The Leaves Change, and So Do My Scheduled Recordings on the DVR, Part 2

23 Oct

As a continuation of my two-part blog post about all the many shows I watched this fall, here are the final four (oh, I think understand college basketball all of a sudden). This batch includes my favorite and least favorite of all the programs I watched. I know you’re dying of curiosity, so read on!

 Manhattan Love Story (Tuesdays on ABC)

Manhattan Love Story

The premise of Manhattan Love Story is simple – it’s the story of an unlikely pair, Dana and Peter, falling in love in New York City. That’s basically it! There’s not a lot of bells and whistles with this plot, and I appreciate that. Manhattan, as usual, looks incredible and so fun to live in because everyone manages to rent the most luxuriously large apartments in the cutest neighborhoods right in the heart of the city. In reality, I’m guessing that every sitcom television character living in New York would call an adequately sized 18th floor apartment in Brooklyn home (other than Jack Donaghy, obviously), but who wants to see them take 2-3 different subway rides just to get into Manhattan? No one. That’s why it’s called fiction.

Shows like Manhattan Love Story are basically written for people like me – suckers for NYC love stories. I truly believe that love can be found on top of the Empire State Building, if that tells you anything. And yet, there is something missing. And I think I know what that missing piece is – Tom Hanks. Not the actual Tom Hanks, because that could never realistically happen so why dream so big (that’s what I always tell little kids – only dream about things that can realistically happen), but a Tom Hanks-like character. Dana (Analeigh Tipton, who is from Minneapolis and placed third on America’s Next Top Model. WHAT?!? I just threw a fact bomb that exploded in yo face) is clearly the Meg Ryan character, down to the quirky, sweet expressions and the wispy blonde loose curls. But Peter (Jake McDorman, who is from Texas and was on the show Greek, which is exactly what I’d expect) is no Tom Hanks. He is uber-masculine (no offense, Tom Hanks. I think you are very manly in a unique, non-masculine way), and not who I want Dana to be with. When you don’t believe in the couple, it’s hard to care, but I’m guessing that having them be so different is what will make their dynamic and evolving relationship fun to watch. Maybe.

Tom Hanks

 The twist on Manhattan Love Story is that the main characters are constantly narrating their thoughts, which is supposed to enhance the awkwardness when we know their true feelings and insecurities. What I hope they lighten up on, is all the “here’s what a man thinks and does” and “here’s what a woman thinks and does.” It’s so dumb. I mean, I’m not a man, so I’m not sure if it’s a lie that all men are walking around thinking about boobs or if they left porn on the ground of their apartment all day. But I am a woman, and I don’t think about cute bags all the day long. I’m too busy thinking about what I’m going to eat next! And I certainly don’t think a man that tears up at his first sight of the Statue of Liberty “is gay,” as Dana thought in her head. She is America! Every man, woman, and child is supposed to cry at the sight of her! That kind of gender stereotyping nonsense turns me off, and is disappointing. But I believe in Manhattan Love Story and hope that they can grow beyond the Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus bullshit. Or is it the other way around? I wouldn’t know because I’m from Uranus. (Cue my unstoppable laughter).

Follow up: Getting better! Getting better! Peter is already much more likeable, and Dana is growing some balls. Keep up the good work, MLS!

A to Z (Thursdays on NBC)

A to Z

Please see the above post about Manhattan Love Story, and then apply it to A to Z, but replace the ending with “but I immediately liked this one!” Oh, and take out the thing about Tom Hanks, because I don’t think I could handle him on two sitcoms at one time. A to Z stars Ben Feldman as Andrew (the A) and Cristin Milioti as Zelda (the Z). I have been unfairly brainwashed to like Cristin Milioti because she was the dead wife on How I Met Your Mother. (If you don’t know by now that she was dead, I apologize. But you do know. And you’re angry about the ending, just like everyone else is). Because of this mind fuck, I have also been programmed to like any project she did following HIMYM. I don’t know Ben Feldman from bubkas, so I can’t say the same about him, but he is adorable. He is like a modern day Scott Foley. The actual modern day Scott Foley is like an older version of Scott Foley.

Don't get me wrong! He still looks good drinking coffee in a towel!

Don’t get me wrong! He still looks good drinking coffee while wearing a towel in a fancy hotel bathroom!

A to Z feels a lot like the movie 500 Days of Summer. There is a narrator (Katey Sagal, who is surprisingly good at narrating things), and her voice over at the beginning and the end tells the viewers that Andrew and Zelda dated for a brief time, and this was the story of that relationship, just like in the aforementioned movie 500 Days of Summer. I think it’s a fun twist to know that they will break up at some point. What I don’t understand is what will happen once they break up. I think they only date for 8 months or something, which is like, one and a half seasons of a television show. What do they do then?

All in all, I thought the pilot was really sweet, and I liked Andrew and Zelda’s chemistry. It was kind of like how I enjoyed the chemistry between Tracey and Ted on How I Met Your Mother, and then they killed her and he ends up with Robin. (Sorry, again). I think A to Z has the potential to be a total winner for NBC. Until Zelda dies, and Andrew ends up with his high school sweetheart from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Sorry, for the last time, except that I think I just predicted what will happen after 8 months. #SorryNotSorry.

Follow up: I totally forgot to set my DVR to record the series, but it was an innocent mistake. I watched the third episode, and loved it. I fully plan on learning from my errors and moving forward.

Mulaney (Sundays on FOX)

Mulaney

The quick and dirty about Mulaney: A stand-up comedian/comedy writer named John Mulaney (who is also a very talented and funny real-life comedian/comedy writer named John Mulaney) lives with out-there people, and has some out-there friends, and an out-there boss, and hilarity tries to be ensued.

Oh what to say, what to say about Mulaney. How about laugh track? That is something I could say. If I wanted to expand on that, I could say “laugh track unbearable.” In the world of television, I have been spoiled – spoiled by programs that are silent, allowing me to decide when I think things are funny. Sometimes there is laughter coming from the audience, but the sound is fairly spontaneous and comforting. On Mulaney, it is like this (this is not the real dialogue, but practically):

Mulaney Door Scene

Scene: Pot dealer loser friend knocks on door of apartment, door opens (audience: hahahahahahahaha)

Pot dealer: “Helloooo,” said to annoyed inhabitants of said apartment (audience: hahahahahahahaha)

Roommate 1: “What are you doing here, [insert typical loser name, like Louis. No offense to any Louis readers] (audience: hahahahahahahaha)

Pot dealer: “Selling pot, what are you doing?” (audience practically shits its pants and loudly screams: hahahahahahahaha)

For god’s sake, it’s too much. And so distracting. It’s also a tiny bit of a Seinfeld rip-off. The next thing I’m going to say might make you gasp – I was never a fan of Seinfeld. I’m sorry. It’s one of my faults, along with being too pretty and caring too much. But I’ve seen it enough to know that Mulaney is the Seinfeld (down to the stand-up act at the beginning); Nasim Pedrad is Elaine; Seaton Smith is Kramer; and the pot dealer character played by Zack Pearlman is George. That last one is a stretch, but it’s the best I can do. Even the joke delivery is Seinfeld-ish. It’s so cookie cutter that I wasn’t paying full attention to the meat of the jokes, which I think were probably funny.

But there’s not all bad news – I think that John Mulaney is charming, and I think that Nasim Pedrad is hilarious. If this doesn’t work out for her, I hope she gets a few years of being in movies, playing the main character’s sassy, zany, and dependable best friend. Then I hope she gets her own show in the year 2018. By then, she will be ready to lead. My other hopes are that they lose the laugh track, don’t depend on Martin Short’s character to carry the show (did I mention Martin Short is on this show? He is. So is Elliott Gould. I know. I can’t explain any of this), and that they loosen up a bit and talk like people. I want to like Mulaney, and I think others do, too. They just need to stop making it so hard.

Follow-up: Won’t DVR it, but will watch it in the background while folding laundry until season 3, when it will either be really good or cancelled.

Marry Me (Tuesdays on NBC)

marry-me-nbc

You guys, I am definitely saving the best for last. Marry Me is the breathe of fresh air that I have been waiting for all season (so, for like a month). It stars Casey Wilson as Annie, and Ken Marino as Jake. Annie and Jake have been together for 6 years, and on the pilot episode Jake decides to propose. The set-up for the first scene is that they have just arrived home from a vacation where Annie thought she was going to get proposed to, and when they walk into their apartment and it hasn’t yet happened, Annie has a giant melt-down while Jake is knelt down behind her with a ring in his hand. Annie goes on a hilarious 5-minute rant that turns very awkward when she starts insulting Jake’s friends and family who happen to be hiding in the apartment, waiting to yell “surprise.” This is the opening scene of the show, before the credits even roll, and already so much has happened: we learn about the characters and their stories in an interesting way, and I’m already in love with the cast. WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN TO ME?!?

Never. Never is the answer to that question.

Do you all remember when Casey Wilson was on SNL? I did not think she was that funny. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “What a pity that Casey Wilson isn’t that funny.” But then I started watching Happy Endings (don’t even get me started on what I think about Happy Endings being cancelled. It’s INSANE is what I think. Do not even get me started on what I think is insane about it. EVERYTHING), and I thought that Casey Wilson was beyond hilarious. She was just…ah-MAZ-ing.

So, when I heard that David Caspe (the same person who created Happy Endings and is married to Casey Wilson) was creating a new sitcom, starring his wife, I was over the moon. And then I heard that Ken Marino from Party Down was going to play her other half and I plotzed! I kind of set myself up to be very let down with all my moon jumping and plotzing, but Marry Me exceeded my expectations. It was very witty, and the supporting cast was random and good (Tim Meadows plays one of Annie’s gay dads), and it felt very Happy Endings-ish, not in a copycat way, but in a comforting way. More than once I thought about how easy it would be to just re-name all of the Happy Endings characters and have them come back as her high school friends that all decided to move together to a new city. That would be great. And now I have officially set my expectations too high, and can only be let down. Nice one, Alex.

 Follow up: There’s only been one more episode, and it’s calmly marinating on my DVR. I can’t wait.

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