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Leaves bring laughs: the best new comedies of the fall

By Corey Risinger

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Andy Samberg's Jake Peralta and his team break through the barriers of traditional crime shows without caution.
Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta and his team break through the barriers of traditional crime shows without caution.

To all of you who grieved the permanent loss of Andy Samberg on SNL, it’s time to wipe away the metaphorical tears and get back to watching TV. This fall, Fox has fulfilled the dreams of Samberg fans everywhere, giving him a full-length show and a shiny NYPD badge to go with it. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” already receiving great reviews from critics, definitely does not disappoint.

Though watching the season’s trailer had me a little skeptical of whether I could tolerate Samberg’s humor for more than an SNL video-clip, watching the first episode of the show showed me just how incredibly wrong I really was. The show revolves around the lives and police pursuits of Detective Jake Peralta (Samberg) in relation to a full-cast of personalities, who in their own ways, seem to mellow out Samberg’s intensity. Already in the first episodes, Peralta placed a bet with his partner, the beautiful Detective Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), about who can make the most arrests, showing the great potential for romantic tension, or embarrassment. Realistically, either would be entertaining with Peralta’s erratic behavior and sarcastic tone.

He may have had full-rein with his last police chief, but his robot impersonations and lack of pants and ties challenge new Police Capt. Ray Holt (Andre Braugher) to whip him into shape. The show even offers the office relationships characteristic of shows like “Parks and Recreation,” or well, “The Office.” Between an adorably clumsy Detective Charles Boyle, his dream girl, the rough and tumble Detective Rosa Diaz, and the first openly gay police captain in NY, there is never a dull moment. As Peralta introduces himself, “Hi, I’m detective always-right, and this is my partner, detective bad-detective,” it’s easy to see this show is right, too.


The Michael J. Fox Show

Michael J. Fox as dad and anchorman "Mike Henry" enjoys a moment afloat in the ball pit.
Michael J. Fox as dad and anchorman “Mike Henry” enjoys a moment afloat in the ball pit.

For the “Breaking Bad” fans out there, the series had to end eventually. But luckily, NBC has the perfect thing to tide you over: “The Michael J. Fox Show,” starring Michael J. Fox and Betsy Brandt, Marie Schrader from “Breaking Bad.” Even from the season’s trailer, the series is sure to be a hit. Fox as father, temporarily retired news anchor Mike Henry, and Parkinson’s patient, lights up the screen with his humor and optimism. Henry, who took a leave from the newsroom following a hysterical rolling chair incident, decides to give it another shot, leaving his stint as stay-at-home dad. From accidental 911 calls, apologizing for his drugs not kicking in yet, to driving his family insane with way, way too much attention, Fox is the perfect amount of scatter-brain and genuineness.

Despite Fox’s incredible on-screen presence, though, his wife, Annie (Brandt) may steal the show. Already, her private confessions to the camera are hilarious, resembling the kind of episode composition of shows like “Modern Family.” Probably the defining moment for her character is over a family dinner, when watching Henry dole out the food, she grabs the serving spoon out of his shaking hands. “Can you not have a personal victory right now!? We are starving.”



Anna Faris and Allison Janney star opposite each other in "Mom," illustrating hilarious parallels between generations.
Anna Faris and Allison Janney star opposite each other in “Mom,” illustrating hilarious parallels between generations.

A new Chuck Lorre production, “Mom” combines the star power of Allison Janney with the absolute sparkle of Ana Faris. Christy, who seems to be Faris’ most wonderful, single-mom alter-ego, really owns the show. Janney, Christy’s mother Bonnie, is trying to make amends with her daughter after an incredibly dysfunctional relationship, a kind of “metamorphosis” that Lorre explains he’d been waiting to experiment with in a TV show.

From the opening scenes, it’s clear that Christy’s life needs some work. Having just sobered up, Christy announces to an Alcoholics Anonymous crowd that while “some mothers teach you to bake[, her] mother taught [her] how to beat a cavity search and still feel like a lady!” But unbelievably, both Christy and Bonnie are ridiculously likable characters, both trying to fix a family life that must have been horribly and hysterically shattered long ago.

Meanwhile, the sometimes neurotic and always snarky Christy finds a job as a waitress at a restaurant, considers having a romantic relationship with her boss Gabriel (Nathan Corddry), and attempts to calm herself while raising a rebel teenage daughter and her elementary-aged son.

So while the main mother-daughter relationship in “Mom” is definitely between Christy and Bonnie, that between Christy and daughter Violet is just as entertaining. This becomes pretty clear when Christy’s self-help audio tape is interrupted by the sight of Violet pushing a shirtless teenage boy out of her window, and the self-help style scream: “my daughter’s an easy lay and it’s not my fault!” errupts.

“Mom” offers the many dimensions of family interaction, and though we may not always agree with Christy’s parenting and we’ll probably never agree with Bonnie’s maternal instincts, Faris’ Christy is too quirky and determined to ignore.


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