NBC has had it easy ratings-wise the last couple of weeks thanks to the Winter Olympics, but now it’s now time to get back to business. The struggling network appears to be heading in the right direction to continue the trend with some new shows. While technically not new shows, Jimmy Fallon seems to be settling into his new digs well enough on the Tonight Show and the new season of The Voice started strong with new judges Shakira and Usher. Late Night started its new life with Seth Meyers last night and tonight is the premieres of two new family-themed shows, About a Boy and Growing Up Fisher.
Late Night with Seth Meyers
Weeknights at 12:35 a.m.
Unlike Jimmy Fallon, who seemed a bit nervous with his first show as the host of the Tonight Show, Seth Meyers settled into his space with relative ease. Executively produced by Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels, the show has taken what Meyers did best on his years with SNL and created a show around it. Whether standing or sitting, Meyers still appears to serving as a news anchor. Even the opening monologue, which was the weakest part of the show, felt like it was ripped from SNL. The desk and the monologues are standard for late night shows, but it is questionable if either is need for Meyers.
Late Night is powered by the 8G Band with SNL alumni Fred Armisen, who like Paul Schaffer of David Letterman fame, is a great mix of music and quick wit. The show’s first night kicked off with former SNL alumni and Parks and Recreation star, Amy Poehler, Vice President Joe Biden and A Great Big World as the musical guest. Poehler was an easy guest and could have been brought in to serve as moral support. Biden was charming and A Great Big World finished off the night with their hit “Say Something.” But the most impressive part of the show was when Myers shared a personal story about how he and his wife got stuck with a flat tire. Since Meyers knows nothing about cars, a man from the restaurant that they were dining at came to the rescue while Meyers looked on holding the couple’s little dog. His wife took a picture to prove it.
Guests for the rest of the week include Kanye West and author Robyn Doolittle (Tuesday), Kelly Ripa and Brad Paisley (Wednesday), Lena Dunham, Anthony Mackie and musical guest John Mayer Trio (Thursday) and Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Sophia Bush and comedian Michael Che (Friday).
About a Boy
Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m.
This season, NBC is adding two family-themed shows to its line-up, but its first, About a Boy, isn’t appropriate for the whole family – at least during the pilot episode. Still, it’s a charming story with a lot of potential. Based on the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby (“High Fidelity,” “An Education”), written and produced by Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”), and directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Revolution”) Boy is a coming of age story with heart.
David Walton plays Will Freeman, a young, former band singer with a playboy attitude. His friend (Al Madrigal) is enjoying married life and raising his two children, but Freeman wants nothing of that. He is a meat-loving, self-absorbed and spoiled man who receives the polar opposite of neighbors: Vegan-eating, yoga-stretching, deep-thinking Fiona (Minnie Driver) and her awkward 11-year-old son, Marcus (Benjamin Stockham). They meet briefly when mother and child are moving in and Freeman is coming back after chasing after his latest conquest in his underwear. Fiona is horrified but Marcus thinks he has just found a new friend. Will plays along, but his intentions are not always the best. Still, by the end of the episode, you can see how these two will help each other become better men, and for that, the show should be applauded. However, judging from the pilot episode alone, Will’s free love style of living will not sit well with many parents at home watching. Here’s to hoping that the show cleans up its act soon. If it can, this show can be a real winner.
Growing Up Fisher
Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.
NBC’s other tryout is better suited for families. Too bad that it airs at 9:30 p.m. Like most of TV these days, the Fishers are not your typical family. The show is inspired by Executive Producer, DJ Nash’s own life growing up with a family that is ironically drawn closer together by divorce. Jason Bateman narrates the show as 11-year-old Henry Fisher. His father Mel (J.K. Simmons) has been blind since the age of 12, but he never lets that stop him from doing, well, anything including chopping down trees and parallel parking. His mother Joyce (Jenna Elfman) is going through her own mid-life crisis trying to “find herself.” His sister, Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley), has the unfortunate job of mothering her own mother.
Mel never lies, but he does trick people. For instance, he has a tendency to pretend that he’s not blind and uses his son to help in the charade. The show is great in that Mel strives to be a good father no matter what and no matter how self-centered Joyce is, she really does love her kids. For once, TV actually presents a family where the sister and brother actually get along. It will be interesting to see where NBC takes this family over the next few months.