You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Returning Emmy comedy contenders

Young stalwarts vie with old standbys for nomination

THE BIG BANG THEORY
CBS
Strengths: A perfect cast that capitalizes on its inner nerd. Writing is as sharp as that of any comedy around.
Weaknesses: Johnny Galecki has a bit of second-fiddle status with Jim Parsons’ emergence, and it would be nice to see them back on even terrain.
Best days ahead or behind: A sweet season finale, in which Penny hinted at her affection for Leonard, means a romance wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
— Stuart Levine

CALIFORNICATION
Showtime
Strengths: In a textbook case of art imitating life, news reports at the start of season two revealed that David Duchovny was a sex addict — similar to his L.A. novelist protag Hank Moody — thus raising the bar on the skein’s authenticity.
Weakness: The life of a lothario who constantly mends fences with his teen daughter and longtime female partner can get repetitive. Best days ahead or behind: The series is built around Hank’s efforts to woo back his longtime ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, Karen, only to fall short. In season three, it will be interesting to see how Hank contends with her absence now that she’s residing in New York City.
— Anthony D’Alessandro

CHUCK
NBC
Strengths: In its second season, the show found a consistent groove of pure entertainment, melding fun capers with underrated acting and emotional elements.
Weaknesses: As a dramedy, “Chuck” may not satisfy those who need more obvious laughs.
Best days ahead or behind: Series will face a challenge operating on a more limited budget, but the creative team has developed an assured hand, with plenty more plot opportunities to conquer.
— Jon Weisman

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
ABC
Strengths: None of the four original housewives has quit. Creator Marc Cherry left viewers wondering who’s under the veil. Eva Longoria’s brilliance.
Weaknesses: Sadly, Edie, the tramp with a heart of gold, was killed off. Fortunately, she bequeathed her zingers to Gaby and Mrs. McCloskey.
Best days ahead or behind: Cherry’s penchant for time travel makes this one a toughie, but given the success of 2008-09’s “five years forward” season, ABC should feel comfortable giving him the controls to H.G. Wells’ Time Machine.
— Michael Maloney

ENTOURAGE
HBO
Strengths: The portrayal of Hollywood’s ecosystem, its overprivileged movie star and his posse has matured each season, making Vince’s over-the-top, no-consequence lifestyle increasingly more captivating.
Weaknesses: A steady flow of “inside” jokes and Hollywood jabs can be challenging for industry outsiders.
Best days ahead or behind: A new chapter — Martin Scorsese is coming to town with Vince’s latest film, “Gatsby” — has promise.
— Addie Morfoot

FAMILY GUY
Fox
Strengths: Writers can turn anything — even Nazi Germany — into joke fodder, plus iconic characters like Stewie and a pitch-perfect voice cast and cameos.
Weaknesses: Uneven episodes range from high-concept genius to overly random and uninspired.
Best days ahead or behind: Ahead. When Seth MacFarlane’s crew is in top form, the show is memorably brilliant.
— Sandie Angulo Chen

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS
HBO
Strengths: When it sings, it sings. Several of the show’s tunes and comedic twists could not possibly be more clever.
Weaknesses: Even most diehard viewers wish the show could be more consistent.
Best days ahead or behind: The second season, while successful, underscored the challenge “Flight” had in living up to its highly praised rookie campaign, and the creative team may call it quits.
— Jon Weisman

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Fox
Strengths: Character-based comedy writing that’s smart and unafraid of sentimentality. Acting ensemble is appealing in a show that stands as the new “Friends.”
Weaknesses: Maybe too similar to “Friends” when emphasizing romantic tensions, with Ted (Josh Radnor) treading into unlikability.
Best days ahead or behind: It has at least one more great season in it.
— Glenn Whipp

MONK
USA
Strengths: Originality of premise didn’t grow stale. Tony Shalhoub’s acting has made for compulsive viewing.
Weaknesses: When mystery plotlines start resorting to evil twins, the end is near.
Best days ahead or behind: Show’s eighth season will be its last and should prove satisfying, with Monk finally finding his wife’s killer.
— Glenn Whipp

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD ChRISTINE
CBS
Strengths: A stellar cast that knows how to mine the show’s rich vein of acute middle-age humiliation comedy, headed by the always inventive Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Great showcase for funny women.
Weaknesses: Sameness creeps into the storylines of failed romance, and the show can get too slapsticky.
Best days ahead or behind: It’s a toss-up.
— Robert Abele

THE OFFICE
NBC
Strengths: Extraordinarily rich characters enable series to flourish while telling risky stories without obvious guffaws.
Weaknesses: The battle between interim boss Charles (Idris Elba) and misunderstood Jim (John Krasinski) went on too long.
Best days ahead or behind: In theory it only gets harder, but if the show has shown any decline after five years, it’s been a sliver.
— Jon Weisman

UGLY BETTY
ABC
Strengths: Irresistibly charming America Ferrera, addictive camp appeal and scene-stealing supporting players.
Weaknesses: Betty’s chemistry-less romance and the departure of Christina have contributed to steadily declining ratings.
Best days ahead or behind: Betty was best in earlier seasons, when she was swooning over Henry and covering for her clueless playboy boss. Show will seek a rebirth in upcoming move to the Friday-night graveyard.
— Sandie Angulo Chen

TWO AND A HALF MEN
CBS
Strengths: Chuck Lorre’s writing. No major cast defections. Holland Taylor.
Weaknesses: A teenage Angus T. Jones has lost some (but not all) of Jake’s innocence.
Best days ahead or behind: The dysfunctional relationship between Charlie Sheen’s Charlie and Jon Cryer’s Alan is showing no signs of fatigue. Also, returning Emmanuelle Vaugier’s Mia, arguably Charlie’s most sultry love interest, created a cliffhanger worthy of a “Knots Landing” season finale.
— Michael Maloney

WEEDS
Showtime
Strengths: Unforgettable highs included hempstress matriarch Nancy Botwin lecturing both her sons in a uniquely shot monologue about how they shouldn’t have sex with motherlike substitutes nor pleasure themselves to younger photos of their mother.
Weaknesses: Last season’s Mexican immigrant hijinks with Andy (Justin Kirk) and Doug (Kevin Nealon) seemed redundant, considering the conundrums they’ve faced in previous seasons.
Best days ahead or behind: A priceless cliffhanger, in which Nancy revealed to her Mexican drug lord boyfriend Esteban that she’s pregnant with his child (after he learns that she’s double-crossed him and snitched to the feds) left fans hungry for more.
— Anthony D’Alessandro

More TV

  • Wowow Acquires ‘The Good Doctor’ for

    Wowow Acquires ‘The Good Doctor’ for Japan

    THE BIG BANG THEORYCBSStrengths: A perfect cast that capitalizes on its inner nerd. Writing is as sharp as that of any comedy around.Weaknesses: Johnny Galecki has a bit of second-fiddle status with Jim Parsons’ emergence, and it would be nice to see them back on even terrain.Best days ahead or behind: A sweet season finale, […]

  • Hasan Minhaj

    TV News Roundup: Hasan Minhaj Joins NBC's 'Champions' in Guest Role (EXCLUSIVE)

    THE BIG BANG THEORYCBSStrengths: A perfect cast that capitalizes on its inner nerd. Writing is as sharp as that of any comedy around.Weaknesses: Johnny Galecki has a bit of second-fiddle status with Jim Parsons’ emergence, and it would be nice to see them back on even terrain.Best days ahead or behind: A sweet season finale, […]

  • Sony's Tony Vinciquerra: Disney-Fox 'Creates Opportunities'

    Sony's Tony Vinciquerra: Disney-Fox 'Creates Opportunities'

    THE BIG BANG THEORYCBSStrengths: A perfect cast that capitalizes on its inner nerd. Writing is as sharp as that of any comedy around.Weaknesses: Johnny Galecki has a bit of second-fiddle status with Jim Parsons’ emergence, and it would be nice to see them back on even terrain.Best days ahead or behind: A sweet season finale, […]

  • Mayweather McGregor fight

    Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor Fight Is Second Biggest Pay-Per-View of All Time

    THE BIG BANG THEORYCBSStrengths: A perfect cast that capitalizes on its inner nerd. Writing is as sharp as that of any comedy around.Weaknesses: Johnny Galecki has a bit of second-fiddle status with Jim Parsons’ emergence, and it would be nice to see them back on even terrain.Best days ahead or behind: A sweet season finale, […]

  • What Disney Bought in the Fox

    What Disney Bought: A Billion-Dollar Breakdown of Assets

    THE BIG BANG THEORYCBSStrengths: A perfect cast that capitalizes on its inner nerd. Writing is as sharp as that of any comedy around.Weaknesses: Johnny Galecki has a bit of second-fiddle status with Jim Parsons’ emergence, and it would be nice to see them back on even terrain.Best days ahead or behind: A sweet season finale, […]

  • Actor Dustin Hoffman poses for photographers

    Dustin Hoffman Accused of Exposing Himself to a Minor, Assaulting Two Women (EXCLUSIVE)

    THE BIG BANG THEORYCBSStrengths: A perfect cast that capitalizes on its inner nerd. Writing is as sharp as that of any comedy around.Weaknesses: Johnny Galecki has a bit of second-fiddle status with Jim Parsons’ emergence, and it would be nice to see them back on even terrain.Best days ahead or behind: A sweet season finale, […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content