After this week, broadcast network fall series premieres begin to taper off, but before they do there are two more nights of multiple premieres of new comedies and dramas.
Given the quality of some of these shows, viewer discretion is most assuredly advised.
'Super Fun Night'
It's never a good sign when a network pulls the pilot of a series and runs a subsequent episode first, which is what ABC will do with "Super Fun Night" (9:30 tonight, WTAE). A sense of setting up the story and introducing the situation and characters inevitably gets lost when the pilot gets skipped.
That's not a huge issue for "Super Fun Night," and in this episode, star Rebel Wilson, who is Australian, does a better job of maintaining an American accent than she did in the original pilot. A bigger problem is that "Super Fun Night" still isn't all that funny.
After awkward attorney Kimmie Boubier (Rebel Wilson) got a promotion at work in the unaired pilot, her friends Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira) and Marika (Lauren Ash) worried it would ruin their Friday Fun Nights. But Kimmie promised them a weekly Super Fun Night out on the town instead.
Kimmie has eyes for British attorney Richard (Kevin Bishop), and the two form a chummy workplace bond, but in tonight's episode Kimmie finds herself at odds with new co-worker Kendall (Kate Jenkinson) for Richard's attention.
So why did ABC go with episode two over the pilot? Perhaps because Ms. Wilson is best known for her roles in the college a cappella comedy "Pitch Perfect" and for a role in "Bridesmaids."
The episode now airing as the premiere features a karaoke sing-off, and Ms. Wilson's "Bridesmaids" co-star, Matt Lucas, appears in a red wig in a short cameo. These scenes connect most directly to Ms. Wilson's film success and ABC executives may hope these elements help viewers connect to the sitcom. Nice try, but it seems unlikely to work.
Ms. Wilson also wrote "Super Fun Night," and she seems to find Kimmie losing her clothing particularly funny as this gag happened in the original pilot and is repeated in tonight's episode.
The balance of the humor focuses on Kimmie's awkwardness and the nerdiness of her friends; the show's closing scene features Kimmie attempting to pull on a pair of Spanx. It's more pathetic than funny.
Certainly there's a niche audience for nerd-girl humor, but it's probably not going to be found in strong enough numbers to support a sitcom airing at 9:30 Wednesday on ABC after mainstream hit "Modern Family." If ABC couldn't make "Happy Endings" or "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" work in this time period, it's a head-scratcher to think it would waste another opportunity with yet another comedy with similarly limited appeal.
There was a time when NBC's remake of the 1967-75 Raymond Burr series "Ironside" would have felt kind of new and updated. Unfortunately, that time was 15-20 years ago. Now the notion of exploring the life of Det. Robert Ironside (Carnegie Mellon University grad Blair Underwood, "L.A. Law") through flashbacks to the shooting that left him in a wheelchair seems extremely old school. The relationship between Ironside and his ex-partner, Gary (Brent Sexton, "The Killing"), is somewhat interesting but everything else in "Ironside" (10 tonight) is a well-worn cop show cliche, from Ironside's tough guy routine to the dialogue.
Viewers first meet the detective as he's seemingly violating the civil rights of a suspected kidnapper, beating the guy up in the back seat of a car while another police officer shouts, "You have the right to remain silent ..." from a few feet away outside the vehicle.
"Hey, man, you really a cripple?" the perp eventually asks.
"You tell me," Ironside replies with requisite, practiced seriousness.
Moments like this are so bad they are almost laughable.
A spinoff of "The Vampire Diaries," "The Originals" (9 p.m. Thursday before moving to its regular 8 p.m. Tuesday time slot next week, WPCW) has its work cut out for it in its pilot. It must stand on its own and satisfy "Vampire Diaries" fans who consider coming along for the ride. That's not an easy task.
But as a viewer who hasn't tuned into "Vampire Diaries" since season two -- its fifth season premiere is at 8 p.m. Thursday -- "The Originals" deserves credit for a mostly clear setup for newcomers.
The episode begins with a flashback to the arrival of siblings Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Rebekah (Claire Holt) and Elijah (Daniel Gillies) as they first visited New Orleans 300 years ago.
"We're vampires, darling, the original vampires," Rebekah tells a poor infantryman who boards their ship in waters off the coast of Louisiana. A later flashback attempts to further flesh out the family history and clarify that Klaus is a vampire-werewolf hybrid.
Even after this it's not entirely clear how these three are original vampires -- just by drinking their mother's blood? -- but, whatever, just accept it and move on.
Nattily attired Elijah is the sensible member of the triumvirate while Klaus is forever out for blood. Klaus is in a tiff with Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), Klaus' former protege, who rules New Orleans and has some sort of pact with the town's witches.
"What's mine is yours but it is mine," Marcel tells Klaus. "My home, my family, my rules!"
(At one point Marcel is seen talking to a character whose presence may turn out to be a shock to "Diaries" fans, but I had no idea who she was.)
"The Originals" also introduces a nature's loophole pregnancy that gives the series a useful first-season trajectory that also plays into an overall theme of family that's at the heart of the show. It also helps that the pregnant character is a hoot who gets the best dialogue.
"Your family is legendary, your brother is psycho, and I slept with him," the pregnant woman says. "Classic me."
Yes, there's a fair bit of vampire, werewolf and witch rule-setting and mumbo-jumbo to wade through, but only viewers who are up for such blather are likely to watch "The Originals" anyway.
Perhaps best of all, the first episode ends with a shocker turn that's sure to spur viewers to come back for episode two.tvradio
A version of this story first appeared in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. TV writer Rob Owen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.