Thursdays, 9:30pm, Fox
Captive audience: Law & Order fans; people with hard-assed but lovable dads; people who didn’t have hard-assed but lovable dads—but wished they had.
Moment of truth: Here we go again with another sitcom set in the not-too-distant past, where an adult narrator takes us back to his not-so-sweet early years. What separates this show from the rest of the pack is that it features former Law & Order: SVU cop Christopher Meloni as the ball-busting but still-loving dad who is always on the case of the narrator’s younger self (Connor Buckley) in the early ‘90s. While Meloni is amusingly no-nonsense, I’m just glad someone found a steady, decent role for former Daily Show correspondent Rachael Harris, who plays the mom on the show.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy.
Sundays, 10pm, HBO
Captive audience: Computer nerds; Office Space fans; people who just can’t deal with The Big Bang Theory anymore.
Moment of truth: Beavis & Butthead/King of the Hill mastermind Mike Judge returns to TV with a live-action sitcom that’s more in line with his satirical, live-action movies. This show follows a crew of up-and-coming geeks as they attempt to launch a startup with an algorithm that everyone wants to get their geeky little hands on. Thankfully, the show is funny enough to keep you tuned in even when the techno jargon flies way over your head. Also, unlike The Big Bang Theory, it features characters you won’t get fed the fuck up with the minute you meet them.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy.
Patton Oswalt: Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time
Sundays, 10pm, Comedy Central
Captive audience: Alt-comedy nerds; middle-aged people who hate hipsters; folks who wish The Comedians of Comedy would do a reunion tour.
Moment of truth: In his latest stand-up special, one of the funniest comics out there is surprisingly subdued—and it’s a bit off-putting. Now in his 40s with a daughter in the house, Oswalt seems more serene on stage, as he tells anecdotes about how he’s not pissed at Nickelback anymore and how easy it is selling out and playing casino gigs, full of drunks who just yell his credits at him. This special doesn’t pack a heavy a wallop as Oswalt’s previous specials, which were full of his patented geek ire. But Oswalt continues to be a clever, self-aware comic, ready to call bullshit— even on himself.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phl-emmy.
In Memoriam: David Brenner