Television

Small Screen Reviews

Dear reader I will subject myself to some new shows, and suffer through many of them, so you don’t have to. Fall premieres, mid-season replacements, Netflix originals and more can all add up to an overwhelming array of choices. You can’t watch them all (neither can I for that matter) but you can check this column from time to time and I will tell you which ones you can safely skip and which ones warrant viewing.

I don’t deal in ratings here, it’s a difficult and complex concept these days with live numbers and live + DVR calculations all factoring in. Coupled with other factors that affect renewal chances like the cost of a show, if its produced by the network that airs it and more it makes predicting cancellations and renewals difficult. That’s why at this point I refer you to TV By the Numbers. The site is excellent in their renewal/cancel predictions and nearly always right. They also have several detailed explanations on how the ratings system works and how they calculate their predictions. If you are a TV die-hard the site is a terrific resource.

I mention ratings only because I like to check them from time to time to see if I should bother getting into a show, even a good one, because often they don’t last. I’ve been hurt too many times and the great Chicago Code cancellation of 2011 was the last straw. I can’t trust networks anymore. They’re impatient, often don’t give new shows the chance to find an audience and can’t resist retooling borderline shows. For all these reasons I wait a while to check out a new program and if it looks headed for renewal I will try it out.

Without further delay here’s 3 relatively new shows you may not have seen and my capsule reviews. Life is too short to watch crappy shows! Happy viewing.

 

Cloud 9 Super Store

Look, its People of Walmart but with less funny!

Look, its People of Walmart but with less funny!

 

Super Store is a cookie-cutter sitcom with all the usual character types you have seen before. The super-hard working single mother who (surprise!) is smarter than you think she is, the wise cracking, irreverent employee, the guy who everyone thinks is so super amazing he shouldn’t even be working there because oooooh he has potential and the doofy boss who barely knows where he is but somehow got the keys to the store. It’s a throwaway show with almost no potential for improvement.

I had hoped this show would incorporate some of the best parts from Chuck, by which I mean the antics the Nerd Herd hilariously bumbled through at the Buy More. But there’s no heart in this show and no redeeming qualities. Even Adam Baldwin couldn’t make this worth your time.

Recommendation: Change the Channel

 

 

Grinder

Rob Lowe is aging in reverse

Rob Lowe is aging in reverse

 

Rob Lowe plays Dean Sanderson, an actor starring in a hit legal drama that drips with cheese and unrealistic courtroom drama. See he plays a guy who plays a guy. How meta! Anyway when Sanderson’s run on the show comes to an end he returns to his tiny home town and moves in with his brother, Stewart, played by Fred Savage (Wonder Years) and his wife Debbie played by Mary Elizabeth Ellis.

Dean mistakenly thinks that his time in television qualifies him to join the family law firm with Stewart and his father (William Devane) and is frequently shocked the real world isn’t as dazzled by his charm and intellect as television show juries were.

It’s smart, well acted and self-deprecating at times while also having the ability to make Lowes character seem deep and likeable rather than the usual “lacks self-awareness smug actor” archetype we’ve seen before. The Grinder, while very funny at times, is also a good study in how rich characters can actually be developed in ½ hour blocks. At times moving and often witty this is a show worthy of renewal I hope.

 

Recommendation: Must Watch

 

Grandfathered:

I'm not sure he knows how to hold a baby. Hilarious!

I’m not sure he knows how to hold a baby. Hilarious!

 

Jimmy Martino (John Stamos) is a successful restaurant owner with particular tastes, a bachelor’s life style, Peter Pan syndrome and exceedingly good looks for a man his age. Suddenly an old flame named Sara (Paget Brewster, Criminal Minds) breezes back into his life and Martino discovers he has a full-grown son and a granddaughter.

Predictably this news sends the vain and carefree Martino into a tailspin who descends into reckless dating and hair dying while he struggles to reconcile his feelings of youth with his title of Grandfather. Naturally his journey from rich, responsibility free man to a guy with a pre-packaged family is wrought with moments of regret and realization. Lessons are learned, feelings are hurt and, well, you get the picture.

There are some truly funny moments and as the show continues the cast does seem to be developing some actual chemistry. The characters might not be all terrifically original but they are well done, some genuine heart warming moments exist and Stamos has a way with the part. My hope is it gets one more season to gel and see if the potential it has shines through. As I said, networks aren’t patient anymore and they don’t always give a cast the chance to bond and develop chemistry but I do feel if they let this percolate it could be something.

Recommendation: DVR, watch when bored

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