- Special Features
- Log In/Register
TV Show Review – The New Normal
Rating: 4 (out of 5). NBC’s “The New Normal,” is the Ryan Murphy/Ali Adler created comedy about a same-sex couple from Beverly Hills who hire a woman to be the surrogate mother to their child. Most critics are on board with this edgy and controversial topic.
Variety reserved it’s kudos for now, expressing there is “much to like in the pilot, along with warning flags as to where the series could easily slide into the Pacific Ocean.” This debut “exhibits some of the excesses audiences have come to expect from creator Ryan Murphy, but also contains heart and a message.” The show will also “seek a mix between screwball comedy and heart, which is considerably harder to master than ‘Modern Family’ has made it look.” Variety concluded it “won’t be for everybody, but there’s enough here to suggest it can connect with a loyal core, enticing some to stick around and see what develops.”
New York Times found it appealing, saying creator Ryan Murphy’s effort is a “funny, appealing show.” It is an “arch comedy with a soft heart behind its scrim of fast-paced patter.” The Times complimented the pilot as “a modern comedy with a twist of old-fashioned sentimentality.”
Los Angeles Times offered a mixed review, calling it “generally sweeter than co-creator Ryan Murphy’s other shows. but the result can be something of a freak show.” They said “Much about the pilot felt flat or programmatic, but much was likable as well.” The Times especially liked “the nonchalant tenderness between the male leads.”
Boston Globe recommended the debut, expressing “The pilot shows promise, particularly in the originality of the premise”. They found it to be “Modern Family”-esque, in that the show will explore the intersection of extended family and family of choice”. The Globe added “Abnormal is the new normal, and it’s fun to see a series embracing and finding humor in that reality.” Cautiously, they offered “ ‘The New Normal’ is sweet-natured, in the way the characters mingle their lives together; but the jokes, they are mighty spotty.
Seattle Post Intelligencer is also onboard, calling it “a biting yet sweet-at-heart sitcom that bucks current network comedy trends by actually being about something.” They added, “As you’d expect from co-creator Ryan Murphy (Glee), the tone can wobble from sappy to flamboyantly snarky, but there’s a real emotional undercurrent.”
USA Today found it “very funny, frequently messy and yet surprisingly touching comedy that would be a welcome addition in any year. For the most part, Normal plays like a lovely, small movie, mixing humorous moments with sweet, gentle grace notes.” They cautioned “As is not unusual with pilots, however, Normal is not always at its best. That’s a writing problem and should be easy to fix.”
Huffington Post was split. “On the positive side of the ledger, ‘The New Normal’ does have some witty lines and the cast is solid”. This sitcom “is a slickly made piece of entertainment”, adding that “the shamelessly sentimental moments aren’t too eyeroll-inducing.” On the less positive side, it “features a whole bunch of (co-creator Ryan) Murphy standbys . . . which are starting to seem pretty threadbare.” They summarized with a mixed message: “The New Normal really excels is in deploying questionable or flat-out objectionable attitudes and then taking them back (haha! It was just a joke!).”
Kansas City Star loved it, saying “‘The New Normal’ has so much heart, it feels almost old-fashioned.” They pronounced “Those who opt out of watching the show tonight will be missing a fairly promising pilot with a lot of humor, solid performances, a snappy script and, yes, a lot to say about the evolving nature of families.” The script for the pilot “crackles with sharp one-liners, but the big take-away here is that it’s sweet to the edge of sentimental.”
New York Daily News calls it a “bumpy ride”, voicing that it “doesn’t need to be a better vessel for some mythic traditional American morality. It needs to be a better sitcom.” They offered that among the “good things about “The New Normal,” the performances are strong.” Creator Ryan Murphy “tries to do here what he does in ‘Glee’, which is bounce between near-slapstick, sometimes silly humor and serious ruminations on life and love.” The Daily News concluded this “half-hour sitcom simply may not provide enough room for those parts to get comfortable together.”
Washington Post was similarly uncertain, noting Ryan Murphy’s “relentlessly strong (and even hyperactive) instinct for TV concepts and characters is always a pleasure to watch at the start… Then, soon enough, some viewers tend to peel off from his shows until only die-hard fans remain.” However, the reviewer felt the players “display yin/yang neuroses that keep their characters interesting.” In the end, The Post labeled the show as a “fresh twist without feeling too much like another item on the gay agenda.
Time found it disappointing, noting “God, is this pilot trying hard.” They found it had “a high miss-to-fail ratio in the jokes. So far, ‘The New Normal’ is the new ho-hum.” It has “too many shrill, irritating characters to appreciate it as anything other than a statement about ‘How Parenting Is Changing Now’. They felt the show’s premise “could make for a more interesting story going forward . . . but for now this show is much more normal—read: mediocre—than it seems to think it is.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer was not keen on the debut, saying “if you’re not watching to make a statement …then you’re going to want it to be funny. And funny is something I’m still looking to find a little more of.” They added “Pilots can be tricky and this one tries so hard to set up its premise that at times it ends up feeling more like a PSA than a comedy.”
The San Francisco Chronicle calls the show “a fairly promising new show with a lot of humor, solid performances, a snappily written script and, yes, a lot to say about the evolving nature of families. Most of all, you’ll be missing a show with so much heart, it feels almost old-fashioned.”
Cinemablend.com praised the pilot. “The New Normal offers a heaping helping of snarky humor, under which are actual heartfelt stories:. They portrayed the dialogue as “sharp and full of biting one-liners.” The reviewer cited the show “gets off to a decent start. The pilot isn’t perfect, but it’s funny and clever” adding “it gives us a fair introduction into a show that appears to embrace the idea that family is what you make of it.”
Get Our Free Newsletter
Our daily TV show pick for tonight, Saturday, April 19, 2014 is "Billy Crystal 700 Sundays" on HBO at 9:00.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- Game of Thrones
- True Detective
- Orphan Black
- Breaking Bad
- True Detective
- Real Housewives
- Reality TV
What I'm Watching - Graham Yost
Justified creator/show runner/writer Graham Yost has more than enough to keep him busy, But, when he does manage to find some free time to watch TV, here's what he sits down to view:
Check out our interview with Graham to learn more about this very talented writer.
When he's not busy portraying bad guy Darryl Crowe Jr. in this season of Justified, here's what Michael Rapaport likes to watch on TV:
Check out our interview with the actor to gain more insights into Mr. Rapaport.
Featured TV Reviews
TV Show Review – Fargo
Rating: 4 (out of 5). FX’s “Fargo,” based on the Coen Brothers’ 1996 movie “Fargo,” is a 10 episode series with a new case and new characters, but one that “channels” the original film. The series stars Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo, a drifter who runs into insurance salesman Lester Nygaard, played by Martin [...]
TV Show Review – Years of Living Dangerously
Rating: 4 (out of 5). Showtime brings together big names such as James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Harrison Ford to make “Years of Living Dangerously” a documentary about global warming. These celebrities travel to different locations around the world to investigate what is happening and to talk about what we can do to solve the [...]
TV Show Review – Silicon Valley
Rating: 5 (out of 5). The center of HBO’s new comedy, “Silicon Valley,” is Richard, played by Thomas Middleditch, a shy, mousy programmer who finds himself in the middle of a bidding war between two tech companies who want the algorithm that he created. Rather than sell the code, Richard, along with his friends and [...]
TV Show Review – Turn
Rating: 3 (out of 5). AMC’s new period action drama “Turn,” about espionage during the Revolutionary War, stars Jamie Bell as Abraham Woodhull, a cabbage farmer on Long Island who secretly is against British occupation and is reluctantly drawn into the Culper Ring by his childhood friends to spy on the Red Coats. The critics [...]
- TV Show Review – Fargo
New on VOD
Here are the new VOD films for the week of April 15, 2014. Click on a movie title for more information, trailers and reviews.
Philomena. Rating: 5 (out of 5). A political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago, after she gave birth and was forced to live in a convent. The film, based on a true story, will be available on VOD starting Tuesday, April 15. The critics are enamored with this film with New York Observer saying, “Philomena is not only my favorite film of 2013, but one of the most eloquent, powerful and perfect movies I have ever seen.” Reviews, video and more.
The Invisible Woman. Rating: 4 (out of 5). A happily married mother and schoolteacher, Nelly, is haunted by her past, when she had a complicated and fragile, yet exciting, relationship with Charles Dickens. This period drama premieres on VOD on Tuesday, April 15. The critics are impressed with the film and especially the acting though some note that it has a "leisurely pace." As Variety says, “So tastefully mounted and brilliantly acted that it wears down even the corset-phobic’s innate resistance to such things.” Reviews, video and more.
Patrick: Evil Awakens. Rating: 3 (out of 5). A young nurse, who just started working in an isolated psychiatric ward, takes an interest in Patrick, a seemingly comatose patient who is actually a subject of a mad scientist’s experiments. Her innocent fascination turns sinister as Patrick begins using his psychic powers to manipulate her every move, sending her life into a terrifying spiral. Watch for it on VOD starting Tuesday, April 15. Most of the critics enjoyed (though did not love) this remake of the 1978 movie, and FearNet calls the film "a good example of how to remake an obscure but admired horror flick." Reviews, video and more.
Wolf Creek 2. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Another tourist becomes the prey for the serial killer Mick Taylor. The critics have given mixed reviews to this horror film that comes to VOD on Thursday, April 17. Reviews, video and more.
Beneath The Harvest Sky. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Casper and Dominic have been best friends since childhood. Wanting to get out of their quiet hometown on the Maine-Canada border, the boys make a pact to pool their earnings on a car and hit the road. But when Casper is drawn into drug smuggling with his outlaw father to pay his share, their friendship gets strained and both are forced to make adult choices too soon. The film premieres on VOD on Tuesday, April 15. There were more positive than negative reviews on the film and according to Variety, “”Beneath the Harvest Sky” offers a heartbreakingly authentic, vividly realized account of adolescent frustration and yearning.” Reviews, video and more.
Small Time. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Freddy Klein decides not to go to College, and instead joins his father in his used-car business. Premiering on VOD on Friday, April 18, The Village Voice thinks, “The film isn't without mirth and charm: Norris steals a number of scenes as the charismatic Ash, and the banter between Norris and Meloni is charmingly convivial. But as Surnow steers into serious waters, the direction of the storytelling becomes increasingly misguided.” Reviews, video and more.
Ride Along. Rating: 2 (out of 5). Ben, a security guard, joins a cop, James, on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta in order to prove himself worthy of marrying the latter’s sister. Premiering on VOD on Tuesday, April 15, most of the critics are not impressed with this one. New York Magazine (Vulture) is one of the better reviews when they write, “It all mostly works, but you can’t help but wonder at times if it could have been a lot funnier if it had just a bit more edge.” Reviews, video and more.
The Nut Job. Rating: 2 (out of 5). Surly is banished from the park he lives in, and is forced to live in the dangerous city. Lucky for him, he comes across the only thing that can save not only his life, but the rest of the park community as well as winter approaches: Maury’s Nut Store. The film premieres on VOD on April 15. Most of the critics were unimpressed with this animated film, as The Arizona Republic says, “Ever had one of those artificially sweetened candies that taste OK at first but leaves a lingering, bitter aftertaste? That’s sort of how it goes with “The Nut Job.” Reviews, video and more.
A Promise. Rating: 1 (out of 5). Adapted from Stefan Zweig’s Journey into the Past, this film by French director Patrice Leconte centers on the affair between a handsome male secretary and the wife of a wealthy industrialist. Coming to VOD on Friday, April 18, this film has not won the heart of the critics, and IndieWire (The Playlist) thinks, “Leconte’s never been the edgiest of filmmakers, but “A Promise” is so free of anything close to an edge that it’s like watching a beige sphere for ninety-odd minutes—and it feels much longer.” Reviews, video and more.
Kid Cannabis. No rating. A dramatic film that tells the true story of a teen dropout based in Idaho, who builds a multimillion-dollar marijuana ring by trafficking drugs through the woods across the Canadian border. But his many vices may just leave this kid in way over his head. The film comes to VOD on Friday, April 18, the same day as its theatrical release, and no reviews are available as of writing. Video and more.
Bright Days Ahead (Les Beaux Jours). No Rating. A recently retired woman, eager to devote some free time to herself, begins taking part in some events at a local seniors center. When she becomes involved with a man decades younger than herself, she keeps this from her husband, and she soon begins to experience life in ways that she has not in a long time. The film premieres on the same day as its theatrical release, April 15, in French with English subtitles. No critic reviews are available as of time of writing. Video and more.