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TV That Matters 9/22: New Girl, Up All Night, Always Sunny and Modern Family

New Girl- Pilot

C+

There's not much to like about "New Girl."  Most people's predictions for the show are largely based around how they feel about Zooey Deschanel, but everything else about the show is so painfully unfunny, bordering on annoying, that her performance is a non-issue. 

The premise is a fun, quirky girl named Jess (Deschanel) breaks up with her boyfriend and decides to find a new place to live.  She answers an online ad looking for a roommate and moves in with three guys.  The roommates are some of the most irksome characters to ever be inserted into a television series, as well as unoriginal.

One is a sports fanatic that has trouble interacting with women, one is a douchey bro, and the other is a heartbroken sad sack still recovering from a break up six months ago.  Nothing about any of them is funny. 

Ms. Deschanel's character is very typical of her, a manic pixie dream girl that likes cute, fun things.  If you like her other work, you'll probably enjoy her character and the show as a whole.  She's actually pretty entertaining in it.  But those going into the show with a less than favorable opinion of her will find little else worth enjoying.

 

Up All Night- Pilot

Grade: B

Will Arnett is a cursed man.  Since his tenure on Fox's ill-fated but critically acclaimed Arrested Development, Arnett has been involved in a variety of failed projects (Running Wilde and Sit Down, Shut Up come to mind) that couldn't get off the ground.  This is not a critique of Arnett himself, who is actually very humorous.  It's still too early to tell if "Up All Night" will meet the same fate of early cancelation.   

"Up All Night" is a well-meaning show about a couple having their first baby.  Will Arnett's character Chris decides to leave his law firm when they have the baby to become a stay at home dad.  His wife (played by Christina Applegate) returns to her job as the producer of a talk show hosted by Bridesmaids' Maya Rudolph.    

The pilot revolves around the couple trying to find the time to celebrate their anniversary while balancing work, and culminates in the couple hung over, trying to take care of the baby. 

There's a certain charm to the show's ability to portray parents who use expletives to describe how beautiful their baby is, and Will Arnett exclaiming "Are we dead?" while tending to the child hung-over was pretty amusing.   

The pilot is a little slow moving with only scattered laughs, but there's definitely potential for the show to pick up in the coming weeks.

 

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia- Frank's Pretty Woman

Grade: A-

Sunny is back, and not just in terms of a new season.  I mean in terms of being one of the most vulgar and hilarious shows on TV.  The season premiere was easily the best episode the show has had in a while.

Dennis summed it up best when he voiced concern that the gang was becoming the "gross crew."  Between Danny DeVito's eerily long hair, Rob McElhenney's weight gain, and Charlie Day being covered in blood after repeatedly vomiting blood on a woman in the back of a limousine, the gang certainly has taken a gross turn.  

The three storylines were all equally dark and uncomfortable: Dennis tries to convince Mac that the weight he's gained is unhealthy so he takes him to the doctor.  There they discover that not only does Mac have diabetes, but also that Dennis is terribly unhealthy due to starving himself.  So the two settle on smoking crack and wearing ugly Hawaiian shirts as a solution.  Dee attempts to turn around the life of a prostitute Frank is determined to marry, and Charlie tries to set up Frank with a woman he met online.  

The Charlie storyline was perhaps my favorite.  There's nothing more comical than Charlie Day wearing an all denim outfit trying to convince a woman that he's a millionaire, but only so that she will agree to go out on a date with his fake limo driver Frank.  The best line of the night might have been him explaining that he made his millions in "boiled denims" and "bridges."

Going into the episode I was worried about how exactly they would handle Fat Mac (McElhenney gained the weight for the show because he believed the cast getting worse looking after the show became successful would be funnier than the norm of actors getting better looking through the years) but the pairing of Mac with the always narcissistic Denis was perfection in this episode. 

 

Modern Family- Dude Ranch

Grade: A-

Coming off of several big wins at the Emmys (including Outstanding Comedy Series, among a host of others) Modern Family had a lot riding on this premiere.  Would it live up to fans expectations?  Would they keep any new viewers tuning in for the first time after the Emmys?

"Dude Ranch" is just about as perfect an episode of Modern Family as you're going to get.  It was everything the show does right, rolled up into one episode.  There was something for every character to do, and the entire cast hit their marks perfectly.

The family heads to a dude ranch for vacation, where Phil sets out to prove his worth to Jay and Mitch tries to improve his manliness because he may have a baby boy on the way.  Dylan comes along too, which Claire is vocally against. 

The running gag of the cowboy nicknaming everyone was great (Claire's name was Bossy), but the highlight of the episode was Phil's reaction to his name "Buffalo Phil" ("Worth the wait!"). 

Dylan has always been one of my favorite characters, and this appearance was no exception.  His song "I rode a horse for the first time today/ I wasn't surprised when it went neigh!" had me in stiches.  Oddly enough Dylan stays behind at the end of the episode to work on the ranch.  I expected him to back by the next episode (he wasn't) so I hope he's not gone for good. 

"Dude Ranch" was a strong episode because it managed to be both incredibly funny and heartwarming, something not every show can pull off but Modern Family does consistently well.     

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