Popdose Fall TV Preview: Thursday

Written by Television, TV Reviews

“Tuning into this show is the TV equivalent of paying someone to climb on your kitchen table and take a dump on your plate during every meal.” –Jeff Giles, reviewing $#*! My Dad Says

It’s almost over! Fall premieres week is winding down and there are only a few more shows to review. Today the Popdose staff looks at the new Thursday shows. What did you think?

My Generation (ABC) – My Generation begins by giving all of their characters stereotypical labels: The brain, the nerd, the jock, the punk. You get the picture. An annoying narrator introduces each character and explains that a documentary crew followed a group of Texas high school seniors in the year 2000. We don’t see much of that original footage except for a group scene in which the naïve 18-year-old high seniors tell the camera what they hope to achieve after high school.

Jump ahead 10 years and the documentary camera crew is revisiting those same seniors. Did life turn out they way they all planned? Hell no. It never does. Terrorist attacks, energy scandals, endless wars and life in general fucks up the works. But people adapt and move on. Some triumph while other regress or die. My Generation had a chance to be unique. It could have been a faux documentary version of, say, Friday Night Lights, showing how people change over the course of ten years.

Instead, there has to be DRAMA!

Two characters have a child that the guy didn’t know about. Two got married after the man’s true love was forced out of his life because of her race. One is pregnant with another’s baby, but he’s fighting in the Middle East, so she’s living with her ex-boyfriend from high school. Somehow, they’re all still interconnected after 10 years and their lives are about to implode. And luckily, a camera crew is going to be on hand to document all of the pivotal… DRAMATIC moments.

My Generation is fine; it’s not a bad show. Despite some very contrived situations, all of the actors are appealing and remain true to their characters. Keir O’Donnell, most recognizable as the asshole villain in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, is excellent as Kenneth, the “nerd,” who wants to have a family but discovers that he’s infertile. Michael Stahl-David (Cloverfield) pulls off with ease the laid back Hawaiian dude who suddenly learns he’s a dad. Although Julian Morris doesn’t have much screen time in the pilot, he give an achingly poignant performance as the rich kid whose true love was forced out of his life because of her race. Of the women, Anne Son was the strongest, as the former “wallflower” who became a single mother right out of high school, and Daniella Alonso is effective as Brenda, a Washington hot shot working her way up the political ladder.

The producers have set in motion many different storylines that are going to require a lot of juggling. Given the track record of most ensemble shows, the writers did a fairly decent job of choosing three characters to be the main focus of the pilot while giving just enough of the others to keep me interested. I don’t know how I would fit this show into my already crowded Thursday (probably watch it online), but I might actually give it another chance. Compared to the lawyer and cop shows that make up this fall’s slate, at least the producers of My Generation were trying something different. — Scott Malchus

$#*! My Dad Says (CBS) If they had stopped at $#*!, CBS would have had a much more descriptive title for this aggressively unfunny alleged sitcom, which takes the rude, blunt, and often profane observations posted at the infamous Twitter account and turns them into bland laugh track sausage.

If you’re smart enough to read, you were probably expecting this show to be awful, so there isn’t much point in going into all the reasons why it deserves to be frog-marched off your television. But it does bear pointing out that $#*! wasn’t entirely without promise. It’s got a perfectly vanilla premise (broke guy has to move in with his cranky father) and a star who’s been funny in the past, both intentionally and not (William Shatner), not to mention plenty of rich source material. None of it matters here — Shatner looks bored, confused, and angry, which is pretty much how I felt for the duration of the pilot.

Again, none of this is surprising; turning a Twitter account into a TV series with an unpronounceable title is a horrible idea, and it was guaranteed to produce a horrible show. But because horrible ideas have a way of turning into DVD box sets, especially where CBS sitcoms are concerned, I’m using this space to plead with you not to watch $#*! My Dad Says. It isn’t funny, it isn’t interesting, and it has nowhere to go. Tuning into this show is the TV equivalent of paying someone to climb on your kitchen table and take a dump on your plate during every meal. Actually, come to think of it, that would actually be funnier. –Jeff Giles

Outsourced (ABC) –It’s kind of funny how I end up reviewing a show with 150 fat jokes (Mike & Molly) and a show with 150 Indian jokes (and a couple of Aussie ones to boot).  And we didn’t get assigned these shows, so I have no one to blame but myself.  I’m pretty sure I chose them because I could relate to both. I’m fat, and my company has been building a database for the past three years that I’ve been very involved in, which we outsourced to Balgalore, India.

Mike & Molly had many clichéd jokes in it, but none were really offensive.  However, Outsourced is not only clichéd, but downright rude.  I’ve experienced many of the things that were displayed in this show: the low talker, the names that you can’t possibly figure out how to pronounce on your own, and the inability to understand what a mistletoe belt is for (okay, maybe I haven’t gotten to that one… yet). But in a real work setting, you wouldn’t possibly start addressing the employee and stumble over their name or comment about their “crazy hats.”

Now I get that this isn’t a “real work setting” and that the character unexpectedly gets shipped to India against his will so he’s out of place.  But if I was in the same boat and I made the same rude and offensive comments to employees, I’d surely be fired on the spot.  Almost every part of the show feels forced, from the better worker speaking in a pure southern accent to the lesser employees acting like a classroom of little kids learning about America for the first time to the chubby dude awkwardly dancing to the Pussycat Dolls (really, that’s a three year old reference at this point). And could it be more unrealistic? During the entire training period, no calls come into the call center at all. But as soon as training is over, the phones light up and then when the low talker is the only one that hasn’t sold an item yet, miraculously there’s only one call so everyone can listen in. Oh, and did anyone happen to notice the ironic name of the soda brand at the end? “PC.”  That subtle moment was the only interesting part of this remarkably bad show.  We’ll set the over/under for episodes before cancellation at three. I’ll take the under. — Dave Steed


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