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Comedy reigns supreme in new TV season

/ 10:28 PM June 01, 2012

RIGHT after our piece on comedy on TV (“Laughing All the Way to the Bank”) came out last month comes confirmatory word from the States that the NBC network is mightily striving to attract more viewers by unveiling as many as 10 comedy series this season.

Aside from renewing popular shows like “Parenthood,” “Community” and “Whitney,” NBC is launching, with hyped-up hope and fervent prayer, new comedy initiatives like “Go On,” in which Matthew Perry plays a sportscaster who’s in group therapy. The effort to generate laughs from addled adults’ shared misery can be risky, but if it’s effectively tweaked, it can produce a prosperous harvest of “black” humor that could ring similarly “suffering” viewers’ bells.

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Topical show

For his part, “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy has come up with another topical show, “The New Normal,” which is about “a gay couple and the surrogate mother they use to start a family.” This particular comedy series is an instructive emblem of the viewing times, because it shows that bland is out—and “edgy” is in.

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Also trendily topical is “Guys with Kids,” which derives its laughs from the clueless antics of three men who aren’t prepared to be fathers, but have to learn desperately on the job, as it were.

As the US polls are coming up in due time, NBC’s new comedy about a couple in the White House (starring Anne Heche and Dane Cook) is topicality personified.

In other developments, we’re glad to hear that, contrary to some reports, the new musical-drama series, “Smash,” isn’t a first season-last season goner. It will, in fact, resume its storytelling next spring, with its breakthrough star, Katharine McPhee, facing new musical-theater challenges and adventures.

Problems

Other laughfests that NBC is renewing include “30 Rock,” “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” Which just goes to affirm the TV industry’s view that in hard economic times like the present, there’s nothing quite like comedy to help viewers forget their problems and have a good cathartic laugh at everybody’s expense—sometimes, even themselves.

Other signs of the TV times as exemplified by the new season’s other shows on the NBC network, include the unabated popularity of the singing tilt, “The Voice.” Not only has the show been renewed, it has been expanded to three hours, and is outpacing other programs as a viewer magnet, so the shows positioned around it are  benefiting from its popularity, as well.

Other “reality” (nonscripted) programs that are similarly doing well are “The Biggest Loser” and “The Apprentice.” The competitive nature of all three surviving shows indicates that viewers don’t need big stars to induce and seduce them into watching a program, and that even relative unknowns can generate the requisite empathy for a TV show to succeed, as long as they’re really talented—or desperately competitive!

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TAGS: Comedy, Community, Entertainment, Glee, NBC, Parenthood, Television
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