Entertainment

DVR Cleanup: The Top Five Summer Comedies of 2014

Some people say that situational comedies are dead… I say sitcoms are on their way back! In this post we’ll visit a talking dog, a podcast superstar, a blond MILF, a bar gang, and a pill-popping hero. Here is my list of the top five summer comedies of the year…

Jennifer Falls, Season 1 (TV Land)

Finale: “Jennifer’s Song” Airdate: August 13, 2014

You have to give TV Land an A for effort. They continue to redefine their business model by trotting out comedies that cater to their very niche audience. The Jaime Pressly-led project ‘Jennifer Falls’ is the newest edition to their portfolio. There’s nothing truly spectacular about this sitcom, but it is mildly entertaining and an easy watch. Jennifer Doyle (Pressly) has lost her job, money, and prestige, and is forced to move her and her daughter back into her mother’s home.

She works at a Hooter’s-style bar run by her brother and his wife, and gets into all types of situations with her best friend Dina (Missi Pyle). The cast is great (including former Pressly cast-mate Ethan Suplee from ‘My Name Is Earl’), the writing at least makes sense, and if all else fails the story is diverse enough to satisfy a multitude of demographics. I hope this show gets a renewal from TV Land and continues amusing its viewers in the near future.

Maron, season 2 (IFC)

Finale: “Desert Road Trip” Airdate: July 31, 2014

Comedian Marc Maron stars in a 30-minute sitcom that is loosely based on his real life, and if you haven’t seen it, you are really missing out. It is another comedian-based show in the tradition of Larry David (‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’) and Louis C.K. (‘Louie’). All of these shows, including ‘Maron’ are taking a step up from where Jerry Seinfeld left off in the late 90s.

For instance, I liked the honesty ‘Maron’ showed in the finale episode “Desert Road Trip.” The entire episode was about Marc feeling bad that he has finally “made it,” while other comedians were falling on hard times or getting out of the industry altogether. The episode even included a cameo from Ted Lange (Love Boat) who played a down on his luck comedian (Lange has done quite well for himself in real life by the way). Viewers were shown a different side of comedy; the side of comedy that isn’t glamorous or funny… although the episode was. The episode ended with Marc finding a little redemption and getting back a piece of his soul (so to speak) which was a good message wrapped around a decent plot.

Most of the episodes in season two ended up that way. Sometimes I felt like the audience was just a sounding board for Marc’s personality insecurities. Nevertheless, I hope IFC renews the show for a third season just so I can get more of a glimpse into the mind of this slightly disturbed comedian.

Nurse Jackie, Season 6 (Showtime)

Finale: “Flight” Airdate: June 29, 2014

I guess ‘Nurse Jackie’ is a comedy… who knows. It has a 30-minute format and initially there were a lot of comedic situations that made it a no brainer for the comedy category. Lately, there has been nothing funny about the downward spiral Jackie has taken. This woman has gone from bad to utterly disgusting over these six (unreal that it has been that long) seasons. This year, she disrupted her ex-husband’s wedding, destroyed her relationship with her daughters, and stole the identity of a dying nun, all for the glorification of her drug habit.

Can anyone tell me why Eddie continues to advocate for Jackie? She only had an affair with him because he could get her pills, yet he caters to her every whim, whenever she calls on him. What an idiot. After Jackie tried to make a run for it (I assume she was going to try to leave the country) and getting exposed, I don’t see how she can return to work for that hospital. Somehow I think television magic will show up and by the end of season seven, she’ll be patrolling her old stomping grounds.

Sullivan & Son (TBS)

Finale: “You, Me and Gary” Airdate: August 09, 2014

This bar comedy has a special place in my heart. It’s ‘Cheers’ for a new generation, I suppose. The characters are funny, and the plot points are easy to follow as well as entertaining. They aren’t rewriting television history or anything, but they are giving the viewers a reason to return on a weekly basis. The big storyline of the season was the hook up between Steve and Melanie, which was 28 years in the making. The audience always knew that this Sam and Diane-style coupling was going to happen, we just didn’t know when. Now that it has, the show has a foundation for future seasons.

My favorite episode of the season was “Lyle & Son,” which featured guest appearances by ‘Mike & Molly’ star Billy Gardell and the great Frank Caliendo. Gardell played a long-time rival of bar owner Steve Sullivan, while Caliendo sat at a table and entertained us with his many impressions… it was a good show. The sitcom as a whole is good, and entertaining enough to make me want to see many more seasons.

Wilfred, Season 4 (FX)

Finale: “Happiness” Airdate: August 13, 2014

In Memorandum: Wilfred (2011-04). The four year odyssey of the FX comedy ‘Wilfred’ is over. The premise was so ridiculous that I predicted certain cancellation by the end of the first season, but something happened: It was actually funny and entertaining. Wilfred brought to light, the realization that dogs are silly and comically dumb animals. They eat things they shouldn’t, they hump anything that moves (Wilfred carried on a relentless relationship with “Bear”), and they want attention at the most inopportune times. The writers were great at turning the mind of a simple dog into comedic fodder for the viewers.

What a weird final season though. A lot tripping, misleading, and psychotropic situations lead us to what we seemingly already knew:  This show was just about a grown man who carried on an inappropriate relationship with his neighbor’s dog. Nothing more, nothing less.

The only disappointment was Ryan and Jenna not getting together. Every show can’t end with the guy “getting the girl,” but this pairing seemed ripe for the picking. Jenna and Drew were never a good fit, and Jenna seemed to really like Ryan. In the finale, Jenna did the unthinkable, and moved away with her almost ex-husband Drew, after spending the previous few weeks in Ryan’s bed. It leads me to believe that Jenna was just using Ryan because he was so good with Wilfred.

We finally received confirmation that Wilfred has just been a figment of Ryan’s imagination. I always hoped that there would be something deeper, maybe something more meaningful to this story but again… it is what it is. The writers did a good job filling in some of the gaps through the reveal that Ryan’s real dad (a former wackadoo cult leader) is alive and well, and probably the reason why Ryan is the way he is (could get a little of his mental instability from his mother too). Well, Wilfred died but will always be with Ryan, which is the perfect storm for a mentally unstable, yet high-functioning corporate lawyer with a bleeding heart. This show and its characters will be missed.

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Jack Gotta

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