What HERC likes: New TV Shows

Back at the end of August, HERC told you what shows he planned on watching as the new television season unfolded.  He's back today with a quick look at 6 new shows that have his attention thus far into the young season.  Let him know your new favorites in the comments.

The New Normal is the fifth series from the pen of Ryan Murphy who shares creative credit on this one with Ali Adler.  Murphy's other shows are Popular, nip/tuck, Glee and American Horror Story, all of which HERC enjoyed for at least one season - only Popular got HERC's time past it's inaugural season though.  Murphy has an agenda besides entertaining viewers, he wants them to see and hear things other shows aren't showing and telling and often times it's all too much for HERC's sensibilities.   To their credit, Murphy and his writers present well-rounded arguments for and against societal hot topics: gay marriage, single motherhood as well as bigotry of all flavors.  Frankly, HERC has been somewhat surprised by some of the things that have come out of Ellen Barkin's bigoted Tea Party character's mouth - it's not what she says but the fact that she's saying it on one of the three (sorry, Fox and CW) major networks without a bleep.  It's not the anything goes land of cable but it's damn close.  If Modern Family (another one of HERC's favorites) is too Disney for you, you just might love the wonderfully outspoken The New Normal.  Heck, you might like this dysfunctional family comedy, which was just picked up for the entire season, even if you've never heard of Modern Family.  (Currently airing on NBC on Tuesday nights - check your local listings.)

Another wonderfully dysfunctional family comedy is Ben And Kate.  Honestly, HERC did not want to like this show - neither of the leads brings any previous role cache with them but  Dakota Johnson, who plays "Kate", does bring some star-power genes - her folks are Don (Sonny Crockett, Nash Bridges) Johnson and Melanie (married to Antonio Banderas) Griffith.  The titular characters are siblings who, as revealed through flashbacks, relied on each other to get through their own less than idyllic childhood.  Years later, "Ben" still hasn't put all the pieces of his life together so he moves in with his little sister, single mother "Kate", herself a few clues shy of solving the mysteries of life as a responsible adult.  As a team, the two are formidable, each one's strengths complimenting the other's weaknesses.  The supporting cast of characters is also strong: the little girl from We Bought A Zoo play's Kate's daughter, "Maddie"; Judy Punch as the wink-wink named "BJ", the wonderfully crass co-worker of "Kate" and "Tommy", a family friend who is madly in love with "Kate" is played by newcomer and wonderfully named Echo Kellum.  Like Raising Hope, which precedes it, the show is a silly sitcom with a surprisingly sweet heart beating beneath the yuk yuks. (Currently airing on FOX on Tuesday nights - check your local listings.)

Fresh from the recently ended Weeds, Andy Kirk plays the lead veterinarian on Animal Practice.  The first episode aired after the Olympics one night, so many people missed it.  HERC recorded it and has watched it at least 5 times since.  It is Scrubs without the moralising, cutaways and narration, set in the largest ummm animal practice in New York City.  JoAnna Garcia-Swisher plays Kirk's character's new boss and former lover; Tyler Labine and Bobby Lee play fellow vets on staff but it is Crystal the Monkey who steals the show as "Dr. Rizzo" after her role in the Night At The Museum movies.  It is not a show for people who value animals as much as people and fortunately HERC is not one of those, he's Team People all the way.  FUN FACTS: Garcia-Swisher replaced the originally cast actress in the role after the unaired pilot episode was filmed and Crystal's character was initially named "Dr. Zaius". (Currently airing on NBC on Wednesday nights - check your local listings.)

Matthew Perry is a likable enough fellow and he has played basically the same character in every project he's done since Friends went off the air more than eight years ago.  As adorable and self-deprecating as his humor is, he hasn't had much luck in sustaining two follow-up series (Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip and Mr. Sunshine) beyond a single season. His latest effort, Go On, which also aired after the Olympics one night, just might change that record for the better.  He plays a recently widowed sports radio talk show host who attends a support group.  The other people in the group are made up of familiar faces to anyone who has watched even a modicum of movies or TV shows the past few years - HERC's favorites are Julie White, "Nadine" from Grace Under Fire and Tyler James Williams who was "Chris" in Everybody Hates Chris.  It is no stretch of the imagination to call Go On a less zany and hip but no less funny Community and you'll have ample opportunity to make up your own mind as it was just picked up for a full season.  (Currently airing on Tuesday nights - check your local listings.)

Not to be confused with 1981's darkly bizarre satire Neighbors starring John Belushi, The Neighbors stars Jami Gertz (who HERC has kept an eye on since her 80s quad-fecta of Square Pegs, Sixteen Candles, Less Than Zero and Lost Boys) and Lenny Venito (from HERC's mush-loved Knights Of Prosperityas city folks who move their family to a gated community in the suburbs which is entirely populated by aliens from another planet who have taken human form.  HERC's classifying this one as a guilty pleasure as he thinks it just might be one of the fall season's first casualties.  (Currently airing on Wednesday nights - check your local listings earthling.)

Elementary was the most eagerly anticipated show on HERC's list.  After just one viewing, he has a few tiny reservations but HERC remains confident the series starring Jonny Lee (Eli Stone and Angelina Jolie's first victim husband) Miller as "Sherlock Homes" and Lucy Liu as "Dr. Joan Watson" will continue to grow on him.  The show won a million bajillion bonus points by featuring this song at the end of the episode:

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