Review: Comedy Hour

Or rather, half an hour, as the new comedies I’m reviewing here are. They will be ordered according to quality (first one is the highest).

My Name is Earl (NBC): The freshest comedy of the new bunch. Starring Jason Lee as a recent karma believer, trying to do good with the rest of his life (with a $100.000 lottery winning backing him up). Following a (long) list he made of all the wrongs he wants to undo, it’s fast paced, with usually one mission per episode. This of course provides a fresh new episode every week, and that makes it a keeper for now.

Everybody Hates Chris (UPN): Superb opening on the somewhat limited UPN network, and the pilot deserved it (including record numbers for the network). Starring Tyler Williams as young Chris Rock, we get to see what his life was about during his high school years. Narrated by Chris Rock himself, the first episode was witty and sometimes sharp. Following episodes were a bit milder though (and a bit more predictable). The setting (usually at home or at school) offers little variation, so the future looks a bit grim. We’ll have to wait and see how they’ll keep the stories interesting and funny.

Kitchen Confidential (Fox): As the title suggests, mostly kitchen stuff. Headed by Bradley Cooper, who has a convincing track record in drama (Alias and Jack & Bobby). Comedy isn’t a feat he can’t handle convincingly either, having proven to be able to play characters convincingly and differently without breaking a sweat. There might be a slight chance the restaurant business might be a limiting factor, but for now, the acting and character development is enough to keep it served warm.

And now it goes downhill. Here we have the typical sit-coms with studio filming and live audience with a laugh track as added bonus.

Freddie (ABC): Geared towards the youngsters, it’s about Freddie (Prinze Jr.) and his friend (Brian Austin Green) living pretty much an easy life (with money pouring in from the shower or something, considering it looks like they don’t work), and being single, the main subject will be hunting women. Not very original, but since it just started, I’ll give it a few more tries.

Out of Practice (CBS): Family oriented sit-com, with divorced parents (Henry Winkler and Stockard Channing) and their 3 grown up children all following in their medical footsteps (we won’t see any hospital scenes or something though). Usually at home or in the restaurant, they miraculously keep meeting each other (even though they all live on their own), all the way up to abnormality. It’s not that original (cliche story lines), and it’s pretty inconsistent (personality changes when the scripts warrants it). Delivering non-funny lines after which a roaring laugh track takes over is pretty annoying too. Stockard Channing’s facelifts make her look like a clown, and since it’s her sole expression, it looks like she’s always laughing at her own jokes (and think of how the “drama” scenes play out with that concrete smile on her face).

The War at Home (Fox): This one, I’d wouldn’t even have greenlit for production, on such a poor pilot script. Using the audience talk technique, it’s another family-based sitcom, that looks like sketches stitched together. Poor unhilarious dialogue (and again, the always present laugh track) makes your toes curl. Really makes me feel sorry for Michael Rapaport (pretty good drama actor, but funny according to a sloppy script he’s not).

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