NBC has released several new clips from their crop of forthcoming comedies, which include Ryan Murphy's "The New Normal," "Go On" starring Matthew Perry," "Save Me" starring Anne Heche, "Animal Practice" starring Justin Kirk, the Jimmy Fallon-produced "Guys with Kids," "1600 Penn" starring Jenna Elfman and "Next Caller" starring Dane Cook. After sifting through all the videos, 10 distinct lessons were learned.
1) The monkey in "Animal Practice" is shaping up to be a scene-stealer
Forget Justin Kirk, this primate is going places - in a tiny, tiny car. He even manages to become the focal point in a scene that features guinea pigs riding on turtles. No small feat, that.
2) White House comedy "1600 Penn" has way more fire in it than you'd expect
As the son of the President (Bill Pullman), Skip (Josh Gad) probably shouldn't be shooting fireworks into frat houses or throwing burning chairs out of windows. But he does.
3) "The New Normal" isn't exactly subtle about its message
In the first of these two clips, gay couple Clay (Jayson Blair) and David (Justin Bartha) grill a woman named Goldie (Georgia King) who is interviewing to be their surrogate mother. Note the not-so-delicate fashion in which Ryan Murphy and his writers shoehorn in the show's "love is love" message at the very end. (Hint: one of the characters actually says "love is love".) It's a worthy message, certainly, but would it have killed them to handle it with a tad more sophistication? Ditto on Clip #2, in which one-half of the couple says to the other: "Look around! Your definition of 'traditional' might need a refresh!" Groan.
4) The tired "Organized Type-A Female Butts Heads With Scruffy Chauvinistic Male" trope continues in "Next Caller"
Collette Wolfe and Dane Cook don't like each other because, see, he's an unkempt, immature DJ and she's the blonde, perky new co-host he didn't ask for. Hilarity ensues?
5) In the world of multi-camera comedies, stale jokes never go out of style
The Jimmy Fallon-produced "Guys with Kids" is about three friends (played by Anthony Anderson, Zach Cregger and Jesse Bradford) who must navigate the trials and tribulations of young fatherhood. It's also a comedy in which the following line is actually supposed to be funny: "I haven't slept in six years! I'm tired! This morning, I tried to put a shirt on my legs for five minutes!"
6) "Save Me"'s premise is deceptively corny
If conceived as a drama, "Save Me" - about a woman (Anne Heche) goes through a near-death experience and then discovers that God is telling her things - could've been eye-rollingly saccharine. Instead, Anne Heche plays a woman who says things like this to her husband: "I am so, so glad I didn't bash your head in with that hammer!" Which is so much better.
7) "Go On" is this year's "Free Agents" - thematically, anyway
Mixing comedy with serious pathos (the tragic death of a fiance) didn't work for NBC's ill-fated Hank Azaria/Kathryn Hahn comedy last year, but the network is nevertheless forging ahead with "Go On," a comedy starring Matthew Perry as a sportscaster who's forced to attend group therapy sessions following the tragic death of his wife. Are you laughing yet?