September 20, 2015

Fall TV Premieres: FOX

Tonight, the Emmy Awards will air on FOX, hosted this year by Andy Samberg. Samberg also happens to star in the FOX show I've selected as my pick for favorite returning show on the network. Here's my take on the comedy coming to FOX this fall:

Returning: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the show that arrived in time to fill the void left in my heart after The Office and Parks and Rec went off the air. It's another hilarious single-camera workplace comedy from writer-producer Michael Schur. (Office fans, you also know Schur as "Mose.")

It's a brighter, more cartoonish workplace comedy than The Office, which, for its first few seasons thrived on jokes about boredom and was set in a room so beige you could practically hear the hum of the overhead lights. By comparison, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is flashy, filled with a cast of stand-up comics and improv masters who light up the screen and lighten the mood individually and collectively. Of course, this isn't to say the show doesn't also have heart. The romantic tension between Andy Samberg's Jake Peralta and Melissa Fumero's Amy Santiago culminated with two "cover" kisses and one actual one in the final moments of last season's finale. Just how that relationship will shake out (or fallout) is yet to be seen. (You may recall that The Office Season 2 also ended with a long-awaited kiss - and a third season which left the tension unresolved.)

The cast of Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Season 3 also promises to bring some personnel changes to the precinct. The departure of Andre Braugher's dry but lovable Captain Holt was the final cliffhanger of the Season 2 finale. Promos have revealed the new boss will be played by none other than Bill HaderSNL alum and all around hilarious guy. Hader is on a roll lately, having hit the big screen this summer with Amy Schumer in Trainwreck. Braugher isn't going anywhere, though; he has his own storylines in premiere promos. So what's currently listed as a "guest star" role for Hader may last only an episode or two. Of course, this hearkens me back to the revolving door of Dunder Mifflin managers following the departure of Steve Carrell on The Office. Some of those who walked in were hits (Hello, Idris Elba!) and some were misses (cough...Will Farrell). I can't imagine Hader's stint at the Nine-Nine - however long it may last - will be anything but a hit. 

By the way, don't mistake these plot connections for unoriginality. Brooklyn is a great show in its own right, and that distinctive feel just proves that Schur, co-creator Daniel Goor, and the writing team know how to set up and tell good stories. What you can be sure of, though, is that if you liked The Office, you'll enjoy Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine returns Sunday, September 27 at 8:30 PM.

New: The Grinder

I'll admit it. This show interested me for one reason: Rob Lowe. I loved him as Sam Seaborne, literally adored him as Chris Treager, and the former Brat Pack heartthrob is back to TV again, this time playing an actor who played a lawyer, who's decided an actual career in law is for him. In addition to Lowe, the show stars Fred Savage. (I'm hoping these big names don't lead to an early flop.) If the trailer is any indication, they won't. Unlike the ABC trailers I blogged about last week, this one doesn't try so hard. Take a look:

The comedy here is clearly not in one-liner jokes, but in the characters, in the acting, and in the overarching setup of the plot. And that setup is an interesting one. It's a spin on a family comedy and a legal comedy and a comedy about the tv business.  (So meta.) The show's success may hinge on the chemistry between the brothers played by Lowe and Savage. If they can manage that, and the writing and directing continues on the path laid out in the trailer, it'll be a hit.

The Grinder premieres Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 8:30.

And with that, I'll say it. NBC has passed the comedy baton to FOX. FOX grabbed Schur, and (until recently) another Office alum in The Mindy Project. With The Grinder, FOX got Parks and Rec's Lowe, for a comedy created by the brains behind that network's successful New Girl. Bottom line: everything NBC was doing right when it came to single camera sitcoms has been nabbed by FOX, including all the right people.

Check out what I'm watching this fall on ABC here and on CBS here.

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