Thursday, March 15, 2007

Andy's Dandy; Raines' Pains

Sometimes, TV can be ahead of its time.

When "Andy Richter Controls The Universe" came out a few years ago, it was one of the cleverist, funniest sitcoms on the air.

Nobody watched.

So, it's both with joy and nervousness that I point out the debut of "Andy Barker, P.I." (NBC, 9:30 p.m.), which will be in "30 Rock's" timeslot for the next six weeks. Starring former Conan O'Brien sidekick Andy Richter, it's a tongue-in-cheek send-up of detective shows as the mild-mannered CPA Barker (Richter) gets mistaken for the private detective (Harve Presnell) who used to occupy the same office space and is hired to find a missing Russian.

Tony Hale ("Arrested Development") plays the manager of a video store in the same strip mall who becomes a sidekick.

In the hands of a lesser comic, "Barker" might have fallen flat, but Richter makes his character so darned likeable that you can't help but root for him, especially as he solves a client's IRA issues during a car chase.

The pilot heavily borrows from the classic movie "Chinatown," and is a pretty good homage to it.

Speaking of "Chinatown," the L.A. noir style is revisited in the new drama "Raines" (NBC, 10 p.m.), starring Jeff Goldblum as a detective who talks to dead people. Not necessarily in the "Sixth Sense" way, however. It's more like they're there for him to bounce ideas off.

"Raines" was pretty uneven as a pilot; the title hero is neurotic (the annoying kind of neurosis, not the funny kind) and the plot is fairly predictable. "Raines" will spend two weeks in "ER's" Thursday slot, then move over to the "Las Vegas" timeslot on Fridays.

Both shows - the "Raines" pilot and all six "Barkers" are available on NBC.com, which has gotten slightly better in its presentation of late, though watching online was very choppy, even with high-speed wireless.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: It used to be the other networks would just give up during the weeks of March Madness, but not this year. If you aren't into basketball or not in an NCAA pool (though not for money, because that would be wrong), you have other options besides the NCAA Tournament (CBS, noon through the rest of the evening).

In addition to its new pilots listed above, NBC also has a new "Scrubs" at 9 p.m. Even though they are reruns, the two episodes of "The Office" at 8 p.m. have been re-cut with previously deleted material re-integrated into the show.

Lana Lang and Lex Luthor may or may not get married in tonight's "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.), while "Battlestar Galactica" Cylon babe Tricia Helfer guest stars on tonight's "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.)

Fox is relatively quiet, airing a new installment of surprise hit "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" at 8 p.m., making me very sad for the American public in general.

NBC isn't the only one debuting new pilots; ABC will air "October Road" at 10 p.m. The new drama, written by Scott Rosenberg ("Beautiful Girls"), involves a successful novelist (Bryan Greenberg) who returns home after a decade when he develops writer's block. The trouble is, he trashed his hometown in his novel and he is none-too-popular.

"October Road" has been ripped by the critics thus far, though not by me, what with ABC not including me on its screener's list, so I can't tell you if it's deserving of all its scorn. It also stars Laura Prepon and Tom Berenger. ABC also has new episodes of "Ugly Betty" and "Grey's Anatomy," thus ensuring that "October Road" should get huge ratings.

5 comments:

Phillip Ramati said...

A very reliable informant tells me that Tony Hale of Andy Barker fame has a Macon connection - his dad, Mike, directs the Warner Robins campus for Macon State. So, another reason for area residents to tune in, hopefully.

Zodin2008 said...

I am NOT an Andy Richter fan, AT ALL; I don't get his brand of humor, AT ALL. I didn't watch his Fox show because I don't like him and won't watch this, waiting patiently for the hilarious "30 Rock" to return.

As for "Raines", also no interest and not much in "October Road". So far, the mid season slate has yet to offer me a nugget like I got in 2005 ("Eyes" on ABC) and 2006 ("Love Monkey" on CBS) both, sadly, and unfortunately canceled, but both were terrific, terrific shows.

But yes, with a new "Smallville", a recut "Office", "Scrubs", "Betty" and "Supernatural", I will just have to follow March Madness online!

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, Zod, if you are Buffy fan you claim to be, you may want to check out Thursday's Andy Barker, written by Buffy vet Jane Espenson.

This Girl said...

I liked Andy Richter Controls the Universe. Although Andy Barker, P.I. wasn't hilarious, I got a few good laughs out of it. I love how they developed the characters without distracting from the storyline. I actually can't wait to see Raines (sitting on the DVR as we speak - if only my husband would get off the XBox)

And Zod, for all the things you don't like, you do have a lot of good shows to your account! Good "hearing" from you. Do you ever go back to tvguide.com?

Phillip Ramati said...

Welcome back, thisgirl, long time no post!

I hope you had a chance to catch "Raines" finally. I was lukewarm enough to it where I may or may not revisit it this Thursday. If I do, it's only because the show's creator, Graham Yost, created "Boomtown" (a much better series that was sadly overlooked by the public), so I know he has some game.