Friday, June 02, 2017

Fri-Yay: Master of None & Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt New Seasons; CBS Fall 2017 Premiere Dates

Our Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows weekly report will now move to Sundays, because now we have a new feature from one of our writers, Vincent, that will dive into the week in sitcoms. The new feature is called Fri-Yay, so that means a look back on some of the best of comedy this past week or two! Happy Fri-Yay!

Master of None & Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

by Vincent

These days, sitcoms kind of come in all different shapes and sizes. If you're a sitcom traditionalist, preferring classical multi-camera set up with plenty of silly hijinks and audience laughter, there are plenty of shows for you that still exist - from network comedies like The Big Bang Theory and Kevin Can Wait to "reboots" of classic sitcoms on Netflix such as Fuller House and One Day at a Time. There are also still plenty of smart, slick, modern single-camera sitcoms with in the vein of The Office and Modern Family - some of my favorite contemporary examples include NBC's Superstore and Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But with the rise of streaming and "peak TV" has come with it a new type of sitcom. These sitcoms follow the sitcom mold - they're about 20-30 minutes long, are filled with jokes and lovable characters, and generally tell stories on an episode-by-episode basis. But they're also a little more complex than your average sitcom, are more comfortable telling serialized stories along with their episode-by-episode story lines, and aren't as constructed to the network-mandated act structure of a network (or even cable) sitcom. They're sitcoms designed for streaming services - essentially, they're sitcoms tailor-made for a new age.

Two of these streaming sitcoms - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Master of None, both Netflix originals - released new seasons this past few weeks. And both of these seasons featured plenty of examples of why both have become buzzed about and beloved cultural hits. Master of None featured two episodes in its season that may wind up being my two favorite episodes of television of this entire year - "New York, I Love You" (a series of disconnected vignettes about peripheral characters on the outskirts of its protagonist Dev's New York life) and "Thanksgiving" (a coming out story of Dev's best friend Denise that's perhaps the most raw and honest coming out story I've ever seen on TV.) These two episodes feature very little of Master of None's protagonist and have nothing to do with the show's central premise or storyline – they’re entirely experimental. And yet, they're some of the most fascinating and refreshing TV you'll find right now. Similarly, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's third season has some of the best joke writing you could possibly find, and there were several moments where I had to pause my TV because I was laughing so hard. What's even more impressive is the way the show weaves some very dark subject matter between these jokes, revolving around the horrors of Kimmy's past, which she spent being held captive by a madman who convinced her the world had ended. Kimmy started out as a network sitcom (the first season was written for NBC before they sold it to Netflix), but the show's Netflix home has allowed it to gradually uncover the horror of Kimmy's past while still keeping its joke-a-second pace rolling.

Still, while the freedom of Netflix allows these shows to flourish in many ways, there are also some ways where I feel these sitcoms could actually benefit from some of the tightness of network programming. The second season of Master of None spends a large amount of its time on a humdrum romance arc between Dev and a woman he meets in Italy named Francesca, cultivating in an episode that's 45 minutes long and entirely devoted to their relationship. The story is never as interesting as the show thinks it is, and I have to wonder if perhaps some creative restraints may have guided Ansari to either developing the story better or at least shortening it in places (like, maybe a 25 minute episode instead of 45 minutes?). Similarly, there are parts of Kimmy Schmidt's third season that feel like total misfires, particularly in the show's largely unfunny satire of college students that never quite finds its target. And yet, without any real network notes or ability for audience response to influence creative direction, the shows keep going with plotlines and beats that clearly aren't working. I wouldn't want Master of None or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to be network sitcoms, as I wouldn't want to lose their heir of experimentation, even if it means they sometimes lack consistency. But they're also signs that the traditional method of doing television may not be completely dead yet.


CBS has announced Fall 2017 primetime premiere dates. Premiere week opens with The Big Bang Theory at 8:00 PM, leading into the Special Series Premiere of Young Sheldon at 8:30 PM, and the New Comedy Me, Myself & I at 9:30 PM, on Monday, Sept. 25. New Drama SEAL Team joins Survivor and Criminal Minds when they premiere Wednesday, Sept. 27. Wisdom of the Crowd debuts Sunday, Oct. 1 at approx. 8:30 (after NFL), followed by the Season Premiere of NCIS: Los Angeles at approx. 9:30 PM. On Monday, Oct. 2, New Comedy 9JKL premieres at 8:30 PM, following The Big Bang Theory. CBS' Thursday Night Entertainment Lineup returns following the conclusion of Thursday Night Football on Nov. 2 with The Big Bang Theory at 8:00 PM, New Comedy Young Sheldon at 8:30 PM, Mom at 9:00 PM, Life in Pieces at 9:30 PM and New Drama S.W.A.T. at 10:00 PM. Full premiere dates are below:

Sunday, Sept. 24
7:30-8:30 PM — 60 Minutes (50th season premiere)

Monday, Sept. 25
8:00-8:30 PM — The Big Bang Theory (11th season premiere)
8:30-9:00 PM — Young Sheldon (special series debut)
9:00-9:30 PM — Kevin Can Wait (2nd season premiere)
9:30-10:00 PM — Me, Myself and I (series debut)
10:00-11:00 PM — Scorpion (4th season premiere)

Tuesday, Sept. 26
8:00-9:00 PM — NCIS (15th season premiere)
9:00-10:00 PM — Bull (2nd season premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM — NCIS: New Orleans (4th season premiere)

Wednesday, Sept. 27
8:00-9:00 PM — Survivor (35th season premiere)
9:00-10:00 PM — SEAL Team (series debut)
10:00-11:00 PM — Criminal Minds (13th season premiere)

Thursday, Sept. 28
7:30 PM ET — Thursday Night Football Pre-Game Show
8:25 PM ET — Thursday Night Football (Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers)

Friday, Sept. 29
8:00-9:00 PM — MacGyver (2nd season premiere)
9:00-10:00 PM — Hawaii Five-0 (8th season premiere
10:00-11:00 PM — Blue Bloods (8th season premiere)

Saturday, Sept. 30
10:00-11:00 PM — 48 Hours (30th season premiere)

Sunday, Oct. 1
8:30-9:30 PM — Wisdom of the Crowd (series debut)
9:30-10:30 PM — NCIS: Los Angeles (9th season premiere)

Monday, Oct. 2
8:30-9:00 PM — 9JKL (series debut)

Sunday, Oct. 8
10:00-11:00 PM — Madam Secretary (4th season premiere)

Monday, Oct. 30
8:00-8:30 PM — Kevin Can Wait (regular time period)
9:00-9:30 PM — Me, Myself and I (regular time period)
9:30-10:00 PM — Superior Donuts (2nd season premiere)

Thursday, Nov. 2
8:00-8:30 PM — The Big Bang Theory (regular time period)
8:30-9:00 PM — Young Sheldon (regular time period)
9:00-9:30 PM — Mom (5th season premiere)
9:30-10:00 PM — Life in Pieces (3rd season premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM — S.W.A.T. (series debut)

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, March 20

The Middle - "Hecks vs. Glossners: The Final Battle" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
It’s the Orson showdown of the century when the Hecks – along with the Donahues and Bill Norwood – wage a war against the Glossners after they steal Sue’s car.

Fresh Off the Boat - "King in the North" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Honey plans a relaxing vacation before the baby comes, but Jessica turns the trip into a crazy quest to get Stephen King’s endorsement for her novel. When Grandma Huang decides to move out, Louis panics and does everything he can to make sure she knows how welcome she is. Meanwhile, Eddie, Nicole and their friends plan to wear matching suits to the school dance until a dress code demands that the girls must wear dresses, leading Eddie and Nicole to rebel.

black-ish - "Things Were Different Then" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Dre reluctantly helps Junior plan Pops’ 65th birthday party and starts to see his dad’s past in a new light. Meanwhile, Bow decides to say “yes” to everything for a whole year and Jack & Diane take advantage of her.

Modern Family - "The Long Goodbye" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Phil and Claire realize that Alex may be more self-sufficient in college than they give her credit for when they drop in for a quick visit. Meanwhile, Manny is determined to avoid a long tearful goodbye after Gloria and Jay move him into his college dorm. Finally, Mitch may have accidentally accelerated a planned renovation, and Hayley gets an unexpected opportunity when she befriends a wealthy female member at the country club.

LA to Vegas - "Overbooked" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
The crew is forced to figure out how to get the passengers to give up their seats when the flight is overbooked; Nichole makes good money selling snacks while the flight is kept on hold; Artem has an argument with an surprise seatmate.

The Mick - "The Car" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jimmy and Mickey mistakenly lock Ben inside an old car Jimmy purchased at a police auction; Alba discovers that Chip has been assuming the identity of Sabrina's online crush in secret, but Alba decides to actively encourage his actions.

Baskets - "Basque-ets" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Chip laments becoming a fake Christmas tree person.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 19)

Tuesday, March 20

  • Bob Saget (Fuller House/How I Met Your Mother/Surviving Suburbia/Full House) - Catch Bob on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) - Thomas appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Laura Benanti (The Detour/Go On/Starved) - Laura is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Will stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Drew Barrymore (Santa Clarita Diet) - Drew visits Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm. She also talks about Santa Clarita Diet on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 10am hour with Liv Hewson and Skyler Gisondo.
  • Bryton James (Family Matters) - Bryton and the cast of The Young and the Restless are guests on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Patti Labelle (Out All Night) - Patti drops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Jay Pharoah (White Famous) - Jay appears on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Carly Chaikin (Subrgatory) - Carly is a guest on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Tisha Campbell-Martin (Dr. Ken/Rita Rocks/My Wife and Kids/Martin) - Tisha visits The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry stops by Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Sam Lerner (The Goldbergs) - Sam visits Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • John Corbett (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll/United States of Tara/Sex and the City) - John talks about his movie God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Adam DeVine (Workaholics/Modern Family) - Adam talks about Game Over, Man on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Nia Long (Uncle Buck/The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) - Nia talks about Roxanne Roxanne on the BUILD Series at 10am.
  • The Cast of You Me Her - Greg Pohler, Rachel Blanchard and Priscilla Faia are guests on the BUILD Series at 12:30pm.