One of the most anticipated—and to me, disappointing—debuts of the fall is tonight’s The Event on NBC. My feelings haven’t changed much since I previewed an early version in July. (“The Event, really, feels more like NBC’s attempt to create the next FlashForward: an extremely plot-forward sci-fi thriller with a Big Question and no characters per se so much as game pieces.”) Having a huge to-do list, and not seeing much value in re-panning it at greater length, I will refer you to that post. It’s always possible the show could turn around in later episodes; if so, I’ll come back to it.
Another network debut tonight is Chuck Lorre’s Mike and Molly, for CBS, a “romantic comedy” about a cop and kindergarten teacher who meet in an overweight adults’ support group. Lorre has stressed that the show isn’t just fat jokes, and he’s right. It’s fat jokes, plus a pretty overfamiliar relationship comedy (best friends, eccentric sister, first date anxiety, &c.) The problem is, the fat jokes are bad to awful, while, if you took away the fat angle, there would pretty much be no point to the otherwise unremarkable dating comedy.
As other critics have noted, Lorre’s The Big Bang Theory got better as it started laughing with its characters more than laughing at them. (I still don’t love the show, but enjoy it when I catch it, and Jim Parsons deserves every accolade he gets.) I’m not sure that that’s Mike and Molly’s basic problem, though: the show seems sympathetic to them as far as it goes, but the fat humor is just predictable and lame.
Still, it’s possible this too could be retooled into a much better comedy. The one thing it has going for it is that, somewhere in it, it seems to have an idea of the two leads as actual, non-caricatured people. (Mike, for instance, gets a nicely written monologue about how he followed his dad into police work.) Should that happen, I’ll give it another chance, but I’m not expecting a second date.