As I may have mentioned before, I watch very few television shows, devoting most of my limited viewing time to movies, so I usually greet the advent of the fall season with indifference at best. This year, however, there were a handful of new shows in which I had at least a passing interest, but while the reasons for this are varied, and not always explicable, I cheerfully credit one of them to the marketing department at NBC. They scheduled the premieres of two of their new Wednesday-night shows, Up All Night and Free Agents, during the Thursday-night blocks when I am customarily taping Parks and Recreation and The Office while we’re at choir practice, so why the hell not try ’em out?
Free Agents places Hank Azaria of Simpsons fame into a When Harry Met Sally scenario where he has to deal with the ramifications of falling into bed with another newly single co-worker; Azaria is always fun, and I enjoyed it, but not enough to add another night to my recording schedule. Not so Up All Night, with Will Arnett as a lawyer who leaves his firm to play “Mr. Mom” while wife Christina Applegate returns to work at an Oprah-like show, hosted by Ava (SNL’s Maya Rudolph). I didn’t like the way the pilot was shot or directed, the parents are—to be blunt—yuppie scum to whom I can’t possibly relate, and the self-absorbed Ava is so thoroughly annoying that I can’t see watching the show again.
An actual addition to NBC’s Thursday-night schedule is the relentlessly (and, in my case, successfully) promoted Whitney, detailing the romantic escapades of the eponymous star, creator, and co-executive producer, Whitney Cummings, and her live-in boyfriend, Alex (Chris D’Elia). It doesn’t hurt that the presumably fictional Whitney is a fairly hot chick who is actually interested in getting it on with her man [insert rimshot about this being a TV show rather than reality]. She has a very appealing vibe and sensibility, and the pilot made me laugh consistently…bringing us to CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, of which Whitney is—perhaps not coincidentally, since I like them both—also a creator and executive producer.
Notwithstanding the title of this post, an irresistible allusion to an obscure Western that I didn’t even like, Kat Dennings has neither joined nor replaced the likes of Angelina Jolie or Nicole Kidman (let alone Rita Hayworth or Grace Kelly) in my personal pantheon of screen goddesses. That said, she made an indelible impression on me in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and remained endearing with her brief role in Thor, so when I heard she was getting her own show, that was all I needed to know. I learned about it too late to see the premiere, and in the old days, that would have killed it for a die-hard like me, but the miracle of the Internet allowed me to see the pilot online, and I taped the second episode.
The premise is similar to that of The Odd Couple, which I regard as the greatest sitcom in history, with Kat (who has a guy’s name, Max, always a plus for BOF) working as both a diner waitress and the nanny for a wealthy space cadet, who named her twins Brangelina. Caroline (Beth Behrs) is a Paris Hilton-type heiress who attended the Wharton Business School, but lost everything when her family’s assets were frozen because of her Madoff-style father’s Ponzi scheme. They become unlikely friends, co-workers, roommates, and potential partners in marketing Max’s awesome cupcakes; so completely has Behrs nailed the whole vacuous-rich-blonde-tart thing that I initially thought she really was La Hilton.
The show is imperfect, e.g., we are asked to believe that among those few items Caroline salvaged is a horse, now living in Max’s postage-stamp-sized yard and, so far, serving as little more than an excuse to get Caroline covered in dung in the second episode. But Kat is her usual appealing self, and watching as little TV as I do, I’m surprised at their sexual frankness: after Max stumbles on Caroline’s soon-to-be-fired predecessor getting nailed in the storeroom, she is asked by a patron, “Where’s my waitress?” and—as an orgasmic moan emerges from the storeroom—replies, “She’s coming.” So score me as 2-for-4 on the new shows, and until further notice I’ll continue watching Whitney and 2 Broke Girls.