The Great TV Turn-On — NBC

By Mike Bookey

Who watches it: People who want to laugh and people who meant to click on CBS but ended up here somehow.

When we watched it: Sept. 7-20

Hours wasted: 7

Sign of the apocalypse or golden age: A little of both.



Air time: 10 pm, Mondays

Watch if: You’ve ever imagined a world without microwaves.

Revolution is the Hunger Games without the games. The Walking Dead without the zombies. The Book of Eli without the sexy ass of Denzel Washington.

In some darkened conference room at NBC headquarters, some idiot must have said, “I know what will turn this struggling network around! A show about people living in a totally crappy future where everything is covered with weeds for some reason!” That’s what happened here, as far as I can tell. The show is centered on a family that just so happens to play an unknowingly critical role in happenings that unfold once the world’s electricity, batteries, combustion engines and anything else useful ceases to function. Except for guns. Those work somehow. And also, somehow, they’ve all managed to find an ample supply of designer clothing.

Leading the charge is Hunger Games rip-off chick Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), whose dad secretly knows everything about the power outage, but that doesn’t matter because he gets killed by a renegade militia leader (Giancarlo Esposito — Gus from Breaking Bad!).

Charlie goes off with some fat guy and her late-dad’s girlfriend to find her long lost uncle, who, as she says “is good at killing people.” It’s silly as hell, but it could become a hit.

The New Normal


Air time: 9:30 pm, Tuesdays

Watch if: Modern Family wasn’t gay enough for you.

A wealthy gay couple want to adopt a baby. We’ve seen this before, right? Oh yeah, Modern Family, that’s where!

It’s ballsy of Ryan Murphy (creator of Glee and American Horror Story) to take on this premise knowing that ABC’s comedic goldmine is still running strong, but he pulls it off. The New Normal is as edgy a sitcom (we should probably stop using that word) as any network is likely to run, and it’s doubly hilarious because of that.

A frustrated young mother (devastatingly gorgeous Georgia King) leaves her cheating husband and Limbaugh-esque grandmother (scene-stealer Ellen Barkin) in Ohio to make a new life for herself and her daughter (Bebe Wood) in Los Angeles. She ends up volunteering to be the surrogate mother the child of David (Justin Bartha) and Bryan (Andrew Rannells), the aforementioned wealthy gay couple.

Again, the premise is something we’ve seen — kind of — but the show feels nothing but new... and awesome.

Guys With Kids


Air time: 8:30 pm, Wednesdays

Watch if: You hate your kids and don’t want to feel bad about it.

Here’s what we learned from the first episode of this new laugh-track-assisted sitcom: Having a child is perhaps the worst thing you could ever do to yourself. Kids, this program teaches us, are just awful inconveniences impeding the owner of that child from experiencing financial, romantic or recreational satisfaction. People with kids are the absolute worst.

Now, the object of this half-hour pile of pieced together ’90s sitcom clichés and diaper poop, is to point out the downright hilarious situations parents find themselves in through three young-ish and ostensibly “cool” dads. The show, co-created by Jimmy Fallon (whose sense of humor is nowhere to be found here), goes way overboard, however, and makes it appear that these guys are genuinely disappointed that they have a damn kid who is ruining everything.

Oh, and that laugh track isn’t helping because having kids isn’t that funny, people.



Air time: 10 pm, Tuesdays

Watch if: You want to realize that your family is less overwhelming than you thought.

This family drama seemed doomed from the onset. A big high-profile cast, an expensive look, a complicated interweaving story — all the hallmarks of a short-lived series.

Parenthood, however, is now entering its fourth season and even native son/Fox News embarrassment Craig T. Nelson remains on the cast, with almost all of the original members. The storyline of this feel-good program has dabbled heavily in corniness over the years, but has always included enough realistic drama to keep it all believable, and more importantly, watchable. It’s hardly a perfect drama — and if you compare it to others in the genre, it’s light years behind what AMC has to offer — but the saga of the Braverman family remains intriguing and a hidden gem in NBC’s crime-laden hour-long menu.