Wednesday, May 28, 2014

NBC Summer Pilot Review: Undateable - Premieres Thursday, May 29; CBS Pulls Friends with Better Lives, Bad Teacher Burn-Off

Undateable

Undateable - Thursdays at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 9:00PM ET/PT


by Vincent

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.

Cast Details:

Chris D'Elia as Danny
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 Plot:

"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."

Analysis:

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.

Conclusion:

There are some redeeming qualities to Undateable, but they're few and far between the moments of tired stereotypes, outdated gender roles, beaten-to-death plot formulas, and humorless jokes. It's not hard to see a good show lurking in here somewhere, and Bill Lawrence does have an ear for the multi-camera sitcom style (as evidenced by the imperfect but immensely watchable Ground Floor over on TBS), but it just doesn't feel like anyone involved is all that dedicated to finding the good in this show. If this were a show being given more time, I would hold out some hope that it would capitalize on the things it does well and push out its lesser qualities, but given it's place on the schedule, it's unlikely that this will ever turn into anything more than a giant missed opportunity.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 2/5
Funniness: 1.5/5
Overall: 1.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Undateable Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • Friends with Better Lives

    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.

    Bad Teacher

    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.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Thursday, May 26

    Young Sheldon - "The Grand Chancellor and a Den of Sin" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Sheldon battles President Hagemeyer’s (Wendie Malick) mysterious boss over the university’s science requirements. Also, Mary discovers that Georgie is working at Meemaw’s illegal gambling room.

    United States of Al - "College / Pohantoon" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Al struggles with the college class he is taking, Riley takes it upon himself to speak to his professor. Also, Art’s confidence is shaken when he learns Lois (Rachel Bay Jones) used to be married to a professional football star.

    Ghosts - "Ghostwriter" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Sasappis offers to help Sam complete the B&B website so they can start taking reservations, they butt heads over the creative direction. Also, Pete bonds with Jay over basketball until Jay makes a new living friend, and Flower attempts to be Pete’s new basketball buddy. Gregory Zaragoza, father of series regular Rom├ín Zaragoza, guest stars as Sasappis’ father, Naxasi.

    B Positive - "" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)

    A therapist and newly divorced dad is looking for a kidney donor when he runs into a rough-around-the-edges woman from his past who offers her own kidney.

    Welcome to Flatch - "Pyramid Schemme" / "Merry Flatchmas" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Kelly accidentally gets involved in a green juice pyramid scheme; Father Joe helps Shrub get into college; Kelly's father puts her in charge of the Flatch Christmas celebration, and disaster ensues.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 23)

    Thursday, May 26

    • Rose Byrne (Physical) - Catch Rose on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Jon Hamm (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) - Jon appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie/New Girl/Burning Love/Players) - June will be on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Glen Powell (Scream Queens) - Glen appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Jennifer Aniston (Friends/Muddling Through/Ferris Bueller/Molloy) - Jennifer is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Sherri Shepherd (Mr. Iglesias/Trial & Error/Sherri/Less Than Perfect/Suddenly Susan) - Sherri guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jenna Fischer (The Office/Splitting Up Together) and Angela Kinsey (The Office/The Hotwives of Orlando) - Jenna and Angela talk about their new book, The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There, on People in 10 at 8am.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (February-May)

    ALT= Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release) Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)

    02/08 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Ninth Season
    02/22 - Everybody Hates Chris - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    02/22 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Eight
    03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    03/15 - Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season
    03/15 - The Proud Family - The Complete Original Series - Anniversary Collection
    03/22 - The Honeymooners Specials - The Complete Collection
    03/29 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    03/29 - Young Rock - Season One
    04/05 - Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    04/26 - The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season
    04/26 - Jackie Gleason TV Treasures - 70th Anniversary Collection (including Honeymooners Rarities)
    05/03 - No Activity - Season Three
    05/31 - Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    05/26 - Seinfeld Joins Nick at Nite on Memorial Day; New Netflix Series Tops Weekly Chart
    05/25 - Black Comedy Revolution Doc to Air on A&E; MTV Movie & TV Awards to Air on Multiple Nets
    05/24 - Abbott Elementary Star to Host ABC Game Show; Amazon Orders The Hospital
    05/23 - Seth MacFarlane's Peacock Comedy Series Ted Rounds Out Cast; Twisted Metal Comedy Series in the Works
    05/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 23, 2022)
    05/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fall Broadcast Network Lineups Out; The CW Looking to Get Back Into Sitcom Business
    05/20 - HBO Renews Barry for Season 4; Apple TV+ Comedy Trying Returns in July; Remembering Maggie Peterson of The Andy Griffith Show
    05/19 - The CW Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Rick and Morty Returns as Anime on Adult Swim
    05/18 - CBS Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Turner Upfront Updates
    05/17 - ABC Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Pete Davidson Comedy Adds Edie Falco
    05/16 - NBC Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Fox Upfront 2022-23: Call Me Kat and Welcome to Flatch Renewed, Adds Two New Animated Comedies and Three New Dramas
    05/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 16, 2022)
    05/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Looking at Fall Renewals and Cancellations; Married... with Children Animated Reboot in the Works
    05/13 - NBC Renews 3 Sitcoms, Cancels 2; CBS and The CW Hand Out Orders & Pink Slips; Remembering Mike Hagerty and Sitcom Producer/Writer George Yanok
    05/12 - NBC Orders Lopez vs. Lopez Sitcom for 2022-23 Season; Amazon Renews Upload for Season 3
    05/11 - Disney's Bunk'd Returns June 10 for Season 6; Paramount+ to Be Exclusive SVOD Home of Ghosts
    05/10 - MeTV Network Adds The A-Team for The Summer of Me; HBO Max Renews Two Comedies for Season 2
    05/09 - Never Have I Ever Season 3 Premieres August 12; Netflix's The Upshaws Return in June
    05/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 9, 2022)
    05/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Saved by the Bell Reboot Canceled; Quantum Leap Reboot Picked Up at NBC
    05/06 - Hulu Comedy Maggie Gets Premiere Date; Chad Returns July 11 on TBS, While HBO Max Series Get Second Runs on TBS and TNT; Remembering David Birney of Bridget Loves Bernie
    05/05 - Freeform Summer 2022 Schedule; The Waltons Return to The CW This Holiday Season
    05/04 - Netflix Orders No Good Deed, from Dead to Me Creator; Cristela Alonzo Returns for New Comedy Special
    05/03 - That '70s Show Cast to Reunite on That '90s Show; Teri Hatcher and James Denton Reunite Again
    05/02 - Antenna TV's Always Mother's Day Marathon; The Real Celebrates Mother's Day with Classic TV Guests
    05/01 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 2, 2022)
    04/30 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The Conners Close to Season Five Renewal; James Corden Leaving The Late Late Show
    04/29 - Fri-Yay: Netflix's Struggles Create Question for the Future of Television; Hulu Acquires Schitt's Creek
    04/28 - Starz Comedy Run the World Returns with More Stars; HBO Max Orders Spin-off of Harley Quinn Animated Comedy Series
    04/27 - Freeform Orders Single Drunk Female Season 2 & New Series While You Were Breeding; Peacock Brings Back Wolf Like Me
    04/26 - The Orville Returns for Season 3 After 3 Year Hiatus; Fox Announces More Stars for Fantasy Island Season 2