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The network comedy isn’t dead (yet).
Fox, premiering Tuesday, Sept. 17
There hasn’t been a successful cop comedy since Barney Miller (Wiki it, kids); recent attempts like Denis Leary’s The Job and Fox’s own The Good Guys went either too dark or too weird to connect (let’s leave Reno 911! out of this). Brooklyn Nine-Nine, from some of the minds behind Parks & Recreation, could be the one to break the cycle, thanks to stars Andy Samberg, Joe Lo Truglio and underestimated comic wildcard Terry Crews. Despite being about police work, the show captures the effortless, single-camera comedy of Tuesday-night compatriots New Girl and The Mindy Project, with more than a little Adult Swim edge (some of the premiere episode’s scenes wouldn’t feel out of place on NTSF:SD:SUV).
NBC, premiering Thursday, Sept. 26
As skeptical as you should be about networks dragging out their old stars and trying to slap together new hits around them—remember the craptastic Paul Reiser Show?—your doubts are unfounded here: The Michael J. Fox Show not only works, it kills. He plays Mike Henry, a beloved New York City news anchor who quit years ago to deal with his Parkinson’s disease (write what ya know). Thing is, he’s tired of being homebound and anxious to return to work—almost as anxious as his wife (Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt) and kids are to get him the hell out of the house. The Michael J. Fox Show isn’t just hugs and fuzzies; there’s a subtle, media-biting edge on par with classic 30 Rock. And, yeah, hugs and fuzzies.
CBS, premiering Monday, Sept. 30
You’ve seen the previews; you’re asking “How the hell can anything with Jerry O’Connell and Tony Shaloub be funny?” Believe it—and check it out quickly, because We Are Men’s days are numbered on CBS. O’Connell, Shaloub, Kal Penn and Chris Smith star as guys at various stages of single-dom, living in a short-term apartment complex and (still) trying to figure out women. Even if it had a laugh track (which it doesn’t), no way does We Are Men fit between How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls; a better, raunchier, less-instantly-canceled version of this show runs on Showtime in an alternate universe.
ABC, premiering Wednesday, Oct. 2
A subdued Rebel Wilson? With an American accent? Before you start screaming “TV sellout!” (you wouldn’t do that … would you?), know that Super Fun Night really works, largely due to Wilson’s (relative) underplaying as Kimmie, a junior attorney whose recent promotion is also moving her up the social ladder—but will she leave her equally geeky best friends (Liza Lapira and Lauren Ash) behind and abandon their standing Friday shut-in “Super Fun Night”? It may seem like an odd pairing with Modern Family, but Super Fun Night shares the same underlying sweetness and bonding. It’s also funny as hell, something the Dunphys don’t always nail.
ABC, premiering Tuesday, Sept. 24
A single party girl (Malin Akerman) falls in love with and marries an older man (Bradley Whitford), much to the dismay/disgust of her best friend (Natalie Morales) and his ex-wife (Marcia Gay Harden). The cast couldn’t be more comedically solid—Akerman in particular has proven herself for years on Childrens Hospital—and Trophy Wife’s writing is as sharp as ABC’s best, but not too out-there, comedies (more Suburgatory, less Happy Endings). Now it just needs to overcome the show title—right, Cougar Town?
Nothing “new” to see here.
ABC, premiering Tuesday, Sept. 24
This looks like a family sitcom from the ’80s frozen in time because it’s set in the ’80s—see how ABC got around that? This postcard from the Reagan era stars Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey, George Segal and other people who should know better—Patton Oswalt provides the Wonder Years narration, no less. Sure, Garlin fires off plenty of priceless one-liners (“I talked to the guy at Sam Goody, he said it was a hip track!”) and there’s no canned laughter, but The Goldbergs is deader than disco (then, not now).
ABC, premiering Wednesday, Sept. 25
Maggie Lawson (Psych) and James Caan (father of that Hawaii Five-0 guy) star in Trouble With the Curve: The Sitcom meets The Bad News Bears: The Next Generation. Terry (Lawson) gave up a softball career to have a kid, disappointing father Terry Sr. (Caan), himself a failed pro baseball player. When she moves back home and the local Little League team of misfits needs a coach, it’s a comedy home run! Sorry about that, as I am about this: Steee-ricke.