Monday, May 16, 2011

NBC Addendum - Fall Comedy Trailers

Here are a few trailers that NBC released at their upfronts today, which came among trailers for every new show debuting next season, midseason included. All three of these are the new sitcoms debuting in the fall, Up All Night, Free Agents, and Whitney. Accompanied with each is a brief commentary offering more full impression than what I said yesterday with the fall schedule. With a more complete idea of what each show will offer, I'll come off more as a critic than I did previously.

Okay, now onto the trailers.

Up All Night -- This relationship comedy feels like a series version of the recent Katherine Heigl movie Life as We Know It, albeit with a husband and wife in place of a casual couple saddled with an unpleasant surprise. So far, though this appears to be better, even with a weaker premise than the movie had. On the upside, we are treated to an inspired bit of casting, offering Will Arnett more substantial material than he had with last season’s FOX bomb Running Wilde. Further, Christina Applegate seems to give him better byplay than Keri Russell did a year ago. And even before it hits the air, this sitcom already has a breakout character in mind – Maya Rudolph (solidifying SNL producer Lorne Michel’s involvement on the show) playing Applegate’s girl-friend, and she seems to be trying a touch too hard in this sneak preview. Some of this material is a bit chuckle-worthy, though and it takes advantage of the situation a great deal.

Free Agents -- What we have here is another relationship comedy, with less recognizable talents on hand resulting in this series getting the second-banana bump in the new Wednesday hour of comedy. Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria plays a man recovering from a divorce and Kathryn Hahn (an actress who’s been around, but not enough to leave an impression) as a woman who lost her fiancĂ©. Sparks supposedly fly as the two of them balance their professional lives with their personal troubles, offering some trite forms of humor. The preview did not me offer many laughs, and came off as tepid at best. As a workplace comedy, it seems more ideal a choice for Thursday nights, alongside The Office and Parks & Recreation, although it doesn’t come even close to those levels. It feels more like a romantic comedy, and a pretty lame one at that.

Whitney -- If there’s any problem with the choice of a multi-camera setup with this show, its how much Whitney stands out against just all the new sitcom pickups, let alone the rest of NBC’s comedies. When your comedies predominantly resemble feature films and even take advantage of it in their substance in a few cases, a show that features a laugh track undercutting the humor at every turn just proves distracting. I’ve had to scan back and forth through the preview for Whitney a few times just to get the overall feel of the comedy, I was so frequently distracted. But, putting that aside when I did get the main feel of it I was a little unimpressed. There were a few funny moments from time to time, so I do see some potential, but I saw a few bad beats as well. The premise is nothing special, while the show-driving factor of a boyfriend and girlfriend’s relationship does seem to fit the casting choice of a comedienne. Speaking of which, Whitney Cummings herself is good so far as an actress. She’s able to deliver her jokes with a reasonable sense of timing and doesn’t distract in her reading of dialogue.

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