What an odd, odd night of television for me yesterday, but it was network television, and there is just something wonderful in that feeling.
It all started out simply, and mundanely enough, with the premiere episode of the new Kelsey Grammer/Patricia Heaton show, Back to You. This little newsroom comedy has Chuck Darling (Grammer) returning to his TV roots in Pittsburgh after blowing it in Los Angeles. Despite having left the city ten years ago, there are still numerous familiar (I won't say "friendly") faces at the station, and Darling begins reconnecting. His co-anchor, Kelly Carr (Heaton), is one of those faces, but in the ten years that have passed she decided that she didn't have to accept pomposity from a co-anchor, particularly Darling. She also happens to have given birth to Darling's kid, unbeknownst to Darling of course.
And now we see exactly where the show is headed. The only question is if the trip will be fun. Back to You does certainly have enough good actors in it, but can they make a newsroom fresh and exciting and different? Can they do it using this old standby plot of guy coming back into town and finding out about a kid he fathered? That's a little tougher to say. What about Grammer playing a lothario? Is that something we can believe? The pilot was amusing enough, but it's really not a "FOX" show, is it?
Of course, its lead-out, 'Til Death, isn't really a FOX show either. Somehow renewed for a second season, this comedy follows two married couples, one older, one younger, as they explore the ins and outs of relationships and life. At least last night, Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher (they play the old couple) were far funnier than Eddie Kaye Thomas and Kat Foster (the young couple), which means that this also skews a little old for FOX, no?
Maybe not, maybe I'm just thinking this all skews old because I also watched Kid Nation, CBS's "let's throw some kids into a deserted town and see what happens" reality show. Sadly for the viewer, but a positive for the parents, everyone made it through the first few days without more than a few tears and a pulled muscle.
I know, more folks in the 18-49 age category watched FOX during the hour than CBS, but the CBS show still feels young, what with the exploiting of kids and all. And that really is the interesting bit about the show, isn't it? It's not so much what happens to these kids, it's looking for whether or not CBS put them into a situation that was unsafe. I would have to say that they did not. Weird and a little under-supervised, probably, but not patently unsafe. Right now I'd have to assume, after all their little friends watched last night, those kids might be less safe than they were in the desert. There were kids I detested on the show, and I imagine there are schoolmates of some of those kids that feel the same way. I understand that the kids as they appeared on the show have no correlation to the kids as they are, so while I can accept what I saw, other children may not be able to. That's a story I want to hear more about: did any child that appeared on Kid Nation get beat up due to their appearance?
It's kind of like the idea that Peter of Peter's Italian Restaurant, the hothead manager that Gordon Ramsay gave a tongue-lashing to last night on Kitchen Nightmares, may find people gunning for him. The biggest problem with Kitchen Nightmares' premiere episode is that they made the entire thing look too easy. Here is Gordon Ramsay, he takes a look at a failing restaurant for a day or two, pinpoints THE PROBLEM and a few problems that stem from THE PROBLEM, fixes them over the next couple days and the restaurant becomes a huge success. Last night's problem was the aforementioned Peter, a guy more interested in fighting and looking good (in his opinion) than doing right by the restaurant. Consequently the kitchen has fallen into disrepair which makes the chefs unable to do their jobs correctly. The fact that their ravioli isn't strictly speaking their ravioli – it was bought elsewhere and they're just boiling it – is completely irrelevant. But, this complaint of mine completely ignores the fact that I enjoy watching Gordon Ramsay yell at people, and seeing how disgusting some restaurant kitchens are is a good time too (though you wouldn't think that to be the case).
Man, am I happy that the new fall season is upon us. It's at this point in September that even watching bad shows is fun.