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Monday, May 22, 2017

SEASON IN REVIEW: 2016-17 New Comedies

For the final three days of the season, I will be looking back. Today is a look at the new comedies, tomorrow the new dramas, and then some miscellaneous awards on Wednesday!

Past Years: 2015-16   2014-15   2013-14   2012-13   2011-12   2010-11

American Housewife (ABC)
When American Housewife premiered, I thought it was a lesser version of the ABC comedies I have grown to love like The Middle, Fresh Off the Boat, The Goldbergs, etc. But it really fits right in with all of them and continued to find its groove as the season wore on. The cast really gels well as a family and the show is smart to mainly focus on the family with just auxiliary scenes with the friends. My complaint in the pilot was that it just seemed to be a litany of fat jokes, but it has instead found a heart and sweetness to it while still being a bit brash. In that way, it seems like a true successor to The Middle, its lead-in this past year. And considering how much I still love The Middle, that's definitely a compliment.

RUNNER-UP: The Mick (FOX) - Believe me, I'm still surprised I like this show as much as I do. It's over the top and at times, quite dark and cynical. But it's also uproarious and outrageous. It has none of the sweetness of the ABC family sitcoms and as much as I love the ABC shows, it's a little bit refreshing.

Worth Mentioning: Trial & Error (NBC)/Imaginary Mary (ABC)

Nicholas D'Agosto, Trial & Error (NBC) - Trial & Error had a lot of attention on the many wacky characters that populated its first season, but my favorite character was the straight man among all the eccentrics. As trial lawyer Josh Segal, Nicholas D'Agosto brought a sense of exasperated normalcy to a town and trial that had bizarre situations at every turn. For a show as silly as this one, it needed a grounded center. This is the type of role that people like Andy Griffith and Bob Newhart have filled in their sitcoms. I'm not comparing D'Agosto to those legends. I'm just saying that proves how important it is for the straight man to be strong and D'Agosto certainly was.

RUNNER-UP: Diedrich Bader, American Housewife (ABC) - Diedrich Bader is not my favorite character in American Housewife and in a better year for sitcoms, he may not have gotten this spot. But he is a good foil to Katy Mixon and can have some very funny moments in the nerdy husband/father role.

Worth Mentioning: Adam Pally, Making History (FOX)/Kevin James, Kevin Can Wait (CBS)

Kaitlin Olson, The Mick (FOX) - As I mentioned before, I'm pretty surprised that I watched the whole first season of The Mick. But the main reason I did was because of Kaitlin Olson in the lead role. As Mickey Molng, the aunt who has no business raising children, she is a hoot even as she is crude and outrageous like the show. Olson has great comedic timing and interacts with the kids in a way that no other character in a family sitcom does. Despite her many deficiencies, she somehow is still a character you root for. But most importantly, she is just hilarious.

RUNNER-UP: Katy Mixon, American Housewife (ABC) - I didn't care for Katy Mixon in Mike & Molly, but she is completely delightful in American Housewife. She is brash and funny and the whole center to the show. Her winning performance is a lot of what makes American Housewife a success.

Worth Mentioning: Kristen Bell, The Good Place (NBC)/Jenna Elfman, Imaginary Mary (ABC)

Ted Danson, The Good Place (NBC) - I didn't stick with The Good Place but in the episodes I watched, I absolutely loved Ted Danson. In fact, I found myself wishing his part was bigger than it was. As Michael, he was so goofy and weird, proving again that Danson is one of the most versatile actors around today. He has gone from likable parts on shows like Cheers to a gruff part in Becker to a villain in Damages, and now a completely offbeat character. He continues to make any show he's in better.

RUNNER-UP: John Lithgow, Trial & Error (NBC) - Another veteran actor playing an offbeat character, John Lithgow had some hilarious moments in Trial & Error as the accused Larry Henderson. I really enjoyed Lithgow in this part but I sometimes felt like the writers could have done more with him and he wasn't the best part of his show, like Danson was, which is why he's the runner-up.

Worth Mentioning: Judd Hirsch, Superior Donuts (CBS)/Cedric Yarbrough, Speechless (ABC)

Julia Butters, American Housewife (ABC) - I always enjoy precocious children in family sitcoms, which is why actors like Giselle Eisenberg (Life in Pieces) and Albert Tsai (Trophy Wife) have won supporting actor accolades from me in other years. As youngest daughter, the decidedly quirky Anna-Kat, Julia Butters had some great comedic moments that make her seem well beyond her years. She can make any line funny when given the chance and I only hope the show continues to use her a lot and she can continue to keep that comedic instinct even as she gets older.

RUNNER-UP: Jayma Mays, Trial & Error (NBC) - As prosecutor Carol Anne Keane, Jayma Mays was a great foil for Nicholas D'Agosto in Trial & Error. She was slightly less outrageous than the defense team, but not by much, and she had some really funny moments during the courtroom scenes.

Worth Mentioning: Leighton Meester, Making History (FOX)/Sofia Black-D'Elia, The Mick (FOX)

The Great Indoors (CBS) - This wasn't a year with an embarrassingly bad sitcom like Dr. Ken or Work It or How to Be a Gentleman. All the ones on this list weren't great, but they were passable. There were just a whole lot of "blah" sitcoms this year. Probably the most "blah" was The Great Indoors, which made millennials look like idiots and the previously cool Joel McHale look like a lame dad. It was a waste of McHale's talents and a sitcom that resorted to dumb jokes. Or at least the pilot and second episode did. I didn't watch it beyond that.

RUNNER-UP: Powerless (NBC) - I didn't hate Powerless. In fact, I thought Alan Tudyk and Vanessa Hudgens were not bad. But as I said, this wasn't a year with terrible sitcoms. Just blah ones. And Powerless was a cool premise, but ultimately a blah show.

Worth Mentioning: Man with a Plan (CBS)/Son of Zorn (FOX)

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