At least for the time being. While the wonderfully absurd workplace farce took home a bunch of Emmys on Sunday night, it hasn't had any affect on the new batch of comedies starting tonight. Prepare to frown.
As an artform, the sitcom started in the '50s with wacky tales of the nuclear family. Going into the '70s there were some shows about the workplace as well as shows about forever expanding, like The Brady Bunch. By the '90s the family was gone almost entirely and replace by the "band of friends" shenanigans of Friends, Seinfeld and the rest of the Must-See-TV crew. From there, the only place to go was totally crazy, as single camera, laugh-track free shows like Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm. With 30 Rock, another age of sitcom supremacy seemed sure to folllow, where its unique voice combined with an office setting seemed like the perfect formula for our time.
So, what do we get this season? Oh, a bunch of sitcoms about wacky families based on tired concepts that we've already seen a million times. The mind-boggling success of Two and a Half Men must still have the networks fooled into thinking they can create traditional sitcoms out of stale ideas. It's like the programmers all sat around and tried to take an old show and give it a "fresh, modern twist" rather than trying to come up with something original or with a viewpoint of its own. Even the actors, like Patricia Heaton, Kelsey Grammar and Courtney Cox are still basking in their sitcom glory of years past.
Here are are the dreadful Frankencreatures they came up with. (Accidentally on Purpose and Community already started, Cougar Town and Modern Family start tonight, Hank and The Middle start next Wednesday, and Brothers starts Friday).
Accidentally on Purpose (CBS)
The Pitch: Knocked Up with an old chick
Description: Jenna Elfman plays a lady of a certain age who gets pregnant by a young slacker and decides to keep the baby.
How Bad Will It Be: Worse than Dharma and Greg, and that's saying something.
The Pitch: Green Acres meets Perfect Strangers
Description: An NFL player (Michael Strahan) who makes from the city to the country to deal with his crazy family and his competitive brother (Daryll "Chill" Mitchell) who is in a wheelchair.
How Bad Will It Be: It has someone named "Chill" in it.
The Pitch: Head of the Class, but stupid.
Description: A mean lawyer (Joel McHale) gets his degree stripped from him and must return to community college with a bunch of misfits. Oh, and Chevy Chase is in it!
How Bad Will It Be: The most promising of the bunch.
Cougar Town (ABC)
The Pitch: That Girl with an old chick and a kid.
Description: Courtney Cox returns as a woman on the prowl now that she's single. She also has a kid. Oh please, you'd still hit on her after two beers.
How Bad Will It Be: Better than Dirt, which is still pretty bad.
The Pitch: Green Acres meets Frasier minus Niles.
Description: Kelsey Grammar and his bellow are rich and white. Because of the recession, he moves the family from the city to rural Virginia. We fell like it is all a way to get people to join the NRA.
How Bad Will It Be: You couldn't pay us.
The Middle (ABC)
The Pitch: Take out the Malcolm In and just call it The Middle. Add a healthy does of Roseanne.
Description: Patricia Heaton is a mom. She has a family. They are "normal" but wacky at the same time. Just like you!
How Bad Will It Be: Everyone Loves Raymond bad, which means it will be around forever.
Modern Family (ABC)
The Pitch: Three families, one that's "normal" one with an old guy and a hot young wife, and one with two gay dads and a baby.
Description: Three families, one that's "normal" one with an old guy and a hot young wife, and one with two gay dads and a baby.
How Bad Will It Be: Could be tolerable, but we may just be blinded by the prospect of gay dads on TV.