As you may have noticed, I watch a fair amount of TV. Not a grotesque amount, at least not by the Midwest standards I was raised on, but I guess it would seem to be a lot by most of the artsy types around here, many of whom don’t even own a TV (and can’t wait to tell you all about it!). But I want you to know, I do it all for you. Here are the funniest TV premieres of 2015 that made me glad I sacrifice so much for you all. And put a smile on my face. Beware, next week it’s the dramas…
Last Man on Earth – One of the only network sitcoms I’ve actually even bothered giving a chance in years, Last Man just works. It’s got a lot of things going for it, like a premise that portends carnage and human extremes, but instead delivers for goofy laughs and unsubtle human drama. But nothing more than its stellar cast, anchored by Will Forte and Kristen Schaal, who are one of the best onscreen couples since Lucy and Desi.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead – My unabashed fanboyism was on full display when I reviewed the premiere of this show a couple months back, but I’m also happy to report that this show has legs. As the first season has progressed, Sam Raimi and Co. have answered a slew of the nagging questions I had, namely how they were going to entertainingly stretch this thing beyond one episode. And the answers are satisfying. The supporting cast has proven fun and talented, and the twists have been good. And of course the gore had been plentiful, which is to say nothing of the brewing battle royal between Bruce Campbell and Lucy Lawless, reunited here for the first time since Xena: Warrior Princess. Crap, my fanboyism is showing again.
Big Time in Hollywood, FL – This Comedy Central product successfully did something that almost no comedy shows are bothering to do anymore; wild plot driven farce. The trend over the last ten years has been gravitating all the best shows in the direction of character driven concepts (Workaholics, Broad City, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and even the more traditional network fare has eschewed zany concepts like the bananas story line of Big Time. If you haven’t seen it or heard of it yet, I don’t want to spoil a thing, but it’s about two moronic brothers who love making movies. And their dad is played by Stephen Tobolowski, who deserves a Nobel Prize for his turn on this show. Yeah, I like it that much.
Master of None – This was one of those shows I kept procrastinating on. I knew it would probably be good, and I had to get around to it eventually. I’m a pretty big fan of Aziz Ansari, it’s just the premise, about a 30 year old struggling with maturity, sounded awful. Check that — self indulgent and awful. Now I’m kicking myself for waiting as long as I did. The show is hilariously well done, and I mean that in the laugh-out-loud variety of hilarious that I honestly don’t usually respond to. I’m more of a smirk quietly type. But as a first generation American (like Ansari and “Dev,” his character on the show) in about the same age group, this comedy had me gasping for breath through laughter. A complete success.
Schitt’s Creek – Most of you probably missed this Canadian production from the creative team of brilliant and beloved comedian Eugene Levy and his son Dan Levy. But if you didn’t, you know about one of the funniest shows of the year. The Levys, along with the great Catherine O’Hara and relative newcomer Annie Murphy, play the Roses, a family of filthy rich stinkers who lose it all in a Ponzi scheme and end up living in the last thing they own; the tiny hamlet of Schitt’s Creek. It was a little shaky getting off the ground, but with the help of newly re-energized co-star, another comedy legend, Chris Elliott, the show found its stride quickly and became one of the best treats of the year.
By Ygal Kaufman