Tag Archives: One Big Happy

Reviewing My 2014-15 Predictions: NBC

1 Jun

NBC

Well, there’s no point in making predictions if you’re not willing to revisit them later and see just how wrong you were. Now that the final decisions are in, let’s review how I did.

We’ll start with NBC. My fall predictions are here and my spring predictions are here, and in short, every show gets one of three predictions: that it will air 12 episodes or fewer, 13 episodes or more, or be renewed.

The Mysteries of Laura

Prediction: 12-

Reality: Renewed

Sometimes I’m wrong, and sometimes reality is wrong. That’s one of these times. I watched this show and I understand I’m not the arbiter of taste for network television but I still don’t really understand how this became popular. Admittedly, this isn’t quite as shocking as the fact that Undateable will have three seasons under its belt on NBC (which is legitimately incredibly shocking) but I still am surprised this happened.

Bad Judge

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

This prediction game isn’t rocket science. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s easy. Bad Judge was one of the easier calls of the year.

A to Z

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: 12-

A to Z was an okay show that I still think could have succeeded on the right network in the right timeslot, but it’s getting harder and harder for comedies on networks, particularly on NBC, which will be down to a record low number this fall. There just wasn’t enough support or appeal to make this happen.

Marry Me

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: 13+

A series by the creator of Happy Endings starring one of the stars of Happy Endings and my beloved Ken Marino! I may have been too optimistic, about both the success and quality of the show. NBC gave it a shot, but no go. It’s a bad time to be a network sitcom.

Constantine

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 13+

Everything about this series, including when it was airing, led me to believe it was in for a short run. NBC surprisingly gave it a little more support than I anticipated, and it made it to 13 where the lack of ratings finally did it in.

State of Affairs

Prediction: 13+

Reality: 13+

 

Hey, I got something else right. I didn’t see an early cancellation with the amount of stock NBC put into this series, but I didn’t see it as a success either, and for once, I was right.

Spring:

Allegiance:

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

Another easy one. Midseason shows mostly fail, which makes them generally easier to predict than fall shows, though the few breakouts that happen often come out of nowhere. This was so obviously a poor man’s The Americans rip-off that was destined to fail and did.

The Slap

Prediction: No renewal

Reality: No renewal

This was a limited series, so odds are it was never returning unless it was such a huge hit that it forced NBC’s hand to develop some sort of sequel. Still, The Slap, from just the name alone, was destined to fail, despite an impressive amount of star power in the cast.

One Big Happy

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

This show looked terrible, was pretty bad, and as previously discussed, it’s hard out there being a sitcom these days. Not a difficult call, and now that Elisha Cuthbert’s back out of work, along with Marry Me’s Casey Wilson, we’re two actors closer to the Happy Endings reunion.

A.D.: The Bible Continues

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: 12-

People love the Bible, and people loved The Bible, so I suppose I overestimated that love; what counts as a hit for History Channel registers as something less on NBC. I underestimate religious fervor too often that I overestimated it this time in an attempt to compensate.

American Odyssey:

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: 13+

I have absolutely no justification for predicting this as a renewal, other than I was trying to balance out my spring forecast with another renewal or two, in spite of the fact that’s just not how spring works. While I don’t regret this pick too strongly, this is one I’d be most likely to change if I made these predictions again.

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Spring 2015 TV Review: One Big Happy

23 Mar

One Big Happy

I recently talked about the remake of The Odd Couple, which was the latest attempt to make what I call a Sitcom (note the capital S), a comedy designed to consciously double down on and exemplify the fashion of old-style sitcoms which were popular for decades but have diminished in popularity over the last decade or so. These sitcoms share several characteristics, outsized protagonists, a laugh track, big jokes followed by significant pauses and an emphasis on broad comedy. One Big Happy is a newer invention; a show that tries to fuse a more modern ethos about the new ways young-ish people live, the relationships they have, and this diverse world we live in with this very old style of comedy.  One similar analogue that comes to mind offhand is 2 Broke Girls, which is not a coincidence since One Big Happy creator Liz Feldman worked as a writer and producer for that show.

Like with 2 Broke Girls, there’s a shiny facelift of the new plastered on the exterior, but the parts underneath are creaky and old, with the same broken humor (or really lack thereof) that has been pumping up mediocre or worse sitcoms for decades.

One Big Happy wears its premise on its sleeve, laying it out very clearly over the course of the first episode. A single commitment-phobic straight guy and his single lesbian best friend decide that if they are both single after a certain point, which they are, they’ll have a baby together, impregnating her with his sperm. After a couple of failed attempts, the baby takes, but at the same time, the guy out of nowhere falls head over heels for a  British woman who he marries to prevent her from being deported. Thus, this wacky trifecta has to make things work without killing each other and there’s no other choice, because there’s a baby involved.

There’s nothing subtle or clever about the humor in One Big Happy; it’s as broad as it gets. Broad comedy can be funny of course in the right hands but this certainly isn’t that. I took a note while watching that the lesbian character said at one point “I peed on it” to her bestie regarding a pregnancy test and it for some reason got a hysterical laugh; that’s pretty emblematic about everything in this show.

One Big Happy tries to sneak up on people who only know or hear its premise as original, but don’t be fooled. The admittedly novel premise cloaks a pretty bad comedy.

Will I watch it again? No. It was bad, and there’s no reason for anyone to watch it in the unlikely event it survives. Sorry, Elisha Cuthbert and guy who played Pete in Happy Endings. Long live Happy Endings.

Spring 2015 Previews and Predictions: NBC

21 Jan

NBC

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall (edit: spring, now) television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (spring, again)(reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

  1. Renewal – show gets renewed
  2. 13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed
  3. 12- – the show is cancelled before 13

Additional note: Since more and more series on network TV are following cable models with set orders for shorter seasons, and mid-season replacements tend to have shorter seasons in particular, I’ll note any planned limited runs in my prediction section for each show)

Allegiance – 2/5/2015

Allegiance

The first thing I wondered while watching this trailer was whether this show was made due to the success of The Americans, or whether it was made incidentally and someone watched The Americans later, only to realize that The Americans was vastly superior to their show. The protagonist is a super brilliant CIA agent who has some personal problems as a side effect of his brilliance, one of which is that it turns out, unbeknownst to him, that his parents are actually spies for Russia, the very nation who he’s working to dig up intel on day after day at his job. His parents’ superiors want them to turn their son into a Russian spy, while they’re afraid of what their son would do if he ever found out what they are. Uh oh! Family drama mixed with CIA espionage action. There’s no better quick way of describing Allegiance than that it looks like a shitty network version of The Americans that thinks it gets what makes The Americans works, but doesn’t quite. Could I be wrong about Allegiance? Maybe. Is it likely? No.

Prediction: 12- The Americans barely survives on cable television, and it’s great. If this was on CBS, I’d have a more favorable view, because almost any show can survive on CBS, but while this actually seems sensibly placed next to NBC hit The Blacklist, I’ll err on the default guess for all midseason shows, which is failure.

The Slap – 2/12/2015

The Slap

The titular event happens at a family and friends get together consisting primarily of a bunch of hip thirty-something parents. After one incredibly annoying child continues to instigate, an adult, who is not the child’s parent, slaps the child. The singular slap sparks a series of events that turns the previously friendly couples against one another, as everyone reacts differently. Some want to see the slapper punished severely for his actions, while others think his behavior was, if not justified, at least less egregious in the heat of the moment. High drama ensues. The Slap, which is a ridiculous title, and almost makes the show difficult to take seriously by itself, is based on an Australian series of the same name.

Prediction: It’s a limited eight-episode event, which wouldn’t obviously lead itself to a sequel, so it seems likely to be one and done.

One Big Happy – 3/17/2015

One Big Happy

One Big Family, produced by Ellen DeGeneres, is a comedy in the Modern Family mode of unorthodox-yet-functional families. This time, here’s the high concept. Relationship-phobic straight man and lesbian best friend decide to raise a baby together. All of a sudden, he, out of nowhere, meets the perfect woman and gets married on a whim in Vegas. Now, his best friend is pregnant with his child, while he’s now married to someone else. Hijinks ensue, and yet the three, despite constant tricky situations, seem to mostly make the unorthodox arrangement work. I doubt it will be particularly good, and it’s from a writer for 2 Broke Girls, which is definitely not a good sign.

Prediction: 12- Midseason comedies that get picked up are a rare breed indeed. Ellen’s name behind it certainly will help, but it’s just tough to break in in March when no one knows that you’re on.

A.D. – 4/5/15

A.D. A.D.

A.D. is subtitled “The Bible Continues.” That’s right. NBC is quite literally making a sequel to The Bible. To be fair, the bible in question is the History Channel miniseries produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett that produced mega-ratings for the network. A.D. starts with the crucifixion of Jesus, moves through his resurrection, and then on to early church leaders who fight for the survival and eventual triumph of Christianity against the pagan Romans. It’s a religious epic, and I have confidence it will be rapturously received by the Christian masses who watched every episode of the first Bible miniseries. At the same time, I sincerely question its value to just about anyone else. While religion offers plenty of interesting angles for storytelling, everything I know about the original Bible miniseries makes me imagine this will not offer any of those.

Prediction: Another mini-series, so there’s no renewal to be had, though since it has a huge built in audience, I’d imagine it will do well enough to earn another sequel if someone can put together an A.D. II.

Odyssey – 4/5/15

Odyssey

I cannot find a trailer for Odyssey. This may be a testament to my Google skills, or lack thereof, but searching the usual keywords on Google and on YouTube didn’t produce a trailer at the least. Here’s what I gather about the show. A troop of soldiers fighting Islamic extremists in northern Africa stumbles upon some super top secret info that an American company is actually funding the jihadists. Before they can return with this valuable information, all but one of the soldiers is killed by private contractors. There’s a massive conspiracy and it goes pretty far up. The story is, so says NBC.com, told Traffic-like, from many different perspectives, including that of a corporate litigator, a political activist, and a hacker. It sounds rather ambitious, like a cable show, maybe on Showtime, although it’s hard to get a great sense of its scale and production value without a trailer. Maybe less is more, because this sounds far and away like the most promising of the NBC midseason shows.

Prediction: Renewal – honestly, I wouldn’t place money on this, but these midseason shows are so impossible to pick anyway, much more so than fall shows, that I figured I’d have hope that the most interesting-seeming show might be good and succeed, which is probably too much to ask.

A.D.