First-year Emmy comedy contenders

Some of the new scripted laffers in contention

BETTER OFF TED
ABC
Strengths: With a constant satiric outlook on product placement in the corporate world, “Ted” found its own unique and amusing rhythm.
Weaknesses: The characters on “Ted” don’t necessarily inspire as much adoration as those on other sitcoms.
Best days ahead or behind: Probably ahead, considering the show’s youth, but viewers will find out soon enough when the show re-turns with new episodes beginning Tuesday.
— Justin Kroll

EASTBOUND AND DOWN
HBO

Strengths: With his fastball or his abrasiveness, Kenny Powers lets it fly. In an age of political correctness, his language and actions are, shall we say, unfiltered.
Weaknesses: The abusive and boorish behavior is good in spurts, but too much is not a good thing.
Best days ahead or behind: Definitely ahead. Now that he realizes his pro ball career is over, how does Kenny learn to fit in among the common folk?
— Stuart Levine

PARKS AND RECREATION
NBC
Strengths: Following the formula that led to much success on “The Office,” “Parks” brings the quirky, mockudoc humor that voters and auds have enjoyed over the past couple of years.
Weaknesses: Though lead Amy Poehler is nothing if not game, it’s still natural at this point to think of the show as recycled “Office.”
Best days ahead or behind: Leaning toward ahead. The season finale’s cliffhanger ending opened the door for a possible love triangle next season that could give the push it needs.
— Justin Kroll

PARTY DOWN
Starz
Strengths: The show has a great rhythm and arguably surpasses “Entourage” in its cunning embrace of Hollywood’s wannabe community.
Weaknesses: Not necessarily a weakness, but a lot of the laughs are of the “on the inside” variety in this dark comedy.
Best days ahead or behind: Picked up for a second season, “Party” doesn’t feel like it’s exhausted its potential in the slightest.
— Jon Weisman

UNITED STATES OF TARA
Showtime
Strengths: Toni Collette is seamless in her alter-ego transitions between a butch-biker, a June Cleaver housewife, raunchy teen and a rational woman who is just dealing with them all.
Weaknesses: It’s nice to think that a suburban family could serve as the backbone to a mother suffering from multiple personalities, but ultimately the viewer needs to suspend disbelief as this family sticks together without any wrinkles.
Best days ahead or behind: Hard to tell, but it should be interesting to find out. In the season’s final episode, Tara confronted the rapist who possibly triggered her disorder.
— Anthony D’Alessandro

WORST WEEK
CBS
Strengths: Kyle Bornheimer was extremely likable, whether he was pampering his wife or falling through shards of glass.
Weaknesses: The weekly bumbling became stale, confirming ‘Worst’ fears the premise wouldn’t work long-term.
Best days ahead or behind: Canceled by CBS.
— Stuart Levine

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