NVTV 32: Bad Judge "What is Best in Life", A to Z "F", and The McCarthys "Love McCarthys Style"

Another Thursday, another three episodes. Let's start with the best of the bunch. 

Bad Judge continues to be a flawed but very fun show, as even when the comedy isn't clicking, it's a blast just hanging around with Rebecca, Tedward, and Tom. This week was funnier than last, with an excellent Conan the Barbarian running B-plot and the very skilled Racahel Harris playing Dana, Wright's nemesis of the week. The comedy still wasn't at the peak level the show's shown before, but there was enough there for a lot of good character stuff from both Judges Wright and Hernandez to thrive. 

On the downside, Bad Judge really struggles to use its entire ensemble in a given episode; Ryan Hansen had all of once scene this week, and I didn't realize till watching this episode that this was really the first time Judge Hernandez- a series regular- has had much of a plot line. Walsh is so entertaining at this point that the show can pretty much get away with whatever it wants when she's on screen- and especially when she's excited about something, or dressed up in "full regalia!" or putting whichever cartoon client of the week in their place- that it doesn't have to be much else to be passable, but if it wants to come back for a second season- highly unlikely at this point- it's going to need to figure out how to balance its supporting cast's screen time, make the comedy more consistent, and keep all the strong character stuff we've gotten the last two weeks. Bad Judge is still probably my favorite of the new sitcoms, but it's also still largely unbalanced show with a lot of growing to do, and little time left to do it in. 

A to Z was, as usual, a mess. It's odd that a comedy that's as funny as this one usually is- and for all my bitching, A to Z is usually pretty funny- can be such a disaster. It's got good jokes, good writers, and an excellent cast, it really ought to be good… but, unfortunately, the characters torpedo it week after week. Andrew remains almost entirely devoid of positive character traits, Zelda remains completely inhuman and almost totally without principles, and poor Lenore Crichlow is stuck playing a woman who's only motivation is to find a man- the most tired and dull of all sitcom females, and one that A to Z apparently has no interest in putting even the slightest spin on. The plot, as usual, was problematic- Andrew acts like a jerk, Zelda rewards him for it, nobody seems to notice- though there was a nice moment with a spider at the end of the episode that gave us some idea of what a *good* version of this show might look like. On another positive note, the stuff at Wallflower remains consistently entertaining, and a work-com set entirely within that world would likely have been a better show than the quasi-misogynistic meres A to Z turned out to be. Hong Chau, not for the first time, only gets a minute of screen time and yet gets likely the episode's biggest laugh; failure to recognize which of your character work- or doesn't- is a surefire way to get cancelled, and unlike Bad Judge, A to Z deserves its fate. 

Lastly, The McCarthys was much closer to the show I originally feared it would be for its first ten minutes last night, before turning into a pretty entertaining episode. It has the opposite problem of A to Z- the character writing is excellent, but the jokes are not- and yet is a much, much better show, even with a distracting and obtrusive laugh track and nowhere near the star power. The jokes are simple, but they fit the characters, and they work at that level; sometimes that's all you need. I'll probably never love The McCarthys, as I don't much love the shows its trying to emulate, but as long as the show lets its characters dictate its comedy instead of the other way round, I'll also probably never hate it. If you like multi-cam, live studio type shows, you could do a lot worse the The McCarthys.