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New TV: Big Thursday

By admin Published: September 23, 2010

Tonight includes new-series premieres on CBS ("Bleep* My Dad Says"), NBC ("Outsourced") and ABC ("My Generation") along with season premieres on Fox ("Bones," "Fringe"), NBC ("Community," "30 Rock," "The Office"), CBS ("Big Bang Theory," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "The Mentalist") and ABC ("Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice"). Short take: Stick with your returning favorite.

Notes on "Big Bang," "Bleep," "Bones," "Community," "My Generation" and "Outsourced," all of which I have seen, after the jump. along with a reminder of how much I like "Modern Family."

*I am tired of typing CBS's comic-strip euphemism in the title.

"Big Bang Theory" comes back with a funny two-tiered episode, one part involving Sheldon on a date with his new friend (very amusing Mayim Bialik), which requires Penny's assistance; the other involving things you should not do with a robotic arm. I don't know how this whole Thursday-comedy thing is going to work out with my viewing (although I picked up an hour on the night with "Survivor" moved to Wednesday), but I plan at least to DVR "Big Bang."

"Bleep," a comedy built from a Twitter feed and ensuing book about the things a politically incorrect man says, is another matter. William Shatner is moderately amusing -- and I can handle him in a sitcom far better than I could on "Boston Legal" (and I am trying not to start a rant about those Emmys he collected). But the rest of the show didn't do much for me, and I feel no need to watch again.

Staying with new shows, I have to say I laughed a little at "Outsourced," about a guy who moves to India to run the phone bank for a novelty-item company -- since that's where his job has been sent. But here's my question: Is there any point to a second episode? The first one establishes the characters and that Our Hero will adjust to his changed environment, and the environment wil adjust to him, and I don't see anything more to say.

Compare this to the lovely "Community," another fishes-out-of-water comedy, which also established a lot of nifty narrative threads early on -- and "Outsourced" is found lacking. Which is fine, because it save me a half-hour of Thursday viewing. And tonight's second-season premiere remains a clever little outing as it deals with the fallout from last season's finale. Glad to have it back -- perhaps not as glad as I was to see "Modern Family," which was delightful last night, but glad nonetheless.

Also largely irrelevant is "My Generation," which is sort of like "St. Elmo's Fire" shot by a documentary crew. The premise is that documentarians 10 years ago shot a film about a bunch of high-school seniors, and now the crew is back to see what became of them. So you get mock-doc footage from today intercut with mock-doc footage from 10 years ago, and lots of angst and self-importance. But never did I care enough about any character to want to know more about him or her. It's bland, and dull. And I hated "St. Elmo's Fire."

On the other hand, I have liked and still like "Bones," which tries in a rather crowded hour to tie up the loose ends from last season's finale, which found all the characters scattering. A crisis for one of them brings them back together, with new developments in their lives and some old business -- specifically, what's going to happen with Booth and Brennan? The episode is accordingly titled "The Mastodon in the Room" -- and the show really pushes too hard when we get to a room that really has a mastodon in it. And by the end of the episode, we still don't quite know what will be done about that Booth-Brennan mastodon.

Still, I am so committed to these characters that I hang around just to see what they will do and say. And I was perfectly satisfied with tonight's show.

More on "Grey's," "CSI" and the other NBC comedies after I see them tonight.

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