Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Minimum P.I.

Andy Barker P.I. Thursday 3.15 (NBC) Series Debut: Remember Andy Richter Controls the Universe, a funny-as-hell 2004 Fox sitcom that was unceremoniously canceled for being funny as hell? Or Quintuplets, a lousy-as-hell Fox sitcom that met with the same fate in 2005? Good news: Andy Richter’s latest is neither too funny nor too lousy—and it’s not even on Fox! Andy Barker P.I., starring Richter as a bored strip-mall accountant who stumbles into a more exciting career as a private eye (could have been pitched as “The Rockford Files meets The Office”), plays it safe in comparison to its Thursday-night NBC neighbors, going for endearing over edgy (even Arrested Development’s Tony “Buster” Hale takes it down a notch or 12 here) at a leisurely comic pace. It’s solid, but you won’t lacerate yourself laughing at it, unlike, say …

Raines Thursday 3.15 (NBC) Series Debut: Jeff Goldblum is a Los Angeles detective who sees and converses with dead crime victims (could have been pitched as “The Rockford Files meets Medium”). Once more: Jeff Goldblum is a detective; never mind the corpse hallucinations—that’s comedy! Naturally, his unorthodox ways piss off his Exasperated Captain to no end and keep his Hot Therapist (Madeline Stowe—where’s she been?) intrigued. Goldblum’s Michael Raines is also crazy(er) about ‘40s cop noir, thus giving the show an oldies hue that would make it a passable partner for Monk on cable. Since NBC is moving/dooming Raines to the Friday-night dead zone after its debut, maybe that’s the plan.

October Road Thursday 3.15 (ABC) Series Debut: Big-city writer moves back to his small Northeastern hometown after 10 years away to get back in touch with his roots or some such bullshit … do we really need another one of these? Apparently, yes. Dead parent? Check. Ex-girlfriend who still carries a torch and may have had his son? Ditto. Quirky old friends who haven’t changed a bit? You betcha. Mental laundry basket full of regrets to assuage and loose ends to tie up? Oh, what the fuck do you think?! Welcome to What About Brian’s Garden State.

The Showbiz Show With David Spade Thursday 3.15 (Comedy Central) Season Premiere: There are still some of us who aren’t so over David Spade’s snarkier-than-thou shtick—I know; I can hardly believe it, either. Sure, his sitcom work always comes across like a rabid ferret trapped in a bunny cage (see Just Shoot Me, 8 Simple Rules and the current Rules of Engagement), but Spade is in his element mocking Hollywood, hosting The Showbiz Show with the borderline-hostile disinterest of a guy who’d much rather be at the strip club (The Only TV Column That Matters™ can relate—but maybe they have Wi-Fi there). Now if only there were something ridiculous going on in showbiz right now …

Dancing With the Stars Monday 3.19 (ABC) Season Premiere: I said ridiculous, not sad and ‘tarded.

Rules of Engagement Monday 3.19 (CBS) Season Finale: Didn’t I predict this would die a quick and unnoticed death last month? Mark this—it’s one of those rare occasions where I was (!) wrong. Not that Rules of Engagement doesn’t still suck; it just caught on strangely better than other sitcoms of equal suckatude. It’s all Patrick Warburton—he’s carrying this dead, rotting llama all alone on his hulking shoulders and lush eyebrows (Peter Gallagher of The O.C., you’ve been replaced). The Artist Formerly Known as Puddy kills with the delivery of a single line; my personal favorite (to co-star David Spade): “Aren’t you due back in Paris Hilton’s handbag?” Yeah, I could stand another round of this, CBS.

Casino Royale
James Bond goes all Batman Begins with a dark, gritty prequel that renders almost half of the original 007 flicks flaccid and useless. Daniel Craig is a bad-ass new Bond who takes care of business (even if the plot is slightly simplistic) without the gear and the license to kill—yes, really. SonyPictures.com

The Holiday If you pair one of the worst actresses ever (Cameron Diaz) with one of the best (Kate Winslet), does it balance out? Hard to tell if you’ve already gouged you eyes out, which is the only logical reaction to this craptastic romantic comedy if your I.Q. cracks the 3-digit mark. If not, enjoy. SonyPictures.com

The Pretender 2001/Island of the Haunted While 2001 wrapped The Pretender (one of the great unsung action-dramas of the ‘90s) nicely post-cancellation, Island of the Haunted was a needless mess on par with The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. Still, any Miss Parker is better than no Miss Parker. FoxHome.com

More New DVD Releases (3.13) Bosom Buddies: Season 1, Lovewrecked, Shortbus, TTW: Topless Tapioca Wrestling, Without a Trace: Season 2

The Office
Jonesing for The Office while it’s in reruns? Hey, who isn’t? NBC.com has enough outtakes and Web exclusives to almost piece together an extra season, as well as interviews with the regulars (including Andy and Karen—oh, quit hatin’) and, currently, recent guest director Joss Whedon. The best, however, has to be actress/writer Mindy Kaling (Kelly) stepping out of hyper-annoying mode, if not Jenna Fischer artfully side-stepping the Big Pam/Jim Question.