Bad Teacher (Thursday, April 24, CBS), series debut: Do we really need a weekly sitcom take on Cameron Diaz’s Bad Teacher when the 2011 movie is still running on cable 24/7? If Diaz’s TV replacement is Ari Graynor (For a Good Time, Call …), yes. The single-camera, no-laugh-track Bad Teacher comes off like a Fox comedy that wound up on CBS, and Graynor’s Meredith—a dumped trophy wife who fakes her way into teaching at an upscale elementary school to snag Rich Husband No. 2—is far more appealing than Diaz’s toxic film version. She and vet David Alan Grier, as Nixon Middle School’s principal, make Bad Teacher CBS’ funniest new comedy in years—which means it won’t last long; catch it while you can.
Black Box (Thursday, April 24, ABC), series debut: Last year, NBC premiered (and two weeks later canceled) Do No Harm, about a brilliant surgeon with a nocturnal second personality that was more fun—and, well, murderous—than the dull daytime doctor. Never a network to pass up an already proven bad idea, ABC now brings you Black Box, the story of a renowned neurologist (Kelly Reilly) whose under-wraps bipolar disorder gives her “insight into her patients” and full Acting! license to turn into a batshit-loony sex-bomb nightmare on a dime, because, you know, Drama. She flushes her pills because she does her “best work” (i.e. manic scribbles on her arms during blackout and hallucinations) off the meds, and lives with the consequences. (The viewers’ consequences: all of her personalities are annoying.) Like Do No Harm, Black Box makes for good trainwreck hate-watching—and, since ABC blindly ordered 13 episodes without a pilot (!), there’ll be plenty of it.
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (Sunday, April 27, HBO), series debut: Former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver would have been The Guy to take over Stephen Colbert’s soon-to-be-vacated Colbert Report slot at Comedy Central, but HBO got him first. Not that he’ll be reporting the top news first, because, as the title implies, “Whenever a story breaks … John Oliver will cover it the following Sunday.” Whatever Last Week Tonight With John Oliver lacks in immediacy and daily-ness, he’ll probably make up for with F-bombs. (It’s HBO—they’re mandatory.)
Friends With Better Lives (Mondays, CBS), new series: With an odd mix of genuinely funny actors who deserve better (James Van Der Beek, Zoe Lister-Jones) and the exact opposite (Kevin Connolly, Brooklyn Decker), Friends With Better Lives (and its obnoxiously enforced hashtag, #FWBL) at least has the distinction of being even dirtier than lead-in 2 Broke Girls—if you can name another network sitcom with more blowjob jokes per minute, The Only TV Column That Matters™ will … congratulate you. Apart from the aforementioned Bad Teacher, the only comedy criteria CBS execs seem to care about any more are: “Will it fill a half-hour?” and “Is the laugh track loud enough to drown out the screaming conscience in my head?” Done and done!
Playing House (Tuesday, April 29, USA), series debut: If you somehow recall Best Friends Forever, Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham’s 2012 NBC comedy about two almost-uncomfortably-close girlfriends, know that Playing House is totally different. Then, St. Clair played a recent divorcee who moved in with her BFF (Parham) for support. This time, Parham plays a pregnant recent divorcee who moves in with her BFF (St. Clair) for support. Cut Parham and St. Clair some slack—no one saw the hilariously charming Best Friends Forever, and Playing House has the edge with better co-stars (like Keegan-Michael Key and Jane Kaczmarek) and the chance of living beyond six episodes. Say, maybe 10!
DVD ROUNDUP FOR APRIL 29!
Not a documentary about Lady Antebellum: In 1983 Baton Rouge, a cop (Willem Dafoe) talks a contract killer (Matt Dillon) into becoming an informant to bring down a crime ring. Based on a true story with even worse mustaches. (Sony)
The Class: The Complete Series
The forgotten 2006 sitcom starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Jay Bernthal (The Walking Dead), Jason Ritter (Parenthood) and others who went onto better shows, if not better haircuts. (Warner Bros.; released earlier this month)
Escape From Tomorrow
A man out with his family at Disneyland (or not Disneyland, depending on which lawyers are reading) begins to see nightmarish visions as we learn valuable lessons about artificial perfection and tolerating black-and-white films. (FilmBuff)
A pregnant teenager (Vanessa Hudgens) disowned by her crackhead mother (Rosario Dawson) and rich father (Brendan Fraser) finds salvation (and James Earl Jones) in a shelter. Based on a true story with less-attractive people. (Roadside/LionsGate)
The Legend of Hercules
Half-god/half-man/all-hunk Hercules (Kellan Lutz), exiled out of the VIP area, battles his way back into the kingdom to overthrow his stepdad and restore peace by committing as many violent 3-D acts as possible within a PG-13 rating. (Summit)
More New DVD Releases (April 29)
Art Machine, The Best Offer, Bucksville, Dark Hearts, Devil’s Due, Gloria, Hill Street Blues: The Complete Series, Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed, Labor Day, Locker 13, Mr. Selfridge: Season 2, The Rocket, The Selfish Giant, Trouble Every Day, Up the Junction.