Laughter and forgetting

Alec Baldwin becomes an arrogant boss, Ted Danson embodies a dysfunctional loser of a therapist. But which of these comedies will we remember by springtime?


Heather Havrilesky
August 24, 2006 4:45PM (UTC)

You've heard about the new dramas airing this fall and spring, but what about the brand new comedies? Their stories are split between domestic affairs (weddings, marriage, babies) and the zany adventures of lovable losers (there are certainly going to be a few losers in that bunch) with a handful of notable exceptions. Our favorites? NBC's "30 Rock" (Alec Baldwin is unforgettable as an arrogant boss on a comedy show), CW's "The Game" (lots of fun, bitchy jokes on this one), ABC's hourlong dramedy "Ugly Betty" (who can't get behind a soapy comedy about an ugly duckling?).



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SHOW STARS PREMISE SEE ALSO TYPICAL JOKE WHY WATCH
ABC's
"Knights of Prosperity"
Donal Logue A gaggle of losers decide to rob celebrities in order to find their big dreams. "My Name Is Earl" meets "The Tao of Steve" "You know what is my favorite part of a woman? The vagina!" Not sure
CBS's
"The Class"
Jason Ritter, Andrea Anders A bunch of losers who graduated from third grade together unite. Quirkier, more desperate "Friends" "Aw, she brought her dad." "Husband, her dad's younger." No real reason
Fox's
"Happy Hour"
John Sloan, Lex Medlin, Beth Lacke Loser whose girlfriend dumps him moves in with a stranger who drinks martinis at 4 p.m. every afternoon. Edgy, slightly delinquent, slightly older "Friends" in Chicago "I am efficient, experienced, and an asset to any organization."
"I can see your balls."
Written by husband-wife team behind "That '70s Show."
ABC's "Help Me Help You" Ted Danson, Jere Burns A bunch of dysfunctional losers in group therapy, led by a dysfunctional loser of a therapist A group therapy version of "Significant Others"... with Ted Danson! "I'm confused. We met through J-Date but you're not Jewish."
"No, I just find Jewish guys to be less threatening because I'm not attracted to them."
Lots of harsh therapy jokes; Ted Danson is a natural at the dysfunctional loser thing.
Fox's "The Winner" Rob Corddry, Erinn Hayes, Julie Hagerty, Lenny Clarke Loser with obsessive-compulsive tics lives with his parents, hangs out with kid next door. "Get a Life" but with Rob Corddry instead of Chris Elliott "Irene, this is madness. We can't let this go on anymore. Anne Frank got more fresh air!" To witness Rob Corddry in his first laughter-free environment.
CW's
"The Game"
Tia Mowry, Brittany Daniel, Wendy Raquel Robinson Girlfriends, wives and mothers of professional football players trade quips, share tips. "Girlfriends" meets "Coach" meets "Sex and the City" "Don't you even think about her, because she look like her syphilis got the syphilis." Fun premise, lots of enjoyable bitchiness to savor.
NBC's "Twenty Good Years" Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow Two old friends with clashing personalities move in together, aim to get a little crazy in their golden years. "The Odd Couple" meets "Grumpy Old Men" "You tiptoe through life like it's a field of cow pies!""Yes, and I've avoided all the pies." It's the one show about people over 50; Tambor and Lithgow are great.
ABC's "Ugly Betty" America Ferrera, Vanessa Williams, Eric Mabius An ugly duckling with a heart of gold and no fashion sense gets hired to work for a prominent fashion magazine. Adaptation of a popular Colombian telenovela "Can you believe that assistant? This is 'Mode' not 'Dog Fancy'!" Unusual, campy style, solid lovable-underdog story.
ABC's "Big Day" Marla Sokoloff, Josh Cooke, Wendie Malick A zany, mishap-filled wedding day, spread out over the course of an entire season. "Meet the Parents" meets "24" "You've had it out for Caesar salad since day one. What is so wrong with Caesar salad?" If you're pathologically wedding-obsessed, you might like this, otherwise stay away.
Fox's "Til Death" Brad Garrett, Joely Fisher, Happy young newlyweds move in next door to middle-aged couple married for over two decades, inciting marital crisis. Grim jokes about marriage, marriage, marriage and marriage. "Marriage isn't about fun. Marriage is more about having someone to drive you to the hospital for your operations." Brad Garrett and grim marriage jokes go hand in hand like newlyweds and disillusionment.
ABC's "Notes From the Underbelly" Jennifer Westfeldt, Peter Cambor, Rachel Harris Married couple gets pregnant and immediately starts freaking out about how much their lives are going to change. Grim jokes about babies, babies, babies and babies. "How come once you push out a kid that's all you can talk about?" Housebound, harried new parents might enjoy it.
NBC's "30 Rock" Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin, Rachel Dratch "SNL"-style comedy called "The Girly Show" is flailing, needs shot in the arm from mentally unstable comedy star. Just like "Saturday Night Live" but you don't have to watch the crappy skits. Instead, you get to see how they got to be so crappy! "I ain't doin' it unless I can do it my way. I want it to be raw, HBO-style content." "Well, it's not HBO, it's TV..." Smart, funny script, great premise, and Alec Baldwin is fantastic.

Heather Havrilesky

Heather Havrilesky is a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine, The Awl and Bookforum, and is the author of the memoir "Disaster Preparedness." You can also follow her on Twitter at @hhavrilesky.

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