These rookies brought the funny — and not a small amount of darkness:
“The Big C”
Strengths: Takes a dicey concept and delivers an unassuming, poignant portrayal of a woman diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma. Acerbic Laura Linney superb as always.
Weaknesses: Early episodes so determined to eschew sentimentality that show struggled to find proper tone.
Best days ahead or behind?: Series found its footing by end of its freshman year. Heroine’s transition from denial to anger promises plenty of drama (in this comedy) for season two.
Strengths: Mixing British and American humor and a ruthless approach to television-industry satire. The cast excelled as well, from image-upending Matt LeBlanc to U.K. imports Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan.
Weaknesses: Are six episodes for “Episodes” too few?
Best days ahead or behind?: This is tricky, as the first season made for a tightly scripted start-to-finish storyline, and it’s unclear where another season could go, but with only six to make a year, that might be a minor issue.
Strengths: The bravest comedy on TV, “Louie” has standup comic Louis CK struggling with his divorce by Facebook-stalking his childhood crush, obsessively shoveling ice cream into his face, and giving hecklers what’s coming to ’em. Each episode comprises short films, written and directed by the show’s namesake star, that are bold and hysterical.
Weaknesses: “Louie” makes few concessions to reach a broader audience.
Best days ahead or behind?: As long as FX continues to support this stellar show, there are many more great episodes to come.
“Mike & Molly”
Strengths: The chemistry between Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy was winning from moment one.
Weaknesses: The supporting characters were more like supporting caricatures, particularly at the outset of the series.
Best days ahead or behind?: Not only can “M&M” can relax into a rhythm, but interest should be piqued by McCarthy’s scene-stealing turn in “Bridesmaids.”
Strengths: The cast. Matthew Perry’s patented chipper sarcasm is a finely tuned comedy instrument, but Allison Janney routinely stole scenes as his self-centered boss.
Weaknesses: It all too easily fell into the sitcom rhythms of any other workplace comedy, and there aren’t enough interesting character dynamics between cast members.
Best days ahead or behind?: Though it had the potential for plenty of storytelling versatility in the future, “Sunshine” set on ABC with its cancelation.
Strengths: Even with a Groupon, the Chance family couldn’t afford a nice dinner out. Yet if charm could be converted to cash, they’d rival Warren Buffett. There’s lots of love to go around here for each other, even for crazy Maw Maw.
Weaknesses: Jimmy’s pining for Sabrina can sometimes feel dragged out. He adores her, she ignores him. We get it. And she’s a smart girl, so what does she see in her heathen of a boyfriend?
Best days ahead or behind?: Creator Greg Garcia likely has abundant storylines to mine. Can’t imagine that season two wouldn’t be as good, if not better.
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