better Lives, Bad Teacher Burn-Off
Undateable - Thursdays at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 9:00PM ET/PT
Danny Burton (Chris D'Elia, Whitney) decides to help out his new roommate, Justin Kearney (comedian Brent Morin), the owner of an unsuccessful bar and a chronic over-thinker, and Justin's group of oddball friends - Shelly (comedian Ron Funches), Burski (comedian Rick Glassman) and Brett (David Fynn, Game of Thrones) in their attempts to cease being "undateable" and finally make something out of their love lives.
Brent Morin as Justin
Bianca Kajlich as Leslie
David Flynn as Brett
Rick Glassman as Burski
Ron Funches as Shelly
Chris D'Elia (Danny) is a stand-up comedian known for his Comedy Central stand-up special White Male Black Comic. He was also the lead actor on Whitney and has appeared in shows such as American Dreams, Monk, and Workaholics.
Brent Morin (Justin) is an improve and stand-up comic whose work has appeared on The Comedy Store, The Imrpov, and Laugh Factory.
Bianca Kajilch (Leslie) is best known for her role as Jennifer on the long-running CBS series Rules of Engagement. She has also appeared in shows such as Dawson's Creek, Vanished, and Psych.
David Flynn (Brett) has appeared on a variety of British television shows, including Sherlock, Black Mirror, and Big Band World. He has also guest starred on Game of Thrones.
Rick Glassman (Burski) has appeared in the comedy shorts Macc's Law and A Night with Rachel Starr and Rachel Roxxx.
Ron Funches (Shelly) has appeared in guest roles on many shows, including Bob's Burgers, Kroll Show, Enlisted, New Girl, and Portlandia.
"Pilot" (Thursday, May 29 at 9:00PM ET/PT)
When confident slacker Danny Burton takes Justin on as a roommate, Danny unwittingly inherits Justin's group of romantically challenged friends. Seeing himself as the ultimate player, Danny decides to teach them everything he knows about "the game of love."
For a long time, summer television was the place where shows that weren't good enough to air during the regular season go to have their episodes burned off and their contracts fulfilled before they're banished to the TV archives and completely forgotten about. That isn't necessarily the case anymore – there are plenty of reality shows and drama series that successfully air in the summer and are considerable hits for their networks, from So You Think You Can Dance on Fox to Under the Dome on CBS to America's Got Talent on NBC. Cable networks also generally follow a year-round schedule - acclaimed series like Mad Men and Breaking Bad aired many of their episodes in the summer, and successful comedies such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Louie began their runs in the summer. And yet, summer still remains a dead zone when it comes to broadcast sitcom. If a network TV sitcom is premiering in the summer, it means that at some point between last years' Upfronts and now, the network looked at it, said "wait, why did we pick this up again?," and sent it off to summer, where it could die with minimal promotion and little harm. Most of these burn-off sitcoms are shows that seem to have potential but have some glaring flaws that hinder them from having any real shot as success. Sometimes, you get an intriguing oddball (such as last year's Save Me) and sometimes you get a surprise success (such as Seinfeld, which started as a summer burn-off but wound up taking off and becoming a huge hit). But for the most part, these shows muster up nothing but a "meh."
Undateable is a "meh" at best, and at worst, it's a completely unappealing failure that follows generic sitcom molds to so much of a tee that it feels like an unintentional throwback to shows of twenty years ago. In fact, Undateable truly does have the feel of a B-level sitcom NBC might throw after Friends or Seinfeld in the '90s. It's chock full of tired stereotypes and outdated gender roles, as the entire premise of the show essentially boils down to "hey, come watch these stupid losers try to get laid!." It's an ancient chestnut of a premise that somehow manages to marginalize both men and women – but especially women, who rarely get to be more than objects for the guys to gawk at. Perhaps some of this could be excused if the show was funny, but the "jokes" hardly feel like jokes – more like (as Parks and Recreations' Perd Hapley would put it) lines that have the cadence of jokes but fail to involve any sense of humor at all, feeling that sounding like a joke should be enough.
To be fair, there are a few redeeming aspects to this show. The best scenes, by far, involve Leslie's sister Danny attempting to get him to change his ways and point out that he needs to grow up at some point. They offer a self-awareness the show otherwise lacks, a realization that Danny is a pretty terrible person even if he happens to get laid a lot. But by having him "teach" the other guys how to be "dateable," the show sends mixed messages as to whether we should be supporting or condemning his behavior, thus making the "redemption" scenes with his sister kind of irrelevant. Additionally, it's hopeful to see the shows' portrayal of gay men is far less stereotypical than its portrayal of straight men – Brett is by far the person on the show who most resembles a real human being, and his sexuality doesn't define him like it does too many gay characters on television. But those minor accomplishments aren't enough to shake the feeling that Undateable is a show made almost like it realizes it's going to be a summer burn-off, occasionally hitting the right notes but mostly just content to stay flat.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):
Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.
CBS has pulled canceled comedies Friends with Better Lives and Bad Teacher from its schedule. Both shows were not picked up for second seasons, but they still have episodes left to be aired. CBS aired an episode each of both shows during the first week of the summer but they now decided they will not air the remaining episodes...at least not on their current slots of Mondays at 8:30pm and Thursdays at 9:30pm. They could pop-up on CBS Comedytime block on Saturdays, but as of now there is no sign of that. Repeats of Mom will now move to Mondays at 8:30pm (Two and a Half Men will now also air Mondays at 9:30pm), while The Millers will air Thursdays at 9:30pm following Two and a Half Men on Thursdays. Mom will also now air Thursdays at 8:30pm in the summer.
Single-camera comedy Bad Teacher was based on the hit feature film and starred Ari Graynor as an always inappropriate, fearless and unapologetic former trophy wife who masquerades as a teacher in order to find a new man after her wealthy husband leaves her penniless. Friends with Better Lives was a romantic comedy about six friends at different stages in their lives - married, divorced, newly engaged and single - who were outwardly happy, but secretly questioning if their friends have it better. The series starred Majandra Delfino, Kevin Connolly, James Van Der Beek, Brooklyn Decker, Rick Donald and Zoe Lister Jones.
New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)
09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Saturday, October 1
The Good Place - "Pilot" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Thanks to some kind of error, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), an ordinary woman, enters the afterlife and is sent to the Good Place -- which is definitely not where she belongs. While hiding in plain sight from Michael (Ted Danson), the wise architect of the Good Place who is unaware that he's made a mistake, she's determined to shed her old way of living and discover the awesome person within. Helping Eleanor navigate her new surroundings are Chidi (William Jackson Harper), her kind, open-hearted "soulmate" who sees the good in people but finds himself facing quite a dilemma; her frustratingly perfect new neighbors, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jianyu (Manny Jacinto); and Janet (D'Arcy Carden), a walking, talking source for all the knowledge in the universe.
The Good Place - "Flying" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Eleanor (Kristen Bell) tries to prove to Chidi (William Jackson Harper) that she is worthy of his help. Meanwhile, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jianyu (Manny Jacinto) try to help Michael (Ted Danson) feel better about the unknown flaw in his Neighborhood.
The Good Place - "Tahani Al Jamil" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Chidi (William Jackson Harper) begins formally teaching Eleanor (Kristen Bell) about ethics, and lesson No. 1 is: be kind to your neighbor. Michael (Ted Danson) and Janet (D'Arcy Carden) help Chidi find a new, exciting hobby.
The Good Place - "Jason Mendoza" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Eleanor (Kristen Bell) faces her toughest test yet in her attempt to remain in hiding. Meanwhile, Michael (Ted Danson) enlists Tahani (Jameela Jamil) to help a fellow neighbor fulfill her true purpose.
Henry Danger - "Scream Machine" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Charlotte's invention for The Gizmo Show is accidentally destroyed and then rebuilt, Charlotte worries that the attention she gets could expose Kid Danger and Captain Man's secret identity.
Game Shakers - "The Very Old Finger" (Nickelodeon, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The Game Shakers visit a mummy exhibit to get ideas for a new game they're working on. Hudson accidentally snaps off one of its fingers. Babe leads a quest to glue it back on without getting caught.
School of Rock - "With or Without You" (Nickelodeon, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Lawrence tries to prove his value to the group by taking over the production of their first recording, but his methods create a rift in the band. Guest Star: Brec Bassinger
Sunday, October 2
- Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project/The Office) - Catch Mindy on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project/The Office) - Watch Mindy on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. She chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens/Anything But Love) - Jamie Lee visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) - Kumail appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Steve Agee (The Sarah Silverman Program) and Brendon Small (Home Movies) - Steve and Brendon are guests on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Kevin Nealon (Weeds/Champs/Hiller and Diller) - Kevin stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Kenan Thompson (Kenan & Kel) - Kenan drops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Chris Gethard (Broad City) - Chris chats about the play Career Suicide on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Abigail Spencer (Burning Love) - Abigail talks about Timeless on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 10am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 2pm. She is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Nicole Byer (Loosely, Exactly Nicole) - Nicole is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
- Rob Riggle (Golan the Insatiable) - Rob talks about Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life on the AOL Build Show at 3pm.
- Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso talks how many America's Funniest Home Videos get submitted and the funny home videos he wants to submit with his family on People Now at 8:30am.
- Jennifer Esposito (Samantha Who?/Spin City) - Jennifer is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Sara Rue (Impastor/Less Than Perfect) - Sara appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Jay Ellis (Insecure/The Game) - Jay is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.