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Mixed Notes Thursday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: October 3, 2013

This week's mailbag is here. My recent chat with Eddie McClintock of 'a fish story' and "Warehouse 13" is here.

Tonight brings the return of "Scandal" (yay!) and "Vampire Diaries" and new series ""The Originals," The Millers," "Welcome to the Family" and "Sean Saves the World." If you are in Northeast Ohio watching NBC shows on WKYC, the Browns-Buffalo game pre-empts "Welcome to the Family" and "Sean," but I have posted when you can see it on TV in a previous post. And they will likely be On Demand, online or both at some point. Notes on the new show follow.

"The Millers"  will follow "Big Bang Theory" on CBS as part of a comedy block also included "The Crazy Ones" and "Two and a Half Men" (which just promoted Amber Tamblyn to series regular). It's in the mold of the other comedies on the night, trying to combine likable characters with plots that can veer into the absurd. It also has, to the dismay of many critics, a lot of fart jokes. The show remains unapologetic, and the fart jokes are not really the problem. More at issue is the balance among the characters and actors. Will Arnett plays a man dealing with his fractious parents, Beau Bridges and the awe-inspiring Margo Martindale ("Justified," "The Americans"). And, where Arnett can give me a headache, Bridges and especially Martindale are game-on good. The show will definitely get a couple of more tries from me, but it would be far better off if it sent Arnett on a road trip and focused solely on the other actors.

"Welcome to the Family" involves the parents of an overachieving young man and those of an underachieving young woman who must try to get along in the wake of an unexpected pregnancy. I will dutifully watch a second episode but even with a cast including Mike O'Malley and Mary McCormack, the show didn't leave much of an impression.

"Sean Saves the World" is also problematic. Sean Hayes worked admirably well as part of the "Will & Grace" ensemble and he has tried to assemble a comparable team here with a supporting cast including Linda Lavin (as Hayes's mom),  "Smash's" Megan Hilty as a co-worker and Thomas Lennon as Hayes's boss. In one later episode, there are some big, creepy laughs built around old commercials made by Lavin with her then-young son, but most of the time this is more like dinner-theater farce -- and Hayes acts as if he is far funnier than he actually is. I don't expect to watch more.

"The Originals" is a spin-off of "Vampire Diaries" and is getting the older series as its lead-in tonight before moving to its regular time slot next week. I don't watch "Vampire Diaries" and, having needed a co-worker to explain to me the characters and connections between the two shows, did not bother to watch the new one.

Tonight the DVR is set for "Big Bang," "Scandal," "Crazy Ones," "Elementary," "Two and a Half Men" "X Factor" and "Glee." It's not set for "The Michael J. Fox Show" because of the previously mentioned Browns pre-emption. I will catch up to it somewhere. "Big Bang," by the way, has hired Bill Nye to play himself in an upcoming  episode that is also bringing back Bob Newhart. Newhart, you will recall, won his first Emmy EVER for a "Big Bang" guest appearance.



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