Sure they’re new, but these series offer that little extra spark for awards consideration
The road from Emmys to Golden Globes used to be so sedate. If a show won hardware in the fall, it was likely to get attention in the winter. But these days, shows that weren’t even a gleam in Emmy’s eye are in the running for the Globes. While the latest Emmy winners are certain to make a splash, don’t count out the new kids in town.
Here’s a rundown of three fresh-faced action-comedies — one set in the past, one with visitors from the future, the third fighting the alien-infested present — and the impressions they’ve made so far, on the critics and the stars.
FUTURE MAN | HULU
The setup: Josh Hutcherson (“The Hunger Games” franchise) plays Josh Futterman, a hapless janitor turned equally hapless possible savior of the planet. An obsessive gamer in his downtime, one fateful night he wins an unwinnable video game, only to learn it wasn’t a game — it was a recruiting tool. Two warriors from the future (Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson) appear, and Josh’s world — not to mention the real one — will never be the same. As one might expect from executive producers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen and creators Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir, the brain trust behind the film “Sausage Party,” “Future Man” is similarly funny, obscene, action-packed, and, craziest of all, deep.
The reviews: “Laughing out loud won’t be an option; it will be a virtual certainty,” writes Ed Bark, a longtime TV critic for the Dallas Morning News who is continuing his coverage of television on his blog, Uncle Barky’s Bytes. “‘Future Man’ has a firm grasp of what it is and where it’s going.” But Jessica Shaw of Entertainment Weekly likens the show to “a fun game you can immerse yourself in, but not one that goes to the next level.”
The scoop: In an unusual move for Hulu, all 13 episodes were released Nov. 14 for maximum binge-ability. Star and producer Hutcherson says the show is so dense, it requires close watching. It is also the most outrageous work he’s done. “I did things on the show that I never thought I’d do in my life, let alone on a camera that’s going to be immortalized,” he says without revealing plot points. In scenes set in the 1980s, “I had a wardrobe that lasted out the episode that I don’t want my grandma to see. And we do some trickery with prosthetics.”
GHOSTED | FOX
The setup: Created by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten, “Ghosted” stars Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”) as a scientist who believes in the existence of supernatural forces, and Craig Robinson (“The Office”) as a skeptical cop, when the two are roped into joining a secret government organization that battles paranormal enemies. As the odd couple tries to make sense of their new reality, they bounce off each other with the charm of a seasoned comic team.
The reviews: The San Francisco Chronicle’s David Wiegand calls it “delightfully loopy… it shows you can make a crazy idea work if you have the right cast, writer and director on the same page.” But Hank Steuver of the Washington Post suggests it “needs more ‘Scooby-Doo’ and less ‘X-Files,’ perhaps.”
The scoop: Usually cast as the straight man, Scott relishes sharing those duties with Robinson. “The great thing about working with Craig, and these two characters having their own idiosyncrasies, is that we get to hand each other the ‘straight man’ ball,” Scott says. “We can throw it back and forth.”
Then there’s the action. Growing up in the ’80s, Scott’s favorite movies were action-comedy hybrids like “Trading Places” and “48 Hours,” for their ability to strike “this really fun, extremely grounded overall tone with this crazy stuff happening in the middle of it.” That’s the mix that “Ghosted” is going for, “so getting to jump in to do some of this action stuff is so beyond wish fulfillment for me.”
GLOW | NETFLIX
The setup: GLOW is an acronym for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a TV series in the 1980s that gave wrestling fans the chance to watch women engage in the highly choreographed battles that were the terrain of men. The Netflix series, created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch and executive produced by Jenji Kohan and set in 1985, takes the source material and runs, dives and hammerlocks with it. Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin play erstwhile best friends, and Marc Maron plays the manipulative director who turns them into wrestling enemies.
The reviews: The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum raves that “GLOW’s” “a carbonated blast, 10 episodes of pure Silly String joy.” Ben Travers of Indiewire calls the show “upbeat, enthusiastic, and empowering,” adding it “deserves all the love and respect thrust upon it.” But Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture is less impressed with the big action, noting, “the series is at its best in smaller, more observation-driven moments.”
The scoop: Brie is unsparing in her portrayal of Ruth Wilder, an unsuccessful actress who betrayed her best friend and last shred of self-worth, only to gain a sense of purpose in the wrestling ring. As Zoya the Destroya, she’s a powerful commie-pinko Russian villainess. The actress clearly loves all of it, from the character-driven plot to the explosive moves. She and her cast mates do their own stunts, which is “definitely the most exhilarating part of the job,” she says. “I get to unleash a part of myself that I probably haven’t tapped into since theater school… I’ve never been filled with so much adrenaline.”
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