Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Mindy Project' Shows Promise; 'Brickleberry' Pushes Punch Line

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Mindy Project' Shows Promise; 'Brickleberry' Pushes Punch Line

Article excerpt

NBC has already premiered its Tuesday night shows, and now Fox is up with the return of "New Girl" (8 and 9 tonight) and the debut of "Ben and Kate" and "The Mindy Project." Plus, Comedy Central introduces the animated comedy "Brickleberry."

'The Mindy Project'

There's something so likable about Mindy Kaling that even though the pilot for her new series "The Mindy Project" (9:30 tonight, WPGH) underwhelms, there's also reason for optimism.

Ms. Kaling, best known as a writer/actor on "The Office" (she played perpetual teenager Kelly Kapoor), wrote "The Mindy Project," in which she stars as Dr. Mindy Lahiri, who has her professional life mostly together. But her personal life is a mess.

Viewers meet her after a night of drunken bicycling following her efforts to disrupt an ex-boyfriend's wedding. In her toast, Mindy refers to her ex's new wife as "the Serbian bagel girl" (she used to sell bagels at a hospital cafe) and wonders aloud, "By the way, are we 100 percent sure she's not a war criminal?"

Flashbacks depict Mindy as a child who grew up on romantic comedy movies, which have set her up with unrealistic expectations about adult relationships. But she continues to give it her all, including during a date with a new suitor (Ed Helms, "The Office"). It doesn't go according to plan.

"Maybe I won't get married," Mindy says afterward. "Maybe I'll do one of those 'Eat, Pray, Love' things. Ugh, no, I don't want to pray. Forget it, I'll die alone."

She's needy and selfish, prone to dramatic flights of fancy (and rage) but also charming in her wisecracks, inappropriate requests and amusing observations ("There are different episodes of this?" she asks with disdain when a co-worker introduces her to "Deadliest Catch").

Tonight's pilot is not as consistently funny as one might hope, and Mindy's flightiness could turn off some viewers, but she and the show are amusing enough to warrant watching.

The pilot introduces a potentially strong supporting cast of characters who are barely developed so far, including a mousy secretary (Zoe Jarman, "Huge"), a best friend (Anna Camp, "The Good Wife," "True Blood"), a slightly out-of-it older doctor (Stephen Tobolowsky, "Glee") and two young male doctors (Chris Messina and Ed Weeks), who may or may not be potential romantic partners for Mindy.

"New Girl," which "Mindy Project" is paired with, didn't arrive fully baked either but eventually developed into a must-see treat. Evidence suggests "The Mindy Project" has the potential to follow a similar path.

'Ben and Kate'

Viewers who suffer fools gladly may enjoy "Ben and Kate." Those who don't will merely suffer through this new Fox sitcom (8:30 tonight, WPGH) about siblings.

Ben Fox (Nat Faxon, "Bad Teacher") is the irresponsible, annoying older brother who never grew up and frequently shows up on the doorstep of his sister, Kate (Dakota Johnson, daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith), a single mom to daughter Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones). …

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