TV: The good, the bad and the forgettable
Wed, Jan 5, 2011 (6:45 p.m.)
GIVE IT A SHOT: Bob’s Burgers (Fox, Sundays, 8:30 p.m.) The latest addition to the Fox Sunday-night animated lineup is luckily not a Seth MacFarlane creation—it comes instead from Home Movies co-creator Loren Bouchard. Like that beloved cult show, Bob’s Burgers offers up a skewed, warmhearted take on family, with a weird but recognizable restaurant-owning clan. After one episode, it’s too early to tell if Burgers will end up more like The Simpsons or more like Sit Down, Shut Up, but for now it’s a welcome diversion from MacFarlane’s cynical parade of meaningless pop-culture references, and a charming little show on its own.
WAIT FOR DVD: Episodes (Showtime, Sundays, 9:30 p.m.) I watched all seven episodes of the first season of Episodes in one sitting, and that’s probably the best way to experience this lightweight showbiz satire. Friends co-creator David Crane is a little too stuck in old-fashioned sitcom mode with this story of a British couple (Stephan Mangan and Tamsin Greig) hired to adapt their U.K. show for American TV. Matt LeBlanc’s portrayal of a fictionalized version of himself is inconsistent and too timid in its self-parody, but there are enough funny moments to make the entire season an okay time-waster for one afternoon.
WAIT FOR DVD: Lights Out (FX, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.) A lot of FX’s layered dramas are best appreciated on DVD, where their deliberate pace is more of an asset, and Lights Out seems like it might fall into that category. The story of a former boxing champ struggling to make ends meet has trouble finding its focus in the five episodes available for review, and its characters often conform to boxing-movie clichés. But the plot has the potential to move in some interesting directions, and without having to wait a week for each new episode it might be easier to tolerate the meandering.
DON’T BOTHER: Off the Map (ABC, Wednesdays, 10 p.m.) Off the Map is being touted as Grey’s Anatomy in the jungle, and that’s pretty much what you get: Overheated medical melodrama and soap-opera emoting in an unnamed South American country. The perils of a different kind of medicine offer a few mildly intriguing twists, and the solid cast occasionally elevates the material, but unless you are desperate for more doctor bed-hopping, there’s really nothing to see here.