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Watching Stuff Monday: A New Show and Some Weekend Catching-Up

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 30, 2013

New tonight is "We Are Men," an ensemble comedy for CBS starring Tony Shalhoub, Jerry O'Connell, Kal Penn and that guy I keep having to look up, Chris Smith. And therein lies part of the show's problem. Within the limitations of the writing, which are significant, Shalhoub still brings the funny; this reminds me of his work in "Galaxy Quest," although that mainly makes me want to rewatch "Galaxy Quest." O'Connell is all right and Penn, mostly wistful in the pilot, has comedy cred.

But Smith? He's an empty hat and, as the centerpiece of the show, a mistake. Already I am wishing the show was entirely about the other guys, and that Smith was sent on his way, Even then, though, this is a silly show -- not so silly that I won't give it a second-chance viewing, but neither sufficiently funny to make me thrilled. Of course, there aren't many thrills in the new commercial-broadcast-TV offerings this fall.

Still, tonight the DVR is also set for "HIMYM. "Bones," "Sleepy Hollow," "Dancing With the Stars" and "The Blacklist" (second-chance viewing). It might also be set for "Mom," but I have a review disc instead. I also have a disc for the second installment of "Hostages," which I may watch -- or may just ignore after the enh premiere.

From last Thursday through Sunday, as I empty out the DVR: "The Good Wife" had a fast-paced, plot-heavy season premiere, and I liked it well enough, although I wish it had just gone straight into Alicia's leaving the firm; the ambivalence is already tiresome. I did like many of the plot turns and, even if I didn't believe it for a moment, the DEA's role in stopping the execution made me laugh. In fact, there was quite a bit of humor laced into the episode, as well as promises of trouble to come. (Peter, Eli -- you don't shove your ethics czar out of the way.)

"The Amazing Race" was a capable enough start to a season; it did not have my complete attention because I was also following the Akron-West Virgiinia soccer game online. (Akron won another nail-biter. These 1-0 games are not fun.) That said, after so many seasons, it was remarkable that by my count three different teams failed to read their clues thoroughly. "Readyourclue" even ended up as a hashtag last night from astonished fans (and from Phil Keoghan himself).But it also means that the show is able to surprise the contestants. And the show makes my Sundays better.

I won't pretend that "Blue Bloods" is a great show, but it is a good one, and Friday's season premiere displayed its key qualities: a loving family in which disagreements still arise, cases that are far from simple, and the idea that the best way to do a job is to it as well as possible. The series works. "Hawaii Five-O," meanwhile, is all about the chase for its characters, and about beautiful scenes of Hawaii for me. Got to think about the next vacation there. ...

Oh, "Glee." It's just this little machine, musical numbers jammed together (currently with a Beatles theme), implausible characters (how many times did Quinn 2.0 shift between Mean Girl and Good Girl?), and plots I don't much care about. The next time it will matter is the Oct. 10  episode, dealing with the death of Finn. But the season premiere was no more than ordinary. (What I would have loved: if, after the number in the diner, the folks from "Funny Girl" decided that Santana should get the part.)

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