Very little new to say about Cristela this week. I hate Mark Cuban, so I'm probably biased. Only note much worth making was that it was disappointing to see Cristela's blonde coworker back to a one-dimensional punchline after being treated as an actual character last week.
Short review of Cristela's mostly good Halloween episode, one day late.
Cristela still has an identity crisis, as it can't decide how smart or broad of a show it wants to be, but it was funnier on balance this week than it had been since the pilot, and the supporting cast continues to slowly round out. The stuff at the office is much more consistent on both a comedic and character level than the stuff at home thus far, and the show'd be smart to go back to the well. Cristela herself remains the show's MVP, and as she goes, so goes the show. She has, like Will Ferrell and Bill Murray before her, an ability to get almost any stupid idea over by sheer force of comedic will, and she made a lot of lemonade this week. Even if her show never becomes good, hopefully she keeps getting work.
In other news, Bad Judge and A to Z are both semi-cancelled; both shows will continue producing their thirteen episodes, but neither will get a back nine order, and the odds of either coming back next season are marginal at best. Also, while we're talking cancellations, I may as well cover the death of Manhattan Love Story.
MLS was definitely the season's worst show for the four episodes it got, and yet I'm sadder about its death than A to Z's. MLS never got good, but the fourth episode demonstrated a willingness to try new things, and to move away from the stuff that didn't work. I don't think the show ever would have become great, but it had the potential to become interesting (though it probably wouldn't have done that either). That said, I'm glad it's gone, though if I had my druthers I'd rather watch nine more MLS episodes than eight more A to Zs. Both shows were terrible, but only one seemed to be willing to take chances to fix it.
A to Z was a better show, pound for pound, than MLS, but it was often harder to watch; MLS was bad in a somewhat amusing way, as the writers (initially) had no idea how to build characters or jokes and just fumbled aimlessly with bad comedy karaoke. But A to Z was a case of talented, funny people making an awful show, pummeling its audience with wasted potential and horrible gender politics; fully forty percent of episodes so far end with the lead female dismissing the lead male's apology for stalking her, then kissing him. All women in the show are boy-crazy, insecure spastics, even those who are otherwise calm, lucid, or competent (semi-exception: the very funny deadpan Hong Chau, who never got enough screen time to be much of anything). I'll soldier through the final eight episodes, and hopefully somewhere in there show runner Ben Queen will meet an actual human woman and then attempt to write one… but I'm not looking forward to it.
And then there's Bad Judge. While Black-Ish is probably the most competent show of the new crop, Bad Judge was probably the best, at least for the last two weeks. After an abominable pilot (the worse episode of anything I've had to watch for this that wasn't MLS), Bad Judge rapidly improved, and by the fourth episode it was very, very funny. The fifth episode wasn't a laugh factory, but it had great character work and a home-run punchline in the climax, and I spent most of my review of it looking forward to the show's potential and dreading its cancellation. While Bad Judge is technically not dead- it's ratings are significantly better than A to Z's, and either a ratings surge or a total failure for the rest of the NBC lineup could conceivably lead to a second season- survival is very unlikely. It's not a show that's good enough yet to inspire a Chuck-like fan rescue campaign (though it's cheaper to produce than Chuck and producing comparable ratings), and even if it becomes one it's likely too late. Still, I recommend watching it for as long as it lasts, and along with Selfie it remains one of the only two shows I actually look forward to watching week to week (though Mulaney and Black-Ish aren't terribly far off). Fingers crossed for an improbably rescue, but if dies a predictable death, at least we'll always have that excellent comic highpoint from last episode.
I'll miss Bad Judge, I'm serious. As serious as your mother's cocaine problem.
Cristela was a bit better this week, though it's still got a way to go before it hits the Bad Judge/Selfie "Holy crap that was actually pretty good" tier. The characters beyond the lead are getting some definition- particularly Felix, who'd been entirely one-note to this point. The jokes are still more bad than good, but it's more 60/40 than 80/20, and I can live with that this early in the show's run. Comedy is hard, and if you make me care about the characters I'll give you some time.
Cristela's not quite there yet, but it's close. The title character is very charismatic, and there's nobody actually bad- more than I can say for, say, Mulaney or A to Z. Judging Cristela against its peers is probably the only way to make it look very good, but luckily for Cristela, I've committed to watching its peers, and it's probably the fourth or fifth best of the eight so far. It still has problems, and I'm never going to embrace the laugh track, but it's relatively harmless and has the potential to be something more than that. It'd help a lot if the show realized how much stronger the stuff at the office is than the stuff at the house, but it's likely that those two worlds will overlap more and more as the show goes on anyway.
I'd like to see funnier jokes and less low-hanging pandering to the monkeys in the live studio audience, but for what it wants to do, Cristela's doing a decent job, even if I'd rather it do something else.
After a shockingly strong first week, Cristela this week bore much more of a resemblance to the terribly hackneyed show I was expecting that the sneaky-clever pilot. The office stuff remains mostly strong, if sometimes a little obvious, and the cast is growing on me, yet this episode totally disappointed. Maybe the writing was just softer in general, but I think the bigger problem was that Cristela was no longer in on the joke this time around, and the old sitcoms cliches became just sitcom cliches, instead of winking commentary.
Thumbs down this week, but I'm trying to be optimistic after the abominations of MLS and A to Z, so I'll hold off on throwing Cristela totally under the bus for now.
Welcome to Nick vs. TV. In this first installment, I ramble a bunch about why I'm bothering with this, then preview nine of the new sitcoms I'll be covering this Fall.Read More