TV Review: FOX Tries Four Comedies on Tuesdays with Varied Results

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CHICAGO – Networks have long attempted four consecutive comedies on one night but it’s not a common thing to find on FOX (at least not live-action). So when it was announced that FOX would try to replicate what CBS has on Mondays, ABC has on Wednesdays, and NBC has on Thursdays with their own four-in-a-row on Tuesday nights, TV watchers were curious. Does the new line-up work? Despite having two of the best comedies on TV within it, the answer is, sadly, no.

Breaking In
Breaking In
Photo credit: FOX

First, the schedule. The great-and-underrated “Raising Hope” moves to the front of the night, perhaps the best part of this new line-up as the show has always been a sweet, family-based sitcom that deserves a larger audience. Maybe it will find it to start off the night. The sad thing is that it leads into the worst show on TV, the still-horrendous “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” at 7:30pm CST. Like a sandwich with great bread and rancid meat in the middle, the night picks up significantly with “New Girl” at 8pm CST, a show that started strong and has developed into easily one of the best comedies on television. It’s great. Then the night ends on an unusual note with the return of the nearly-canceled “Breaking In,” now with Megan Mullally. Talk about your peaks and valleys.

The fact is that the first five minutes of tonight’s “New Girl” are funnier than anything in the entirety of tonight’s “Daughter” or “Breaking In” returns. That’s a problem. I can remember the years when “Friends” and “Seinfeld” on Thursday nights went through an array of shows in the middle and I always wished that the night could have been more consistent. Imagine that to an EXTREME. I’d take “Jesse” (one of the failed NBC 7:30 shows) over “Daughter.” Heck, I’d take torture over “Daughter.” And “Breaking In” doesn’t return with an episode that will have anyone convinced that saving this from the cancellation axe was the right move. It’s not an awful series return but it’s certainly not memorable and will pale in comparison after “New Girl.”

New Girl
New Girl
Photo credit: FOX

The new Tuesday night FOX line-up, show by show:

“Raising Hope” TV Rating: 4.0/5.0
TV Rating: 4.0/5.0

In “California Gurl,” a nearly-unrecognizable Katy Perry stars as a prison guard who makes Sabrina’s (Shannon Woodward) life miserable after she gets arrested at an Occupy Natesville protest. Meanwhile, Mary Birdsong (“Reno 911”) guest stars as the Mayor of Natesville, someone who gets on the side of the Chance’s after Virginia (Martha Plimpton) helps her avoid scandal but turns out to be a little too unstable to be considered an ally.

It’s not the best episode of the season (a bit too much Perry), but “Raising Hope” continues to be one of the most underrated shows on TV in every way. Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt are giving two of the funniest performances on TV and the writing keeps getting better, finding the perfect mix of folksy humor and clever societal satire. And it’s all done with the kind of heart you don’t see often in today’s TV. “Hope” has struggled since it premiered. Please watch this show.

“I Hate My Teenage Daughter” TV Rating: 0.0/5.0
TV Rating: 0.0/5.0

Please DON’T watch this show. I loved Jaime Pressly on “My Name is Earl” but she just looks lost here in a show with writers who don’t know how to play to her strengths. She’s better than this junk. And I want the show to get mercifully canceled so she can prove it on another series.

Until then, “Teenage Escuela” features Nikki and Annie going back to school and attending a Spanish class taught by Mark Consuelos. The episode is literally laugh-free. I hadn’t seen “Daughter” since the series premiere, which I also gave a 0.0/5.0, and I half-wondered if the show had improved at all since my lowest grade of the year. Nope. The premiere and this episode are the two worst half-hours of TV I’ve seen on this TV season. Please don’t make me see another.

“New Girl” TV Rating: 4.5/5.0
TV Rating: 4.5/5.0

One of the funniest shows on TV proves why it deserves that title in just the first few minutes of tonight’s episode. Seriously, going from “Daughter” to “New Girl” is like going from “Bucky Larson” to “Bridesmaids.” They can barely be called the same genre. Like it has been lately, tonight’s “New Girl” is another spectacular ensemble episode. The best thing about the show is that it’s strayed away from a star vehicle for Zooey Deschanel, proving that the men are as talented as any supporting ensemble on TV. And the writing just keeps getting better.

Take tonight’s episode, “Injured,” in which the great Jake Johnson gets to step forward as Nick suffers an injury during a game of touch football and basically thinks he broke his spine. Funny, heartfelt, and so smart — “New Girl” gets more impressive every week.

“Breaking In” TV Rating: 2.5/5.0
TV Rating: 2.5/5.0

And then there’s “Breaking In.” In an attempt to improve on a show that really was as close to cancellation as a sitcom has ever been — by some reports it was canceled and then brought back from the dead — the producers of “Breaking In” bring in an all-star to save the day. Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”) joins the cast as the new boss of Cobra, the team of people who prevent corporate theft often by showing them how easy it is to pull off.

The jury is still out on “Breaking In.” Mullally is a fun addition. I like her. I like Bret Harrison. I like Slater. I like Odette Annable. Why don’t I particularly like this show? It comes down to writing. It’s just not that smart here and nowhere near as clever as the show seems to think it is. Pop culture references instead of jokes. Inconsistent characters. There’s just something about “Breaking In” that doesn’t quite work. However, I think it COULD connect. A lot of comedies start off with growing pains. While this is technically the second season of “Breaking In,” it’s definitely still growing.

“Raising Hope,” “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” “New Girl,” and “Breaking In” air on FOX on Tuesday nights. content director Brian Tallerico

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