LORI RACKL: What to watch on television this week
By LORI RACKL TV Critic February 17, 2014 7:08PM
ABOUT A BOY -- Pilot -- Pictured: (l-r) Benjamin Stockham as Marcus, David Walton as Will -- (Photo by: Jordin Althaus/NBC)
Updated: February 17, 2014 7:08PM
“ABOUT A BOY” (Preview 10 p.m. Saturday after the Olympics, regular time 8 p.m. Tuesdays on WMAQ-Channel 5): First it was a best-selling book. Then it was a Hugh Grant movie. Now it’s an NBC sitcom. No wonder the storyline feels familiar. An eccentric kid (Benjamin Stockham, “1600 Penn”) looking for a father figure finds one in his man-child neighbor, Will, played with the right amount of humor and heart by David Walton (“Bent”). Minnie Driver (“Good Will Hunting”) is the high-maintenance single mom destined for romance with womanizing Will. Let’s hope the writers put that off as long as possible (better yet, never) and make the most of Will’s funny married friends, the talented Al Madrigal (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) and “Bridesmaids” writer Annie Mumolo. Rating: ★★★
“THE AMAZING RACE” (7 p.m. Sunday, WBBM-Channel 2): One of television’s best reality competitions returns for a new season stocked with familiar faces. The all-star edition brings back some old favorites — the Harlem Globetrotter’s “Big Easy” and “Flight Time” and the cowboys from Oklahoma — as well as some teams we love to hate. I’m looking at you, Afghanimals. They’re among the 11 pairs in a sprint around the globe that will find them rappelling down waterfalls in Malaysia, fighting gladiators in Rome and — the hardest part of all — listening to Natalie and Nadiya call each other Twinny.
“DOWNTON ABBEY” (8 p.m. Sunday, WTTW-Channel 11): This year’s installment of the British period drama draws to a close with a 90-minute finale that, like much of the season, is a yawner. Shirley MacLaine is back with her rich, American playboy son (Paul Giamatti) in tow, but even the Yanks seem subdued in this sleepwalker of a season-ender built around a boring coming-out ball for cousin Rose. Writer Julian Fellowes had better find a way to recapture the “Downton” of old, or we’re going to look back on Matthew Crawley’s fatal car crash as the moment the show died, too. Rating: ★★½
“GROWING UP FISHER” (Preview 9:30 p.m. Sunday after the Olympics closing ceremony, regular time 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays on WMAQ-Channel 5): This miscast, tone-deaf family sitcom fails on multiple fronts, the biggest being J.K. Simmons’ nonsensical character: a lawyer and father of two who’s managed to hide his blindness from just about everyone. (Dad can’t see but he’s driving a car! Hilarious!) Dad’s getting an incredibly amicable divorce from Mom (Jenna Elfman), who’s regressing into a teenager. The comedy would need to be irreverent and edgy for this to have the slightest shot at success. Instead, it goes for a sappy, feel-good vibe with a “Wonder Years”-like voiceover by Jason Bateman. It’s based on creator DJ Nash’s (“Up All Night”) actual childhood, but the element of truth doesn’t make it any less absurd — or any more worthy of being a TV show. P.S.: NBC is rolling it out after the Olympics closing ceremony, which worked out really well for “Animal Practice.” Keep that #NBCFail hashtag handy. Rating: ★