Splitsider’s Winter Comedy Preview: TV
It’s midseason in the TV world, but comedy-wise, the big four networks don’t have as much to offer as in previous years. Cable, however, is another story. This midseason features a slew of comedy premieres from cable networks, including new shows from Nick Kroll, the Childrens Hospital team, Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer, Anthony Jeselnik, and Amy Schumer, plus the returns of Girls, Archer, and Best Week Ever and some promising stand-up specials. Most importantly, though, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are co-hosting the Golden Globes next week, and Community is returning from a nine-month hiatus that’s been excruciating for the show’s legions of devoted fans.
Here’s a detailed rundown of what you can expect from the second half of the 2012-13 TV season:
The 70th Annual Golden Globes – hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
Finally, an awards shore that isn’t a chore to sit through. SNL buddies Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are teaming up to co-host this year’s Golden Globes ceremony, which might end up being the first interesting awards show ever. For years, Fey and Poehler have done funny bits at the Emmys and Globes that are waaaaay funnier than the ceremonies themselves (view a collection of these comedy bits here), and it’ll be fun to see them bring that wit and energy to hosting duties. The Golden Globes letting these two host easily makes up for 30 Rock and Parks and Rec getting snubbed in the Best (Musical or) Comedy Series category this year.
Sunday, January 13th at 8 EST/5 PST on NBC
Josh Gad (Book of Mormon, Daily Show) co-created and stars in this new NBC sitcom about the President of the United States’ dysfunctional family. Gad plays the no-good fuck-up son of the President (Bill Pullman, who proved capable of playing a President in Independence Day) and the First Lady (Jenna Elfman). As you can see by the cast photo, Gad’s character’s out-of-control, fun-loving ways clash with his family’s straight-laced nature, a surefire recipe for 22 minutes of wacky friction every week. Early reviews have been mixed, but with critics agreeing that it improves significantly with each episode. The pilot aired early in a special time-slot last month after The Voice‘s finale, and it’s available on Hulu in case you missed it and want to sample the show before its official premiere.
Thursdays at 9:30 on NBC
It looks like Comedy Central will be doubling up on sketch shows from funny comedians this month, with Nick Kroll’s Kroll Show joining the network’s critically-acclaimed hit Key & Peele and looking like it’s headed for the same success that show has found. Created by Kroll and produced by Portlandia’s Jonathan Krisel, Kroll Show boasts a Murderers’ Row writing staff that also includes Jon Daly and Seth Morris (Comedy Bang Bang), Joe Mande and Megan Amram (Parks and Rec), Karey Dornetto (Community), Jessi Klein (SNL), and Mark Rivers (Mr. Show), and executive producer John Levenstein (Arrested Development). Nick Kroll is the only person in the show’s cast week-to-week, but the pilot features guest spots from Jenny Slate, Ed Helms, Jason Mantzoukas, Adam Pally, Kathryn Hahn, Mitch Hurwitz, amongst others, so it looks like Kroll will be backed up by some of the funniest people around throughout the first season.
Wednesdays at 10:30 on Comedy Central
Australian comedian Jim Jefferies stars in this new FX sitcom, in which he plays an Australian comedian in the US trying to straighten his life out with the help of his best friend Steve (The Daily Show‘s Dan Bakkedahl) and Steve’s wheelchair-bound brother Billy (DJ Qualls). Mindy Sterling and John Ratzenberger have recurring roles as Billy and Steve’s parents. Jefferies co-created the show with Peter O’Fallon, who produced The Riches for FX.
Thursdays at 10:30 on FX
Created by Childrens Hospital producers Rob Corddry, David Wain, and Jonathan Stern, Newsreaders is a spin-off of Childrens Hospital starring Mather Zickel as the host of a TV news magazine show, looking to do for 60 Minutes what Childrens Hospital did for Grey’s Anatomy. Ex-Daily Show producer Jim Margolis serves as showrunner.
Thursdays at midnight on Adult Swim
Nikki & Sara LIVE
Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer, New York-based stand-ups and host of the popular podcast You Had to Be There, have been given their own brand new late night show on MTV. It’s the cable network’s first stab at a late night talk show in a decade. Nikki & Sara LIVE is a half-hour show hosted from Times Square and consisting of celebrity interviews, man-on-the-street bits, and studio segments. Late Night with Conan O’Brien alum Brian McCann serves as head writer, which is just another thing this show has going for it.
Tuesdays at 11 on MTV
The Jeselnik Offensive
Anthony Jeselnik’s performances have been the highlights of the last few Comedy Central roasts, and now the network has given him his own show. The Jeselnik Offensive is a weekly pop culture series that will see Jeselnik and two guest panelists mining humor from the week’s news stories. Jeselnik, a former writer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and accomplished stand-up, is one of the best joke writers going, and this show should serve as an excellent showcase for his abilities.
Tuesdays at 10:30 on Comedy Central
Created by Ryan Quincy, Emmy-winning animation director and producer of South Park, Out There is IFC’s first animated show, following the adventures of a socially awkward kid (voiced by Quincy). Fred Armisen, Megan Mullally, Linda Cardellini, Pamela Adlon, John DiMaggio, Justin Roiland, and Kate Micucci make up the rest of the voice cast.
Fridays at 10:30 on IFC
The Ben Show
Comedian Ben Hoffman stars in this sketch/man-on-the-street hybrid in which he works towards a personal goal in between sketches each week and seeks advice from strangers and loved ones. Hoffman, a writer for Sports Show with Norm Macdonald, notably tricked a bunch of people on Twitter last year into thinking he was attending a high-profile Obama fundraiser at George Clooney’s home.
Thursdays at 10 on Comedy Central
Nathan for You
Produced by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s company Abso Lutely, Nathan for You is a docu-reality series in which Nathan Fielder (Jon Benjamin Has a Van) uses his business degree to try to help small businesses turn things around in unconventional ways. Fielder was one of the funniest parts of Jon Benjamin Has a Van, and it’s nice to see him get front-and-center treatment in a show that sounds pretty crazy and weird.
Thursdays at 10:30 on Comedy Central
How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)
Sarah Chalke returns to TV with this series about a recently-divorced mom who moves back in with her parents (Brad Garrett and Elizabeth Perkins), bringing her daughter with her. Beloved stand-up Jon Dore also stars. ABC holding onto the show until so late in the season isn’t necessarily a bad sign since the network gave April premieres to Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—- the past two seasons and renewed both of them for a second season.
Wednesdays at 9:30 on ABC
Inside Amy Schumer
Stand-up Amy Schumer (Last Comic Standing, Delocated) is the creator and star of this new self-titled series. Inside Amy Schumer will be a string of vignettes, stand-up, and man-on-the-street segments from Schumer. She’s backed by an excellent group of writers on this one with Tig Notaro, Gabe Liedman, Kurt Metzger, Kyle Dunnigan, and head writer Jessi Klein (SNL, Michael & Michael Have Issues) all on staff.
Tuesdays at 10 on Comedy Central
Based on the British series White Van Man, Family Tools stars Kyle Bornheimer (Worst Week) as a guy who takes over his father’s (J.K. Simmons) handyman business after he’s diagnosed with a heart condition. Johnny Pemberton and Leah Remini also star. The show is getting such a late premiere because it’s taking over Suburgatory‘s timeslot after its season finale. ABC cut Family Tools‘ episode order from 13 to 10 last year, but the network insists it was a scheduling decision and not one in response to their satisfaction with the show.
Wednesdays at 8:30 on ABC
Save Me (NBC)
NBC still hasn’t slotted this midseason comedy that stars Anne Heche as a Midwestern housewife who has a religious experience after choking on a sandwich and comes to believe she has a direct line to God. Of all of NBC’s new shows this season, this one seems more in tune with the network’s critically-acclaimed shows like 30 Rock and Parks and Rec and to not be a part of NBC’s push for broader, more mainstream comedies like Go On, Animal Practice, and Guys with Kids. We’ll see if that’s true if NBC ever puts it on the schedule.
The Goodwin Games (Fox)
Fox ordered up 13 episodes of this sitcom from How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas but chopped that order down to 7 episodes when they didn’t have enough space on the schedule. Goodwin Games follows a trio of siblings (Becki Newton, Scott Foley, T.J. Miller) who must complete a series of challenges to receive their father’s 20 million dollar inheritance.
Friend Me (CBS)
CBS’s only midseason comedy this year stars Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Nicholas Braun as a pair of 20something friends who move from the Midwest to LA but disagree on how active they want to be in their social lives. One of the guys posts a flyer seeking friends on the coffee shop bulletin board, which sends the duo into a series of adventures meeting all their weird new potential friends. No word yet on when the series will air, and it’s future may be affected by co-creator Alan Kirschenbaum’s recent tragic death and cast member Tim Robinson departing for SNL.
Lena Dunham’s critically-acclaimed, Judd Apatow-produced HBO series Girls returns for a second season that won’t draw nearly as much criticism from internet trolls as last season did because that’s not possible. The new year sees Hannah’s gay ex-boyfriend (Andrew Rannells) moving in with her, Adam recovering from his accident, and Jessa dealing with the aftermath of her new marriage to Thomas-John (Chris O’Dowd). Donald Glover will be guest starring as Hannah’s republican boyfriend and Rita Wilson as Marnie’s mother, along with Colin Quinn, Shiri Appleby, Rosanna Arquette, Carol Kane, John Cameron Mitchell, Patrick Wilson, and because you demanded it, Jorma Taccone returning as Booth Jonathan.
Sundays at 9 on HBO
Mike White and Laura Dern’s underwatched but critically-acclaimed HBO comedy-drama Enlightened returns for a second season of eight-episodes, airing right after Girls. For those of you who missed the show last season (most of you), Enlightened stars Dern as a woman who gets back from rehab after having a spiritual awakening and decides to try to right the wrongs of the big evil corporation she works for. Mike White (Chuck & Buck, Orange County), who co-created the show with Dern, plays her officemate who becomes her reluctant accomplice, Timm Sharp (Undeclared) is her crude, oblivious boss, and Luke Wilson is her ex-husband who she’s been trying to convince to try rehab himself. It’s an excellent show that’s even better in its second season, and hopefully having Girls as a lead-in should give Enlightened the audience it deserves.
Sundays at 9:30 on HBO
Adam Reed’s animated spy comedy Archer returns for a fourth season later this month. Amongst other things, the new season will feature Timothy Olyphant, borrowed from FX’s Justified, guest starring as Archer’s former best friend, as well as a Bob’s Burgers crossover that will feature Bob and Linda but not the kids. Here’s H. Jon Benjamin talking about the crossover between his two series:
It’s like a Bourne Identity-type plotline. It starts off with Archer as Bob, making hamburgers, but he doesn’t know that he’s Archer. He’s at the restaurant and these, like, I think Russian thugs come in, and Bob dispatches them expertly. And then he’s like, What just happened? How did I do that? So he has to try to figure out why he’s so good at killing people. It is a little weird because you have to be a fan of both to understand it. But you don’t have to know about Bob’s Burgers to enjoy it.
Thursdays at 10 on FX
Best Week Ever
After being canceled by VH1 nearly four years ago, Best Week Ever is being revived by the network, returning to its roots as a show with a panel of comedians discussing the week’s pop culture happenings rather than just one host (we still love you, Paul F. Tompkins!). The new season will feature a brand new cast that includes Ali Wong, Dan St. Germain, Michael Che, Nick Turner, and Pat Dixon, amongst others.
Fridays at 10 on VH1
Easily the most eagerly-awaited midseason premiere by you internet people is the Community‘s fourth season, which was delayed from its original scheduled date of October so that NBC could give it a better timeslot. Community will be back in its old Thursday 8pm home – the Friends slot – for its 13-episode fourth season. Creator/showrunner Dan Harmon was fired at the end of last season, but several key writers from the Harmon regime (Megan Ganz, Andy Bobrow, Tim Saccardo, Steve Basilone and Annie Mebane) stayed on for Season 4 and it seems like it’ll stil be the same show everybody loves. David Guarascio and Moses Port replaced Harmon as showrunner(s) but don’t seem to be toying with the show at all. Chevy Chase’s abrupt departure with two episodes left to film is a bit odd but not surprising given that guy’s loose cannon nature.
So, what’s in store for the new season of Community? There will be well-timed Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas episodes, an episode written by Oscar-winner Jim Rash, a season premiere Hunger Games homage, an Inspector Spacetime convention with guest star Matt Lucas and Trish Helfer, a Halloween episode at Pierce’s mansion, Jeff Winger finally tracking down his father (played by James Brolin and not Bill Murray as Dan Harmon had wanted), and a mysterious guest turn from Jason Alexander. All in all, it looks to be another great season of the show with a lot of fun stuff to keep fans from griping about Harmon’s disappearance.
Thursdays at 8 on NBC
OTHER PREMIERE DATES:
1/8 – Cougar Town – TBS
The Burn with Jeff Ross (Season 2) – Comedy Central
Betty White’s Off Their Rockers (Season 2) – NBC
The Joe Schmo Show (Season 3) – Spike TV
1/13 – Anthony Jeselnik: Caligula (new special) – Comedy Central
House of Lies (Season 2) – Showtime
1/15 – Real Husbands of Hollywood (Season 1) – BET
Second Generation Wayans (Season 1) – BET
1/16 – Workaholics (Season 4) – Comedy Central
1/17 – King of the Nerds (Season 1) – TBS
Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell (Season 2) – FX
Anger Management (Season 2) – FX
1/21 – Belle’s (Season 1) – TV One
1/31 – 30 Rock Series Finale
2/4 – Rules of Engagement (Season 7 Premiere) – CBS
2/5 – Tosh.0 (Season 5 Premiere) – Comedy Central
2/7 – Brand X with Russell Brand (Season 2 Premiere) – FX
2/11 – Inside Comedy (Season 2 Premiere) – Showtime
2/23 – Independent Spirit Awards (hosted by Andy Samberg)
2/24 – Academy Awards (hosted by Seth MacFarlane)
Want more Winter Comedy Preview? Check out our rundown of the season’s new movies.