Some new TV shows, reviewed

Every year, around mid-September, a phenomenon happens. That phenomenon is the new TV season. This is a season where many new shows will have the chance to test their mettle against each other, as well as current favourites, and see if they can make it more than two episodes. If they make it that far, chances are good that they’ll see at least one whole season. And the best from that group will go on to see many more years and the stars will be able to bask in the limelight of being on a popular to semi-popular TV show. Today, I take a look at a handful of the new shows on TV this season.

The War at Home page

Easily my favourite new show of 2005, this is more or less a basic family sitcom. It does, however, take a few interesting turns. For one, the characters will now and then talk to the camera to clarify things, or add a punchline. It’s been seen before (Titus) but it’s certainly not seen often. Secondly, and the part I like most, is that it really pushes the limits of what you can see on sitcoms. The only show that’s ever been more racist, sexist, and just plain off-colour that I can think of is All in the Family. As I said, there’s tons of shock material, including heavy doses of drugs, racism, homophobia, cybersex and even cross-dressing. The characters are great, being your less-than average sitcom family including the slow-witted, short-tempered father (Michael Rapaport), the glue-that-holds-it-together mom (Anita Barone), the teenage daughter (Kaylee Defer), one very odd/effeminate son (Kyle Sullivan) and another sneaky, blackmailing son (Dean Collins). There’ve been three episodes so far, and I’ve really enjoyed watching it. If you’ve not seen it yet, it’s on between the Simpsons and Family Guy on Sunday evenings.

How I Met Your Mother page

This is another good one, though in a different vein than the previous. It takes place (kinda) in like 2031 or something, and is about this guy telling his kids how he met their mom. Obviously. It all starts when the main character, Ted (Josh Radnor), feels like he has to get married when his best friends (Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan) get engaged. It’s basically your average sitcom, and there’s not a lot to make it stand out in the sea of sitcoms, but I like it good. The best part, I feel, is the hilarious antics of Ted’s other friend, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). I probably wouldn’t enjoy the show half as much if this character were not present. Barney is to this show as Joey is to Friends. In the first episode, every time he gets off the phone while arranging a meeting with whomever, he always says “suit up!” and nobody ever does. I hope they keep the gag running. It’s always funny when he gets mad at them for not suiting up. I never watched Doogie Howser, MD, so it doesn’t spoil the character for me as it does for other people (TV Guide and my parents). Oh, and Alyson Hannigan is hot. That’s always a plus. Monday nights. I don’t know when.

Out of Practice page

Not so great. I only watched the first episode, and I wasn’t all too impressed. It’s basically about a family of doctors and their various misadventures. I can’t be bothered to tell you any more, because when the second episode came on, I opted to go play video games instead of watching. I mean, it wasn’t a bad show. Not at all. It was funny and all, but I just couldn’t get into any of the characters, and it just doesn’t stand out as something that I really want to watch every week. Check it out if you feel like it, don’t let my apathy discourage you. You might like it. Mondays after How I Met Your Mother and Two and A Half Men.

American Dad page

Yes, it technically started last season, but it was only on a limited trial run of seven of the 20 episodes they’d produced for the first season. So it’s this season that it really gets into full swing. While it may be overshadowed by its universally loved big brother, Family Guy, American Dad is an excellent cartoon. I’ll admit it, I wasn’t immediately taken with it, but after a few episodes it finally grew on me and now it’s another reason I can’t wait for Sunday night to come ’round. The show is centered on CIA agent and father Stan Smith, who is constantly trying to better his family skills and keep his country safe from communists and terrorists. Other characters include his wife Francine, son Steve, daughter Hayley, goldfish Klaus and alien Roger. All the characters offer up a lot of great material, whether they’re funny themselves, or set up other characters for funny. And of course, you can draw a lot of parallels between this and Family Guy. My only complaint is that Klaus is a great character, but is severely limited by the whole “being a goldfish” thing. Oh well, it’s still way more entertaining than the Simpsons has been for the last couple years. If you need me to tell you, it’s on Sundays right after Family Guy.

And that’s about it. Expecting more? To tell the truth, I really don’t watch much TV, and those are the only shows of the billions of new ones out there that I’ve watched. It’s not like there were gonna be tons of these tiny little TV show reviews. It’s a mini-review after all. Besides, everything else I watch has been on for more than a season now. If you really need to see what other good things have started this month, check somewhere else on the internet.

The Good Stuff:
  • Alyson Hannigan is hot
  • Now I have something to watch on Mondays
  • The War at Home is way better than Malcom in the Middle
  • Another cartoon on Sunday!
  • The Bad Stuff:
  • Out of Practice is really hit-or-miss
  • American Dad is underrated because people expect another Family Guy
  • The War at Home gets old kinda quick
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