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1998 and gave us some of the best po­lit­i­cal satire ever cap­tured in 24fps. So why’s the show back now? Ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­view with Ber­gen, “an elec­tion hap­pened.” If the re­vival’s any­thing like it used to be, pre­pare for an in­ti­mate look at the fast-paced world of broad­cast and a con­tin­ual roast of the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Now this is one of the greats, in my opin­ion. You’ve got Sofia Ver­gara, whose comedic tim­ing is al­ways a scene stealer, set among a myr­iad of char­ac­ters with one-lin­ers so fast and sharp, you have to rewind a bit to hear the joke that ran while you were laugh­ing your ass off. (“30 Rock” did that, too, and they’re sim­i­lar in their mock­u­men­tary style.) Main play­ers in the show are Cam (Eric Ston­estreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Fer­gu­son) rais­ing an Asian daugh­ter who’s about as dead­pan and un­like her fa­thers as they come. It made for a slow­burn among the more con­ser­va­tive view­ers who, if my fam­ily is ev­i­dence, came around af­ter re­al­iz­ing that not only is the show a riot, but it ac­tu­ally shows the nor­malcy of broad fam­ily dy­nam­ics. Sadly, this is the fi­nal sea­son. Sci-fi lovers, pre­pare for take­off. “The First” is per­haps the most pro­gres­sive show to hit the air­waves this fall, show­ing the strug­gles of a near fu­ture in which a queer, black, fe­male as­tro­naut (played by LisaGay Hamil­ton of “The Prac­tice”) is on a mis­sion to Mars. Tra­cie Thoms (of “Rent”) plays Hamil­ton’s love in­ter­est as our trou­bled as­tro­naut butts heads with the pow­ers that be to ac­cept just how im­por­tant fund­ing for so­cial pro­grams and the en­vi­ron­ment is. I’m stoked to re­port that “Shame­less” is mak­ing its re­turn soon, but also bummed that this is Emmy Ros­sum’s fi­nal sea­son. (She plays Fiona Gal­lagher, who’s kept a highly dys­func­tional fam­ily glued to­gether through so many per­sonal sac­ri­fices that she wound up goin’ off the deep end her­self. Un­der­stand­able.) If you’ve ever watched the show, you know it lives up to its name. The stakes keep climb­ing for ev­ery char­ac­ter, whether it’s drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion, hav­ing a child way too early, be­ing a men­tally un­sta­ble gay vet­eran dat­ing a trans­man, or run­ning a bar as an es­sen­tial hostage to a hot Rus­sian woman who likes to get it on with her in­ter­ra­cial un­der­lings, both male and fe­male. Trust: The show has so much go­ing on. Per­haps Ros­sum’s de­par­ture won’t hurt that bad. The writ­ing is solid, so we’ll see how it works. There’s no short­age of sexy in this dark, PNW-ori­ented take on the clas­sic Archie comics. (I know — Archie, sexy?) But I wouldn’t lie to you! Not only do we have the brood­ing Jug­head (played by a mar­velously aged Cole Sprouse), we’ve got Archie as a hot gin­ger ath­lete who’s also re­ally sen­si­tive and kind (played by K.J. Apa). Within the noir-genre spin, we’re in a world where mur­der, mys­tery, and same-sex re­la­tion­ships abound against a back­drop of a mostly rainy and some­what sin­is­ter town. Though its pop­u­lar­ity lies with the younger crowd, I feel this is an­other slow­burner that’ll take root with the 30-some­things, given a chance. Can you hang with a bi­sex­ual woman with a side-shave and im­pec­ca­ble suits? Good, be­cause “Madam Sec­re­tary” is drop­ping like a bomb this Fall and it’s bring­ing some heat. Known for be­ing the long­est-run­ning “Dude, if I’m not re­ally black, can some­body please tell my hair and my ass?” This, from our light-skinned fe­male pro­tag­o­nist from which the show’s ti­tle orig­i­nates. (Well, among a few other so­cio-po­lit­i­cal nu­ances, but in gen­eral, the sit­com’s pi­lot es­tab­lished the rib­bing at the “ish” of her skin — and had me guf­faw­ing the en­tire way through.) The act­ing is ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic and, at times, has an im­pro­vised feel that makes you a fly on the wall of a black fam­ily’s home in Amer­i­can subur­bia. The cam­era work is sharp, the writ­ing is gut-bust­ing, and the show’s in­clu­sion of a gay char­ac­ter (real-life les­bian Raven-Sy­moné) doesn’t feel con­trived. Last sea­son got a 100% rat­ing on Rot­ten Toma­toes. Not an easy feat and well de­served.

Septem­ber 14, 2018

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