‘Connecting’ tries quarantine comedy
Creating television while observing social distance is difficult. And that’s perhaps the reason why “Connecting” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) may represent the “best” we can hope for during this peculiar period, which is a little sad.
As the title implies, it’s about a group of youngish friends sharing jokes and concerns via Zoomlike apps. The series was produced entirely on the iPhones of each cast member. While the production values are DIY, the jokes and situations are scripted.
The sitcom aspect ensures, or rather insists, that nearly all of the jokes and situations concern a very defined and meticulously diverse group of young adults. This has been territory for sitcoms, particularly NBC sitcoms, since the advent of “Seinfeld.” But even that show made great comic use of the characters’ parents and their extended circle of retired neighbors. Too many sitcoms created in the decades since have depicted 20- and 30-somethings as if they dwell on their own special planet.
Limiting a Zoom comedy to the usual “Friends” demographic seems to be a missed opportunity. The most revealing and humorous aspects of video chats are when unsuspecting family members barge into the picture. The best example of that took place well before COVID, when the since-nicknamed “BBC Dad” had his report on a Korean crisis photobombed by his toddler daughter.
On the other hand, it’s difficult to “script” such spontaneity. Bottom line: Blending the dreariness of social distancing with the phoniness of scripted sitcoms is not a winning combination.
› A chef makes confections from a “cursed” cookbook on the 16th season premiere of “Good Eats” (9 p.m., Food, TV-G), entitled “The House That Dripped Chocolate.”
› A young man (Giovanni Ribisi) joins an unscrupulous brokerage firm targeting naive investors in the 2000 drama “Boiler Room” (8 p.m., Sho2), written and directed by Ben Younger and featuring a game cast including Vin Diesel, Nia Long, Ben Affleck, Tom Everett Scott, Ron Rifkin and Jamie Kennedy. Part of an evening of movies about young men taking legal and
moral shortcuts on their way to quick riches, including “Easy Money” (6:55 p.m., MoMax), “Rounders” (9 p.m., MoMax) and “Goodfellas” (7 p.m., Paramount, TV-14).
› Seth Myers takes his “Closer Look Thursday” ( 8: 30 p. m., NBC, TV-14) segment to prime time. For the uninitiated, he offers a live rumination on the most recent events in the presidential race, now down to its final “unscripted” weeks.
› The Chicago Bears host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8 p.m., Fox).
› The Time Lord travels on a new episode of “Doctor Who” (8 p.m., BBC America).
› A chimney fire almost consumes the house on the 10th season premiere of “Alaska: The Last Frontier” (8 p.m., Discovery, TV-14).