ABC, Sept. 23, 9 p.m. ET/PT |
The fall's best new sitcom, Modern Family is so light and sure on its feet that it turns old farcical setups about kids, soccer moms and annoying in-laws into groundbreaking TV. It's like finding a big, freshly mown lawn where the only patch of green you expected was a plastic welcome mat. Modern Family brings together an older man and his young, sexy, Colombian bride (Ed O'Neill and Sofia Vergara); a gay couple (Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson) who have adopted a baby from Vietnam; and a nuclear-plus family of three kids whose parents (Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen) look classically suburban but are fundamentally unmoored. Burrell (Back to You) is perhaps the standout in a fine ensemble: Eager to please, too undisciplined to administer discipline, he has the look of a pet afraid it'll be exiled to a shelter.
Bored to Death
HBO, Sept. 20, 9:30 p.m.
Jason Schwartzman plays a Brooklyn writer, Jonathan, who takes up detective work in the lonely hours after his girlfriend leaves him. The show is shaped to accommodate the actor's soft, unconventional sex appeal. He's like Steve Carell braised until all his edginess has melted away. It's a charming performance, but the inconsequence of everything—including the small-time cases and weak allusions to film noir—makes for a perplexing half-hour. As his friend, Zach Galifianakis brings along the zonked bluster that made him so original in The Hangover. He and Schwartzman are better than the material.