Comedy becomes more of a deal breaker on this next set of new spring shows. Some take from an established set of parameters while others take a new approach and work or literally go off the deep end. Success is in the ratings but creativity in the eyes of the beholder.
Parks & Recreation Amy Poehler’s new series bears more than a striking resemblance to “The Office” but it is her want to make this the best it can that comes through. In sticking with the one character, she creates an element of self deprecation that shines. In the first two episodes, the jokes are still finding their footing and some go on too long but the basis is there. The characters themselves will be flushed out but it is one of her co-workers who is revealed to be an Indian man raised in North Carolina that really creates a nice volley back and forth. And Amy’s looks at the camera as an inside joke perfectly hit the mark. So far though the actual episodes are interconnected and not so much stand-alone which needs to be considered. The crux of the series is that they are making a park but there needs to be other problems at hand that they have to deal with. A love interest should and will find its way into this character’s life. You have to love it when Amy is pushing down a drunk that got stuck in the slide on the kids’ playground with a broom, smiling all the while.
Krod Mandoon & The Flaming Sword Of Fire This new entry from Comedy Central has some elements of Mel Brooks and other low budget humor. It is very British in its possibilities but the cast is inherently American. There are some moments of zany goofiness but a lot of the jokes tend to fall flat. There is an almost parallel to “Blazing Saddles” even though that piece is a much superior work. The pagan girlfriend is a hoot since Krod, the lead, is pining for her to be a nice girl but that needs to come to a head. The ruler of the kingdom is very much a King John-type even though he likes to wear a furry codpiece. The concept sounds good on paper but the talent involved never quite pulls it up to snuff.
The Unusuals Like “Life On Mars”, this cop fusion drama tries to take the genre and make it a little more eccentric. While “Life On Mars” had the time travel element, this episodic focuses on the weird cases without making them seem small, like a cat serial killer or an bungling crime family who robs banks to pay for their father’s kidney transplant. The cast is good and diversified from Jeremy Renner and Amber Tamblyn in the lead to Harold Perrineau (hot off “Lost”) and Adam Goldberg as cops contemplating when their mortality will come. The show has much more sarcasm than humor although a little more chemistry needs to come through. It is an adequate set up and the pace is nice. However, nothing truly comes off as exceptional or cinematic, although the music and editing is quite hip and moving which does set it off from others of its kind.
Better Off Ted Coming out of nowhere, this retro modern ironic comedy is half “Mad Men”, half “Office Space” and all fun. The comedy and stylistic elements of its creativity come fast and furious. The writing is unbelievably good and the actors can really sell it while still being aware of its tongue-in-cheek nature. This is the kind of series that only ABC can pull off once in a while that is so sardonic and whimsical that it can’t possibly last. But unlike “Pushing Daisies” which was much more expensive, this outing is economical letting the words speak for themselves. And it is not just the leads. The two doctors in the lab are phenomenally funny and take it to another level. The chemistry between the two leads of Ted and Linda is palpable and are playing it with the right kind of push and shove that makes this work (much like currently on “Chuck”). And Portia De Rossi as the cold, foxy and unique boss comes off unlike anything we have seen recently in this kind of role. She makes it all her own. Plus this is a half hour show so by the time it really gets going, it leaves you wanting more…as all good things do. It is a good one. Here’s hoping it survives.
And the rock keeps on coming…