Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Shows for Next Season: What Looks Good

It's upfronts time, which means previews of recently greenlit shows for next season are floating around the interwebs. Out of what I've been able to track down, here are a few that I'm excited about:

Terra Nova
This show has been buzzed about for over a year, but now there are actual real previews, and I for one am super psyched. Dystopian future! Dinosaurs! Pretty scenery!

It has former-Buffy producer power behind it, and it looks awesome. I can't resist a good twisted fairy tale. This one could go either way, but it looks much better than the preview for ABC's "Once Upon a Time," and I have high hopes.

Another Fox show, this one from mastermind J.J. Abrams. The premise sounds silly, but the preview looks pretty cool. The general idea is that all of the prisoners on Alcatraz vanished into thin air on the last day the prison was open, and are now popping up in our time and committing crimes. There seems to be some kind of conspiracy lurking in the background (and I wouldn't expect anything less than a super-complicated mystery from Abrams).

This could be very cool, or it could get old fast. A man lives in two realities - one where his son died in a car crash, and one where his wife died in a car crash. Every time he goes to sleep, he wakes up in the other reality, and he doesn't want to let go of either one.

I'm on the fence about this one, but I'm a sucker for shows with good singing, and this could be promising. Debra Messing and Katherine McPhee in a show about the building of a Broadway musical.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Show You Should Be Watching: "Happy Endings"

"Happy Endings" is a sitcom about a group of six very different friends living in the city. Which makes it sound like just about every other sitcom on TV right now, including 3 or 4 others that have started just this season with almost the exact same premise.

But "Happy Endings" has something most of those other shows don't have - it's joyful. The characters mesh. They feel like actual friends. They banter and have a good time at each other's expense, but none of it is really mean-hearted. And, most importantly, watching them is actually funny.

Take the clip below from the most recent episode, where single girl Penny accidentally starts dating a hipster and tries to fit in to his world, with the help of slacker gay Max.

This intersects with a plot where Max is competing with uptight badass Jane to find out which one would be able to survive a zombie apocalypse - by the end of the episode, they are on the run from a crowd of zombie-like hipsters trying to catch a food truck.

Part of the show's appeal is that any of the characters can be paired together and funny things happen. No interaction feels strained or faked. These actors seem to be genuinely enjoying playing off of each other, and it makes the show that much more enjoyable. Certainly some of the plotlines are sitcom staples, but the pure fun of the characters and the realistically snarky banter they throw back and forth makes this much better watching than most shows formed around similar premises.

I wasn't totally convinced by the pilot, but this show has really gelled, and I for one hope that it sticks around for awhile. The ratings haven't been quite so hopeful, due I'm sure at least partly to the fact that the show started in mid-April in a 10 p.m time slot. ABC has been airing two episodes at a time many weeks, so they may be trying to burn off the episodes. I hope this is not the case, and I hope that this show attracts more of the audience it deserves. It's only been 7 episodes, but these characters are starting to feel like old friends, and I would hate to lose them so soon.

All 7 of the first episodes are available on Hulu.