Boop’s Fall Must (and Must Not) See TV (September 25, 2009)

On an unexpected leave from my usual anal retentive sensibility, I have been a horrible procrastinator this week. In fact, I ought to be writing a review for the play I saw Tuesday night, Fake, at the Steppenwolf, this very moment. For a variety of reasons, like maybe the continuous grey skies that make my eyelids heavy, I haven’t been feeling it.

In this indolent state of mind, it’s is just my luck that the Fall TV season is in full swing. Most years, I take a shine to a new show or two. Sometimes they get cancelled (Samantha Who?, Eli Stone) and I am indifferent. But this time around, it has been a pleasant surprise to discover that of the five new network programs I have sampled (a high count to begin with), I actually care a lot about four of them, and absolutely adore two. If any of these were cancelled, I may even be tempted to join one of those online letter writing campaigns I have always mocked.

For those of you that have spouses, mates and children to talk to on the weeknights, thus precluding you from spending three hours in front of the idiot box – I both envy and pity you – but that’s another post for another time. But if you have seen any of these programs, weigh in and tell me what you think.

Can’t Miss

1. Modern Family – This is a true comedic gem, and what makes the show the more endearing is its utter plausibility. Familes in 2009 are diverse and complicated and finally, I see a primetime clan that looks like my own. The Pritchett family includes a longterm gay couple that has recently adopted a Vietnamese girl; an older patriarch who marries a thirtysomething hottie Latina, and gains a sensitive 11 year-old stepson; late-30s spouses married for 16 years – Mom is a former girl gone wild and Dad mistakenly thinks he is as hip and relevant as ever. The realism is great, but that is not what makes this show an utter gut buster. To prove my point, check out the following clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVjbUEGb8gs

2. Glee – Confession time: Boop was a member of the Chicago Children’s Choir from 1994-1996, which makes the appeal of this show about an outcast high school Glee club particularly personal. But even if you think you hate “musicals,” this program is more than worth your time. Jane Lynch, scene stealer in The 40 Year-Old Virgin, is perfection as relentless cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. And the production numbers are flawless. Here’s one that gave me goosebumps:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuh5BURHNE4

If You Have Time

1. Cougar Town – God I hope I age as well as Courtney Cox. Much has been made of the actress’s “warts and all” approach to portraying a middle-aged, newly single divorcee, but I would flash my robe open on the first episode too if I had her body. Beyond the superficial though, there is a reason this woman has been in the television business since she played Alex’s girlfriend Lauren on Family Ties. She is cute, accessible and an accomplished physical comedienne. I am hoping the show lasts long enough for the inevitable hookups between lead character Jules and ex-husband Bobby, or neighbor Grayson. Nobody knows how to do hot grown men like ABC, I’ll say that (Desperate Housewives or Lost anyone?).

2. Community – I nearly put this on the “Can’t Miss” list but I didn’t want you folks to think I wasn’t discriminating. This winking meta-sitcom revels in its likeness to great 80s film The Breakfast Club. The show, ostensibly about a souless lawyer who must go back and earn the Bachelor’s degree he faked, puts Joel McHale with a bizarre and believably quirky cast of characters that includes Chevy Chase as eccentric billionaire oil tycoon Pierce.

I have never liked The Soup on the E! Network, with McHale. My friend Diane will want to throw tomatoes at me, but I just never got over former hosts Hal Sparks and Jon Henson (bet you thought I was going to say Greg Kinnear – not so). However, Community, has turned me into a huge Joel fan. He strikes just the right balance between cool and calculating with a touch of humanity. And this show is far and away the best thing Chevy Chase has done since National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Need proof? Check out Pierce and Jeff’s “F” grade earning Spanish skit at the end of last night’s episode. Sidesplitting.

Run Like Your Hair Is On Fire

1. Melrose Place – In a word, awful. It’s one of those shows where I find myself wondering: when the powers that be watched back the taped episodes they had to air, how did they greenlight them? Someone should have spoken up, if only for the desecration heaped upon the great 1990s original. The only compliments I can pay are to Thomas Calabro and Laura Leighton, as returning gruesome twosome Michael and Sydney. They are every bit as dangerous and sexy in their 40s as they were in their early 30s. Of the new characters, who are nearly a universal waste, only Katie Cassidy as nouveau corporate bitch Ella has any potential.

Supposedly, in a strange case of deja vu, Heather Locklear is set to return to save the show from itself. I verily believe this piece of garbage might get cancelled before Amanda Woodward has a chance to work it.

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