Tuned In Journal

Starz's 'Survivor's Remorse' is one of fall's best new shows

Wednesday, 01 October 2014 09:01 AM Written by

Survivors Remorse blog

 

Sometimes TV’s best are the least heralded shows, unexpected gems that seemingly come out of nowhere.

Starz’s six-episode “Survivor’s Remorse” (9 p.m. Saturday) is just such a program. Yes, it’s another half-hour series that’s as much a drama as it is a comedy, but it’s certainly lighter than plenty of other dark, dire half-hours and more fun, too.

Written by Mike O’Malley (“Glee,” “Yes, Dear”) and executive produced by basketball star LeBron James, among others, “Survivor’s Remorse” follows young pro basketball player Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher) as he’s thrust into the limelight after signing a multi-million-dollar contract with an Atlanta team.

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Happyland blog

 

There’s something easily romanticized about behind-the-scenes life at an amusement park and MTV’s “Happyland” (11 tonight) taps into that for a genial teen soap that’s light and bubbly.

But this half-hour series, which is only mildly funny on occasion -- it’s more interested in relationship drama than tweaking the funny bone -- doesn’t have much new to offer beyond its fairly unique setting and an end-of-premiere reveal that producers already suggested turns out to be a red herring.

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selfie blog

There’s a programing adage that suggests new comedies usually work better as part of a two-hour comedy block, woven in among returning, successful series. ABC discards that rule with its back-to-back comedy premieres Tuesday.

‘Selfie’

ABC puts its better foot forward with this modern update of “Pygmalion”/“My Fair Lady,” a cute enough pilot from writer Emily Kapnek (“Suburgatory”). But is there really a weekly TV series to be had here? Time will tell.

Former high school loser Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan, “Doctor Who”) has transformed herself into a social media star but she has no real-world friends, perhaps because she comes off as shallow and narcissistic.

When she’s involved in an embarrassing incident on a business trip and her co-workers mock her online, Eliza decides she needs a makeover and seeks out her company’s marketing guru, Henry (John Cho, “Sleepy Hollow”), to help accomplish her goal.

Henry is not a fan of Eliza’s antics.

“You are addicted to the instant gratification of unearned adulation from a group of perfect strangers you insist on referring to as your friends!” he lectures her.

It’s true that Eliza is vapid and viewers who only see that – and don’t buy the poor, little unpopular girl back story – will likely flee “Selfie” despite some decent au courant humor. This Eliza is a far cry from Eliza Doolittle of “My Fair Lady,” who was constrained by class, not her own poor choices.

By the end of the pilot, the Eliza of “Selfie” (8 p.m. Tuesday, WTAE) has made a few tentative steps forward. She’s learned the name of the office receptionist and made nice with her Zooey Deschanel lookalike neighbor. Presumably future episodes will track more of her three-steps-forward-two-steps-back misadventures in becoming civil.

In some ways, “Selfie” feels like Ms. Kapnek took the Dalia Royce character from “Suburgatory” and made her the center of a new series. Dalia was fantastic as the spice on “Suburgatory” but sometimes making the spice the centerpiece doesn’t work. (Try to imagine a “Karen” spin-off from “Will & Grace.”)

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TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by clicking here.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “The Big Bang Theory,” “Taxi Brooklyn” and “The Kitchen.” As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

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'Family Guy' meets 'The Simpsons' Sunday

Thursday, 25 September 2014 07:44 PM Written by

 

photos-of-family-guy-and-simpsons-crossover-episode-the-griffins-will-go-to-springfield-this-fall

Sunday’s “Family Guy” (9 p.m., WPGH) features a first-ever crossover with “The Simpsons” when the Griffin family visits Springfield and meets Homer and family in an entertaining, slyly self-deprecating hour that largely pokes fun at “Family Guy.”

“A crossover always brings out the best in each show,” says Chris, running counter to conventional wisdom, as he watches an “All in the Family”-“Modern Family” crossover. “It certainly doesn’t smack of desperation. The priorities are always creative and not driven by marketing.”

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On the set of Showtime's 'Masters of Sex'

Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:20 AM Written by

living room

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Showtime's "Masters of Sex" ends its second season Sunday night, so in preparation for what will be the final episode until sometime in 2015, let's take a tour of the show's set on the Sony lot.

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It's 'Scandal'-ous: ABC's 'How to Get Away with Murder'

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 10:42 AM Written by

 

HTGAWM

Fans of “Scandal,” ABC’s unhinged guilty pleasure soap that moves to 9 p.m. for its fourth season premiere Thursday, will likely revel in its new companion series, “How to Get Away with Murder” (10 p.m. Thursday, WTAE), the season’s most enjoyably ludicrous, fast-moving new drama.

Executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, who is now in charge of all of ABC’s prime-time from “Grey’s Anatomy” on, and created by former “Scandal” writer Pete Nowalk, “How to Get Away with Murder” serves up a pilot that grabs viewers by their lapels and sprints forward, introducing a wealth of characters and plots. Not interested in one? No worries. Wait 30 second and “Murder” will have moved on to another.

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ABC goes for cultural laughs in 'Black-ish'

Tuesday, 23 September 2014 08:59 AM Written by

 

blackish

At least ABC has finally quit putting twentysomething, niche-appeal comedies behind “Modern Family” and instead opted for a more compatible family sitcom in “Black-ish” (9:30 p.m. Wednesday, WTAE).

While the title and premiere episode suggest “Black-ish” is a sitcom about race, it’s more accurately a pretty traditional family comedy from a black – or black-ish – point of view.

How traditional? In the pilot, the only episode ABC made available for review, patriarch Andre “Dre” Johnson (Anthony Anderson, “Guys with Kids”) is presented as a Dumb Daddy in the “According to Jim,” “Home Improvement” mold. His reactions are extreme and always tempered by the common sense approach of his bi-racial doctor wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross, “Girlfriends”), and mocked by his own father, Pops (Laurence Fishburne, “Hannibal”).

ABC did release a description of episode two, which appears to have nothing to do with race. Rather, it’s about Dre messing up the sex talk with his teenage son, pretty standard, family sitcom fodder.

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