Wednesday Night TV – Friends and Family:

I am a huge fan of JJ Abrams, going back to Felicity. I was a huge ALIAS fan. I think LOST is the best show of all time. I even loved TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS and REGARDING HENRY, features he wrote, that hit movie screens in 1990 and 1991 respectively.

I am looking forward to seeing UNDERCOVERS which he directed. I love the casting and the show looks a little lighter than his recent Spy drama. Many say that it’s too light, but I look forward to checking it out. It’s the first TV pilot he directed since LOST.

As you can probably tell, I’m not a huge procedural fan but THE DEFENDERS looks like fun. I have a feeling I’d enjoy this more than HAWAII 5-0, so I look forward to sampling that as well.

I have seen the pilot of THE WHOLE TRUTH. Again, not a procedural fan. This show is a legal drama and attempts to tell both sides – prosecution and defense – of a case with an added twist of revealing what really happened at the end. Since it’s not a genre I love, I had low expectations. I liked it more than I thought I would. Rob Morrow plays a cocksure New York defense attorney quite well and he has ample charisma. In the original pilot Joely Richardson played the defense attorney and in the new version Maura Tierney, in her return to TV, assumes the role. It’s great to see her back on TV and she and Rob have good chemistry. I think I wish they were starring together in a more character centric show. It’s not a bad show, it’s just another case driven show. I admire the fact that they’re trying something new. I just wonder if this very procedural type show will work for ABC, as they don’t usually.

From 8-10p ABC has their wonderful Family comedy block anchored the Emmy Winning ray of sunshine, MODERN FAMILY. I’d love to see the show hit new ratings heights this year as well as the entire block. I haven’t seen the premiere episode but I have seen the other 3 comedies airing tonight:

THE MIDDLE – Doris Roberts guest stars as Brick’s new teacher and of course she butts heads with Patricia Heaton’s, Frankie, and if it gets more people to sample this show, great. But this under the radar show doesn’t need any help creatively. The ensemble works beautifully and it feels like a real middle class, hard-working, average family from the midwest. I believe it’s the only depiction currently of a family in “the middle” anywhere on TV . It’s funny, heartfelt and real. Not a weak link in this family.

COUGAR TOWN – one of the most funny, silly and comfortable ensembles on TV. Jennifer Aniston guests and if it brings more eyeballs to the show – yay! She’s pretty funny too. But in actuality, they don’t need her. This ensemble rocks and the best parts of this episode focus on them. Don’t let the title fool you. This is a family show – a group of people who have created their own silly, loveable, sweet and hysterically funny, dysfunctional, but loving family. Not a weak link in the cast. You’ll laugh but you’ll smile the whole time just being with these guys for a half hour. To illustrate how the show evolved from its original conceit to its current form, check out this terrific article done by Joe Adalian of with the showrunner and co-creator Bill Lawrence.

At 8:30 ABC premieres BETTER WITH YOU. There is an old school quality to this show, but it’s written and acted really well by some sitcoms veterans including Debra Jo Rupp, Kurt Fuller, and Joanna Garcia returning to multi-camera comedy for the first time since her breakthrough on REBA.  Like Martha Plimpton of RAISING HOPE, if this show finally makes her a star, it’s a win. But it’s Jake Lacy who plays her fiancée that steals the show and actually made me laugh out loud.  It’s also directed by sitcom royalty James Burrows  and created by FRIENDS alum Shana Goldberg-Meehan so the creatives behind the camera ain’t too shabby either. Overall, it made me laugh, I liked the cast and you kind of get the feeling they like each other and you could see it getting even better. It’s a nice fit in ABC’s wonderful comedy block and fits in nicely between THE MIDDLE and MODERN FAMILY. Outside of the fact that it’s a multi cam in a block of single cam shows, it’s a good fit. But if it’s funny, it won’t matter. I saw it once by myself and then last week with an audience at The Paley Center.  The audience didn’t love it immediately. I think its “old schoolness” took a little getting used to for them. There were tempered laughs at first.  But midway through, when the entire cast was on-screen together for the dinner scene, people were laughing and with Jake Lacy – they were laughing loudly. When the show ended, there was a hearty applause and I get the sense people would want to revisit this family especially since they like some of their sitcom neighbors. It’s a nice bridge between THE MIDDLE and MODERN FAMILY and helps make this sitcom block one of the most enjoyable on TV. Basically its friends and family from 8-10 on ABC and I personally enjoy their company.

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