MODERN FAMILY: A very sweet season kickoff that had some great Jay/Cam/Mitchell scenes as they built Lily a princess castle. Also loved the Phil/Claire story about “The Old Wagon.” Highlights for me: 1) Gloria quickly getting infuriated and sad when Manny wants to spend time with girls his own age. How could you not love her when she said to Manny, “I thought we were going to the movies tonight to see that movie with Shee-ah LeBoof” 2) Jay’s confession to the camera about working with Mitchell with power tools, “That was my Vietnam, and I was IN Vietnam.” And 3) “What’s the plan Phil??” Happily, MODERN FAMILY was one of the highest rated shows last night and it’s great to see the Emmy-winning comedy back with a bang.
COUGAR TOWN: Jennifer Aniston was good, nothing to write home about, which I expected. While the show still doesn’t make me laugh much, I still think Busy Phillips and Dan Byrd are the best things in the show. And speaking of Dan Byrd, if you haven’t seen EASY A yet (in theatres now), try to see it because Byrd is very good in the movie along with the very funny Emma Stone — you’ll be seeing her hosting SNL October 23rd.
TERRIERS: I loved last night’s episode “Change Partners.” Shawn Doyle (aka Joey from BIG LOVE) gave a superb performance as a jealous husband who got off on the idea of his wife cheating on him, and Olivia Williams was equally strong as the wife who didn’t want to cheat but wound up doing so…unexpectedly. Donal Logue’s performance was also beautifully shaded and emotionally gutting. TERRIERS is full of nuance, subtle writing and pitch perfect acting. If you’re not watching it yet, be sure to tune in because it deserves a lot more eyeballs.
FOR LOSTIES: J.J. Abrams made another show deal at NBC yesterday. The network committed to another scripted hour and it’s an untitled dramedy starring former LOST stars Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn as two ex-black ops agents. I think most LOST fans would watch whatever these two actors did but to see them together in a show is a real treat.
MORE DIVA: Lifetime renewed both ARMY WIVES and the really wonderful DROP DEAD DIVA today. If you haven’t discovered DDD yet, you must see it because Brooke Elliott will charm your socks off; she’s fabulous in the title role.
TODAY’S SURF WRITTEN WHILE LISTENING TO: My Morning Jacket – “Two Halves” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J7ZlozBYLQ
Latenight note: King Abdullah of Jordan is Jon Stewart’s guest on THE DAILY SHOW tonight – 11pm – Comedy Central
ABC: 8:00 p.m. My Generation (series premiere) 9:00 p.m. Grey’s Anatomy (season premiere) 10:00 p.m. Private Practice (season premiere)
MY GENERATION: Shot documentary style and based on a Scandinavian series, a group of former Austin, Texas high school students reunite after 10 years. We learn their backstories in flashbacks via photos, home movies and lots of other visual devices. While the show is creatively shot and edited, the characters aren’t as dimensional as they need to be for this show to succeed. I’m sort of curious to see episode two but I don’t think the navel-gazing quality of the show will diminish with time. Whatever the case, the show has a very tough timeslot so it’s an uphill battle.
CBS: 8:00 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (season premiere, new day and time) 8:30 p.m. $#*! My Dad Says (series premiere) 9:00 p.m. CSI (season premiere) 10:00 p.m. The Mentalist (season premiere)
THE BIG BANG THEORY: The hit comedy migrates to Thursday at 8pm starting tonight. Look for Mayim Bialik in a very good guest role. I don’t want to spoil anything for you but she brings additional funny to the show.
$#*! MY DAD SAYS: Based on the popular Twitter feed by Justin Halpern and his dad, William Shatner stars in this sitcom about an outspoken old man who can no longer take care of himself and the son (Jonathan Sadowski) who moves back home to help.
I saw the first version of the pilot and it started strong and then wilted. The exec producers are David Kohan and Max Mutchnick aka the guys who commandeered WILL AND GRACE; they know their way around a joke and this is a very traditional jokey sitcom. Not that that’s a bad thing.
CSI: Yes, Justin Bieber is guest-starring in tonight’s season opener as, shocker, “a troubled teen.”
NBC: 8:00 p.m. Community (season premiere): guest star Betty White 8:30 p.m. 30 Rock (season premiere, new time) 9:00 p.m. The Office (season premiere) 9:30 p.m. Outsourced (series premiere) 10:00 p.m. The Apprentice
COMMUNITY: Betty White guests in tonight’s season opener as an anthropology teacher the group has this year now that Senor Chang is reduced to being a mere Greendale student. The show returns stronger than ever with more smart pop culture and media references. If you’re not already watching, the characters are sharply drawn and in season one, we learned all their charming eccentricities. This season, we’ll see more of how they screw with each other now that they know each other’s eccentricities. The show will also continue to do masterful genre episodes; the advance word is that the Halloween episode is an instant classic. I talked to Joel McHale the other day about the new season; scroll down to the end of today’s email to read that.
30 ROCK: Liz is still seeing Carol the pilot (Matt Damon) and Jack & Avery (Elizabeth Banks) are still together. Tracy tries to cope with Kenneth’s termination as an NBC page and Jenna has a new role at TGS.
THE OFFICE: Michael Scott hires a new assistant in the season opener. As you know, this is Steve Carrell’s last season on the show and exec producer Paul Lieberstein says his exit has been carefully planned. He won’t give up any more than that for now.
OUTSOURCED: A customer service manager (Ben Rappaport) in Kansas City is sent to India to train his replacement after his department is outsourced. Diedrich Bader (THE DREW CAREY SHOW), Jessica Gower and Rizwan Manji co-star. OK, you’ve heard some stories about this show and maybe you’ve heard some of the less-than-good buzz.
FOX: 8:00 p.m. Bones (season premiere) 9:00 p.m. Fringe (season premiere)
I am totally digging FRINGE’s alternate universe story so I’m jumping on the FRINGE bandwagon full-time. My DVR may overheat but when there’s a will, there’s a way…
THE CW: 8:00 p.m. The Vampire Diaries 9:00 p.m. Nikita
FX: 10pm: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 1030pm: The League
Bravo: 9pm: Real Housewives of DC, 10pm: Watch What Happens Live
Lifetime: 9pm: Project Runway: the designers have to create a high fashion look in a high stakes challenge. 1030pm: On the Road with Austin & Santino
I spoke to Joel McHale the other day about the new season of COMMUNITY. Here’s what he shared with me:
TSR: There are more mind games among the group this season. I liked the season premiere because the gang has learned to manipulate Jeff. Will we see more of that as the season progresses? Is Jeff hellbent on remaining the leader?
JOEL MCHALE: Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and we see some of Jeff’s weaknesses where he lost his power more than he planned on – he says he doesn’t care but he does when it gets in his way. He’s trying to mess with Britta, Britta’s trying to mess with him, Abed is messing with both of them. Is there more of that? I’d say yes. That’s one of his weaknesses – when he doesn’t feel he has the power. Jeff is an alpha male. There’s no organized leader. If he wasn’t, it would bother him. There hasn’t been any script yet – I haven’t seen that many of them – I don’t know where it’s going. With all these characters, they’re peeling back layers of each of them. As insecurities are exposed, they’ll be exploited – ultimately to make that person realize what they’re insecure about.
TSR: Do you enjoy the romance angle? The looks between Jeff & Annie are awfully lovey-dovey.
JOEL MCHALE: In that first episode, things change. I think that’s one reason people come back to watch. You get concerned about the relationships; it compels people to watch the show along with the storyline and jokes. I do enjoy how it went last year. Jeff got around and had to face a lot of stuff he wasn’t expecting. I don’t know where it’s gonna go this year. If the fans like it, great.
TSR: S1 DVD – the commentary – can you tell me a little about the commentary and what you guys thought the fans were looking for?
JOEL MCHALE: We went into the recording session and just talked. I was worried we weren’t talking enough about the episode. It was like a party – it was really fun. It was time with all the castmates; we hadn’t seen each other for awhile. We sat around and shot the shit and it was great to see the episodes again with everyone and especially with Dan and hear the writers’ perspective. There wasn’t any sort of thing like “we’ve got to say this” or “we’ve got to reveal this secret” – we’re just messing around.
TSR: What’s the best thing about playing Jeff?
JOEL MCHALE: It’s fun to play someone who I’m not. Jeff is not the moral center of the show. Sometimes it shifts to him. It’s a moving moral center. He’s a guy I never was. It’s fun to play someone who thinks the way he thinks though I often disagree with the way he operates because he’s selfish. It makes me think, “Am I selfish?” It’s fun to play people who aren’t you. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of doing.
TSR: Rob Corddry is guesting in an episode as one of Jeff’s old law cronies. He said in a recent interview that he really liked working with you cause you’re very smart and funny. What did you think of him?
JOEL MCHALE: Omigosh – he’s not only a really terrific guy and a solid guy, he’s a really good guy you’d talk to whether they were wildly talented or not – which he is. He’s like a joke and comedy magician; he can pull comedy where you don’t think comedy is. It’s just inspring to watch. He’s just this force that comes out. It’s really great to watch. He’s like Rumplestilskin in that he can spin comedy from nothing. I think CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL is terrific too – he’s touched by god. The other person I know who can do that (spin comedy from nothing) is Jim Rash – he plays the dean – whether it’s filling in backstory, he finds a way to make it hilarious.
TSR: The stop motion Christmas special is a go. Will you have them change anything about you in the animation process?
JOEL MCHALE: I haven’t seen it – I have no control over that. Make me 15 years younger and give me more hair.
TSR: Not trying to break up Abed & Troy but will Jeff & Troy have any stories this season?
JOEL MCHALE: We definitely will. We’re shooting one right now.
TSR: The writers write so well for the core cast. Has the cast had more input this season or about the same as last season?
JOEL MCHALE: I would say it’s the same. There’s not a lot of time to get your head above water because you’re working so many hours and working on multiple episodes. I trust Dan Harmon and the writers implicitly. I’m blown away with what they come up with. Every week, the table read is like a boy on Christmas morning. It makes me feel so good about the show. The writing is so good; it’s up to us to illuminate us. Dan listens to everything; he’ll hear someone say something and then a direct quote of that person will be in a script the next week. He’s an observer of human behavior. I’ve done stuff where the writing isn’t good but Dan has such a strong vision and he’s so bloody talented, no one has anything to worry about when it comes to the writing. Abed’s line in the first episode (the season opener), “Because life is not like TV, life is messy” – I thought that was so poignant and apropos. Abed is like Spock – he’s like Data from STAR TREK: TNG – he’s this outsider living among us, he observes our behavior and he makes observations you haven’t seen. It’s not like Dan is in any way socially like Abed – who can’t relate to people. Dan is pretty charismatic. Abed can communicate messages others can’t.
That’s a wrap for now.