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Monday, May 23, 2016

SEASON IN REVIEW: 2015-16 New Comedies

To close out the 2015-16 season, here is the first of three days of recaps... first, a look at the new comedies of the year!

Past Years: 2014-15   2013-14   2012-13   2011-12   2010-11

Superstore (NBC) - NBC's comedy department got a pulse again with the arrival of Superstore, a fresh workplace sitcom that has all the ingredients to be a classic in the making. It has great performances, hilarious characters, ample opportunities for funny moments with extras, and even some heartfelt moments. While it is reminiscent of The Office, it has a sweeter edge to it. It didn't hit its mark in every episode of its freshman season but all the tools are there and I have a feeling this could be a show that gets even better in season two.

RUNNER-UP: Grandfathered (FOX) - I enjoyed Grandfathered but I'm also not mourning its demise. I watched the full season and enjoyed it but I could take or leave it. It had a very strong cast and that helped make it more enjoyable than it probably should have been.

Worth Mentioning: Life in Pieces (CBS)/The Grinder (FOX)

John Stamos, Grandfathered (FOX) - John Stamos returned to TV in a role that was tailor made for him. But just because he was playing into his type doesn't mean he didn't do a good job. As Jimmy Martino, he was charming but also self-deprecating. The show and Stamos did a nice job of finding a way to make fun of the "John Stamos type" while still making the character believable and one you found yourself rooting for.

RUNNER-UP: Fred Savage, The Grinder (FOX) - It seemed as though The Grinder was all about Rob Lowe at first but it was Fred Savage in his return to acting who made the show as a very funny straight man with great timing to Lowe's antics.

Worth Mentioning: Ben Feldman, Superstore (NBC)/Rob Lowe, The Grinder (FOX)

America Ferrera, Superstore (NBC) - Often playing the straight woman to the wacky cast of characters around her, America Ferrera returned to TV as the heart of Superstore. Shows with an ensemble like Superstore's only work if there's a stable center of the show and Ferrera as Amy Dubanowski provided that. On top of that, she had funny line delivery and great chemistry with Ben Feldman.

RUNNER-UP: Paget Brewster, Grandfathered (FOX) - Paget Brewster, long known as Prentiss on Criminal Minds, returned to comedy many years after her memorable Friends arc and she was a perfect foil to John Stamos on the show.

Worth Mentioning: Maggie Lawson, Angel From Hell (CBS)/Jenna Fischer, You Me and the Apocalypse (NBC)

Mark McKinney, Superstore (NBC) - As the awkward boss of Cloud 9, Glenn Sturgis, Mark McKinney was often a scene stealer in Superstore. Though he has no idea how to interact with people, he truly strives to be a good boss and encourage others. He's like a more awkward and less socially aware Michael Scott, if that's even possible to imagine. Coupled with his high pitched voice, he is the most memorable of a strong cast of characters in Superstore.

RUNNER-UP: Josh Peck, Grandfathered (FOX) - Josh Peck was another in the strong group of cast members of Grandfathered. Always earnest and well-meaning, he played the wide-eyed and innocent part quite well.

Worth Mentioning: Thomas Sadoski, Life in Pieces (CBS)/William Devane, The Grinder (FOX)

Giselle Eisenberg, Life in Pieces (CBS) - The precocious youngest child is something of a stereotype in family sitcoms but that doesn't mean it can't be done very well and Giselle Eisenberg accomplished that as a wise beyond her years Sophia Hughes. Showing more comedic timing than many of her much older fellow actors, Eisenberg stole every scene she was in with a sarcastic quip here or there. I hope they give her more to do next season.

RUNNER-UP: Nichole Bloom, Superstore (NBC) - As I've mentioned already, Superstore had a fantastic cast of characters. Nichole Bloom played the ditzy pregnant teen very well. I hope they give her character more depth in the future but she had a funny arc this year.

Worth Mentioning: Mary Elizabeth Ellis, The Grinder (FOX)/Lauren Ash, Superstore (NBC)

Dr. Ken (ABC) - The most cringe-worthy new show of the season was Dr. Ken. I admit I didn't watch anything beyond the pilot so maybe it got better but the pilot was just horrible with Ken Jeong horribly overacting and mugging in every single scene. What was an OK premise and decent supporting cast was intolerable because of Jeong. Since it got renewed maybe I'll see if it got any better but it had a long, long way to go from my perspective.

RUNNER-UP: Telenovela (NBC) - I just didn't get this soap opera parody at all. Maybe you have to be a soap fan to appreciate what they were trying to do here but I have the feeling it was just an ill-conceived, poorly acted show.

Worth Mentioning: Truth Be Told (NBC)/Crowded (NBC)

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