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

    Wednesday, October 20

    The Goldbergs - "An Itch Like No Other" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    With Beverly’s encouragement, Mr. Glascott moves in next door to the Goldbergs and slowly goes from friendly neighbor to cluelessly intrusive. Adam and Murray become increasingly disgruntled while Beverly comes up with a plan to occupy Mr. Glascott’s time with a new friend, Mr. Woodburn. Meanwhile, Barry lands in urgent care with a case of poison ivy in a compromising area – his rear end. Erica and Geoff are called to task to take care of Barry and his ridiculous demands – inadvertently testing their parenting skills and patience with one another.

    The Wonder Years - "The Lock In" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Dean is reluctant to attend the annual church lock-in until Kim tells him it’s where she got her first kiss. He enlists his friends to help him pair up with Keisa, but his plans are thwarted when he instead gets paired up with the pastor’s daughter, Charlene.

    The Conners - "Trucking Live in Front of a Fully Vaccinated Studio Audience -- East Coast" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Lights, Camera, Action: “The Conners” is going live for both the East and West Coast broadcasts of the season four premiere episode. This iconic TV family continues to deal with the current pandemic while navigating breakups and newfound sobriety, all while planning an upcoming wedding.

    Home Economics - "Giant Jenga, $120" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Tom spirals when Connor dates a woman who broke his heart at summer camp. Then, family game night becomes an all-or-nothing competition between Marina and Denise.

    Superstar - "Robin Williams" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    The new episode recounts his life through Robin Williams’ own voice, describing “the spark of madness” which defined his life. From his early days in the San Francisco Bay Area comedy scene to his meteoric rise on “Mork & Mindy,” the one-hour special explores the experiences that made Williams into a one-of-a-kind talent and reveals what gave voice to the characters in his mind. It also chronicles the creative force driving critically acclaimed films like “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society,” as well as fan favorites such as “Aladdin.” The special explores his personal struggles, including substance abuse and depression, and his battle with Lewy Body Dementia before his tragic death in 2014. “Superstar: Robin Williams” features interviews with famous comedians and actors who knew and admired Williams, including Margaret Cho, Howie Mandel, Lewis Black, Jimmie Walker, Paula Poundstone, Gina Hecht and Pauly Shore, as well as Barry Levinson, director of multiple films starring Williams including “Good Morning, Vietnam.” The program also contains interviews with Williams from the ABC News archives, in which he opens up about his life and the highs and lows of his distinguished career.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 18)

    Wednesday, October 20

    • Rami Malek (The War at Home) - Watch Rami on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Issa Rae (Insecure) - Issa appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Billy Bob Thornton (Hearts Afire) - Billy Bob is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Jamie Foxx (Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!/The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
    • Leah Remini (Kevin Can Wait/The Exes/Family Tools/The King of Queens/Fired Up) - Leah guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Debra Messing (Will & Grace/Ned & Stacey) - Debra talks about her latest project: how self-care can change the world on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
    • Ron Howard (Arrested Development/Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) and Clint Howard (Gung Ho) - Ron and Clint discuss their new book, The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Amy Sedaris (No Activity/BoJack Horseman/Strangers with Candy) - It's a TV exclusive with sister and brother duo Amy and David Sedaris appearing together for the first time on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) - Jeremy talks about FBI on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • David Eigenberg (Sex and the City) - David talks about NBC's Chicago Fire on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick talks about Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (June-October)

    Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Young Sheldon - The Complete Fourth Season Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)

    06/08 - The Critic - The Complete Series
    06/08 - Fuller House - The Fifth and Final Season
    06/08 - Fuller House - The Complete Series
    06/08 - Our Cartoon President - Season 3
    06/15 - The Office - Season 1 (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9
    06/15 - Parks and Recreation - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    07/07 - No Activity - Season 2
    07/13 - The Unicorn - Season 2
    07/20 - Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season
    07/27 - Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
    07/27 - Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
    07/27 - The Neighborhood - Season Three
    08/20 - The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - Deluxe Edition (100 Episodes) (Time Life)
    08/20 - The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - Standard Edition (50 Episodes) (Time Life)
    08/24 - The Jim Gaffigan Show - Season 2
    09/07 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
    10/19 - Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    10/20 - Fox Announces Special Post NFL January Premieres; TBS Comedy Wipeout Returns in January for Season 2
    10/19 - One Final Family Reunion on Netflix; Apple TV+ Announces Premiere Date for Harriet the Spy
    10/18 - GAC Family Acquires Classic Sony Sitcoms; Remembering Betty Lynn from The Andy Griffith Show
    10/17 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 18, 2021)
    10/16 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Could a Looming Strike Shut Down TV Production?; GAC Family Acquires Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Silver Spoons, and More
    10/15 - Dickinson Final Season Date Announced; Superstar: Robin Williams to Air Next Week (Oct. 20)
    10/14 - Antenna TV's Bewitched 24-Hour Halloween Marathon; Rewind TV's Sabrina Witch-O-Ween Marathon
    10/13 - Head of the Class Reboot Premieres Nov. 4, Guest Stars Robin Givens; The Bear Coming to FX
    10/12 - CBS Picks Up First 2 New Series for Full Seasons; On My Block Spinoff Series Cast Set
    10/11 - Netflix Orders That '90s Show Featuring Red and Kitty; Nash Bridges Movie Premieres Nov. 27 on USA Network
    10/10 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 11, 2021)
    10/09 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Netflix Orders That '70s Show Spinoff Featuring Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith; Nash Bridges Revival Movie Premiere Date Set
    10/08 - Fri-Yay: CBS’s Ghosts Is the Most Interesting New Comedy of the Year; Insecure to Hold Festival for Final Season
    10/07 - Mini Desperate Housewives Reunion on Hallmark Christmas Movie; The Kids Tonight Show Premieres Oct. 14
    10/06 - And Just Like That... We Get a Premiere Date; The CW Holiday Specials Schedule
    10/05 - New Peanuts Holiday Special on Apple TV+, PBS to Air Classic Holiday Specials; COZI TV Acquires Heartland
    10/04 - Disney Channel Orders Season 5 of Raven's Home; Freeform Picks Up Phoebe Robinson Comedy
    10/03 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 4, 2021)
    10/02 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 11 Premiere Date Set; Lori Loughlin Returns to TV Role
    10/01 - Fri-Yay: The Fall 2021 Sitcom Line-up Is Pretty Bare; Bounce Renews Johnson for Season 2
    09/30 - It's a Wonderful Lifetime Expands with 35 New Movies; Hulu & Lifetime Acquire Castle
    09/29 - Curb Your Enthusiasm Returns Yet Again; Archer Returning for Lucky Season 13 on FXX
    09/28 - Nick at Nite Acquires Mike & Molly; NBC Orders Night Court to Series
    09/27 - MeTV Network Halloween Schedule; HBO Max Renews The Other Two for Third Season
    09/26 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 27, 2021)
    09/25 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Night Court Reboot Gets Series Order; Season Premiere Date Set for The Orville
    09/24 - Fri-Yay: Ted Lasso Wins Big at The Emmys; CBS Expands Ghosts Premiere to One-Hour; Remembering Willie Garson of Sex and the City, Director Jay Sandrich
    09/23 - TBS, TNT and truTV Launch Fall-O-Ween, a Programming Block of Halloween Classics; HBO Max Comedy from Mindy Kaling Debuts November 18
    09/22 - Paramount+ Renews Rugrats for 2nd Season; Eva Longoria Producing Disney Sci-Fi Comedy
    09/21 - Family Guy, King of the Hill, The Cleveland Show and Futurama Joining FXX; HBO Max's Ten Year Old Tom Details
    09/20 - 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards Winners; Turner Celebrates Latinx Heritage Month with George Lopez, Tacoma FD and More