by Matthew Thompson
I don’t ever have quite as much to say about comedies, so I am rounding up a whole bunch of them for a quick rundown. I stuck to half-hours and excluded any of the ones I hit in my look at the Fall’s new shows a few months back, so that this post wouldn’t get too out of control. Here are my thoughts on eight of this Fall’s comedies in alphabetical order (Be warned: these do contain spoilers for each show’s newest season).
The Big Bang Theory: While this show isn’t worthy of its Emmy nominations by any stretch of the imagination, I have never found it as objectionable as many do. It is just sort of mediocre to me. Having said that, the last couple seasons have been quite poor even by the show’s own middling standards. Surprisingly the most recent episode was one of the series’ best. Sheldon and Amy finally being intimate had the potential to be groan-inducing and the Star Wars plot could have felt like a cheap way to capitalize on the film’s debut, but the former turned out surprisingly sweet while the latter was rather funny. The final juxtaposition of these two events was a highlight of the episode as were Amy’s reactions leading up to and after her and Sheldon’s big moment.
Black-ish: This is having another really good season. The premiere dealing with the n-word was smart, humorous and really well-done. From there it has generally continued to deliver with maybe the odd dud plot here and there. It looks like Deon Cole will be gone which is a bummer. He was always hilarious. My favorite moment of the season was probably when he pulled out a gun from his waist and slapped it on the table in the conference room at work. It seems like Wanda Sykes will replace him in some fashion. She is good too, but I will miss Deon’s Charlie for sure.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: This continues to be a consistently enjoyable comedy. Captain Holt and Gina remain my favorite parts of the show, but I honestly like the whole cast which is kind of a rarity on television. It definitely ended the year on a high note with a fantastic Fall finale that included a great send-up of Die Hard and another appearance by The Vulture. While I don’t think the show has been quite as good as it was in its first season in the years since, I don’t have much to knock it for either. I guess I don’t really feel all that invested in the Jake-Amy romance. I don’t dislike them together, but they aren’t exactly one of those great sitcom couples like a Jim and Pam or something like that.
The Last Man on Earth: I talked about the Season 2 premiere of this a few months back. It was pretty much exactly what I wanted this show to be. The second episode followed suit. Then the rest of the gang joined the fray again and it became something different once more, something that just isn’t my ideal version of this show. Having said that, I do like this take on the show better than the back half of last season. They have made Phil much more tolerable which lets Will Forte’s brilliant comic delivery shine more brightly and the expanded cast has been utilized much better as well. So while this isn’t what I’d hope The Last Man on Earth would be, it is still quite good and I look forward to its return especially to see how Phil’s brother will be integrated in the show.
The League: Such a shame to see this show go out the way it did. In its prime, The League was easily one of the top ten comedies still airing. They really nailed the kind of ball-busting that goes on between male friends even if it was all dialed up to 11. Last year was disappointing, but this year was a borderline disaster. Laughs were hard to find in this final season. Even the now annual Rafi and Randy episode – a cartoon mess that oddly decided to kill off a character – didn’t deliver. This season never felt like a show building towards the finish either. Their last fantasy season came to an unceremonious finish and the show’s final gag was just horrible. I mean I guess it didn’t make me think less of the rest of the series or anything *cough* How I Met Your Mother *cough*… so there is that at least.
Master of None: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. The series critics compared it to in reviews actually left me somewhat confused on what it would be like. But other than some spotty acting, I thought it was pretty great. I like how it tackles a number of different subject matters. Some felt pretty unique. One episode hones in on Dev, played by series creator Aziz Ansari, and one of his friends’ experience as first generation Americans through interactions with their parents. Another looks at Indian actors’ roles in TV and film. Other subjects are more common like relationships, but even there we get clever episodes like “Mornings” which I just loved. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d recommend at least giving it a shot. One of the better comedies this year.
Modern Family: This continues to just coast along. It will occasionally catch my attention. Like with the wacky antics and way everything came together in “Phil’s Sexy, Sexy House.” Or how Phil finally got the ducks to move from Claire to him. And anytime Gloria has a gun is good for a laugh. But generally it doesn’t really garner much of my enthusiasm week to week. I have been disappointed with how they handled the whole Haley-Andy relationship. I let out an audible “Ugh” at the end of last season when they decided to drag this will they-won’t they out even further. Having them sleep together behind the back of Andy’s fiancé Beth felt like poor form. And making Beth a worse cheater to try to justify it didn’t work either. I like the idea of Haley and Andy, so I wish they hadn’t botched this aspect. Didn’t really feel right on this show.
You’re the Worst: Where this season excelled the most was the arc it sent Gretchen on. Aya Cash was already great in Season 1, but she is spectacular this year delivering a stunningly realistic depiction of depression. Despite the somber subject matter, she still manages to inject the kind of biting humor that I love You’re the Worst for – her rant towards her friends in “There Is Not Currently a Problem” comes to mind immediately. Aya delivered one of my absolute favorite performances on television this year. The writers deserve credit too for everything from their slow and unexpected introduction of this storyline, which ended up being a far superior way to go than where I suspected Gretchen’s late-night trips would lead us, to the bold “LCD Soundsystem” episode that had the leads take a back seat for a large portion of the runtime in favor of brand new characters. They even managed to give us one of the sweetest moments for a TV couple this year (the “You stayed”/blanket fort one). I generally didn’t think this season was as funny as the first, but it remains one of television’s best series in large part due to the storyline I have focused on here.
That will do it for this post. I hope that you all have a great Christmas! I plan to start rolling out my best of 2015 lists and stuff like that starting next week, so keep an eye out for them soon. Thanks for reading!