CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
TV Review: CBS Misses Comedy Mark with ‘The Crazy Ones,’ ‘The Millers’
CHICAGO – There are very few recurring weak points in the CBS lineup. They’ve been dominating total viewers for years with mega-hits like “NCIS” and “The Big Bang Theory.” But there is one thing they haven’t been able to figure out — something to partner with “TBBT.” After failing miserably with shows like “Rob!” and “How to Be a Gentleman,” they gave up and just moved “Two and a Half Men” to Thursday nights. That worked and so now they’re trying to expand the empire by pulling the night’s big hits apart and launching two programs in between. Neither are good and one is horrible. Ah well. Maybe they can move “2 Broke Girls” to Thursdays too.
Photo credit: CBS
Television Rating: 2.5/5.0
The better of the two new CBS programs this evening has also been one of the most reviled in new season previews. Meh. I found it funnier than a lot of other options (see below) but I can see why the emphasis on fart jokes and sexual humor turned some people off. Is “The Millers” smart? Heck no. But the cast is filled with people that I really like, doing the best to lift the weak material to a higher level. It was also created by the underrated Greg Garcia (“My Name is Earl,” “Raising Hope”), who I think could easily guide this show to a better place than where it starts. Then again, I was nice to “Running Wilde” and “Up All Night” too. I guess I just root for Will Arnett. Maybe I’m jinxing him,
The star of “Arrested Development” takes another stab at sitcom stardom as Nathan Miller, a recenty divorced reporter who is just getting back to normal after the heartbreak of his failed marriage when his mother Carol (Margo Martindale) splits with his dad Tom (Beau Bridges). Mom moves in with Nathan and dad moves in with sister Debbie (Jayma Mays) and her hubbie Adam (Nelson Franklin). Cross-generational hilarity ensues.
Well, not really. Jokes about Carol farting or flirting with guys at Nathan’s party with lines about how she can’t get pregnant any more are awkwardly horrendous. And yet I didn’t mind the bad writing here as much as some of this year’s other failed sitcoms because Arnett, Martindale, and Bridges make the show so easily likable. Is it good? Not yet. But the cast could make so. On the other hand…
The Crazy Ones
Photo credit: CBS
“The Crazy Ones”
Television Rating: 1.0/5.0
One of the most advertised programs of the new year is also one of its worst. “The Crazy Ones” is almost unbearable. It took me three separate viewings to get through it. It’s like being trapped in a green room with Robin Williams as he improvises bits for the air. He’s manic, everyone else is half-asleep (especially a horrendous Sarah Michelle Gellar, a typically vibrant actress who looks like a kidnapping victim next to Williams’ insanity), and the whole thing is so poorly conceived and executed as to damage the resume of everyone involved. David E. Kelley has hit big before with shows like “Ally McBeal,” “The Practice” and “Boston Legal” but this is closer to “The Wedding Bells” or the never-seen “Wonder Woman.” It’s a misfire for an undeniable TV talent.
Simon Roberts (Robin Williams) is the head of a powerful ad agency on the ropes. He’s that maverick, who always pushes things to the edge creatively but ends up winning over the client with his brilliant idea. Never mind that this version of Simon is so abrasive that he wouldn’t survive an interview much less run a meeting. He’s always doing that Williams schtick, never more so than in a scene where he’s trying to woo Kelly Clarkson to record a jingle and improvises a “sexy one.” It’s the worst scene of the year. Maybe last year too.
Simon works with his smart daughter Sydney (Gellar). She’s the focused one to his manic energy. They also collaborate with Zach (James Wolk), Andrew (Hamish Linklater), and Lauren (Amanda Setton). But you’ll never mistake this for an ensemble. It should have been called “The Robin Williams Show.” Although no one can blame him for not wanting to put his name on it.