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'Whitney' and pals return to NBC on Wednesday

Courtesy photo
Whitney Cummings and Chris D'Elia star in Cummings' self-titled sitcom, which is back for season two at 8 p.m. Wednesday, replacing the canceled "Animal Practice." (Photo by Jordin Althaus/NBC)
Courtesy photo The two-hour "Burn Notice" midseason premiere begins at 9 p.m. Thursday on USA. The spy drama stars (from left) Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Donovan and Coby Bell, plus Gabrielle Anwar and Sharon Gless. (Photo by Glenn Watson/USA Network)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Whitney" was supposed to return to NBC on Oct. 19, along with "Community." Instead, both were held, ostensibly for NBC to concentrate on promoting its new shows, but really to have shows in its back pocket if any of those new shows failed.

And "Animal Practice" has, which is why "Whitney" returns for its sophomore season at 8 p.m. Wednesday. ("Community" doesn't return until Feb. 7.)

There is vitriol across the Internet toward star and creator Whitney Cummings and, thus, by extension, the show. I'm not familiar with her stand-up, so I can't speak to that, but I like the show. It's not in my top five sitcoms or anything, but it's an enjoyable half hour.

Part of the problem with its reception, I think, is its title. Calling it "Whitney" positions it as a show about her, which isn't great marketing when so many people seem to violently hate her. Really, though, it's more of an ensemble comedy.

In addition to her, there's Chris D'Elia as her boyfriend, Alex, as well as Rhea Seehorn, Dan O'Brien and Zoe Lister Jones as their friends -- divorcee Roxanne, womanizer Mark and Lily, who's fresh off a broken engagement. Maulik Pancholy (Jack's assistant on "30 Rock") played Lily's ex-fiancée but won't return this season; comedian Tone Bell joins the cast as a new friend of Alex.

Cummings and D'Elia have great chemistry as the central couple, and D'Elia is charming enough to carry them through the rough patches when Whitney gets too obnoxious. Seehorn and O'Brien walk the fine line between playing and overplaying their characters, but, for the most part, they strike the right tone and are just as fun on their own as they are with Whitney and Alex.

My gold standard for laugh out loud comedy these days happens to be another ensemble comedy about urban pals: ABC's "Happy Endings" (which you need to start watching if you're not already!). While "Whitney" is miles away from that, it's still a decent show and one that I think got written off too quickly last year. If you're a sitcom fan like I am, why not give it a chance when it returns?

•••

Series premieres: "Bada Bling Brides," 10 p.m. Thursday, TLC (bridal shop specializing in Italian events); "Wedding Band," 10 p.m. Saturday, TBS (comedy about friends in a wedding band); "Chainsaw Gang," 10 p.m. Saturday, CMT (chainsaw artists); "Big Texas Heat," 10:30 p.m. Saturday, CMT (small town police force); "Catfish: The TV Show," 11 p.m. Monday, MTV (meeting online loves in real life); "Frontier Earth," 8 p.m. Tuesday, Animal Planet (elusive animals in remote locations); "Mankind: the Story of All of Us," 9 p.m. Tuesday, History (the history of mankind).

Season premieres: "Redneck Island," 9 p.m. Saturday, CMT; "Finding Bigfoot," 10 p.m. Sunday, Animal Planet; "Doomsday Preppers," 9 p.m. Tuesday, National Geographic; "Million Dollar Decorators," 10 p.m. Monday, Bravo.

Returning: "Glee," 9 p.m. today, Fox; "Burn Notice," 9 p.m. Thursday, USA.

Season finales: "Upstairs Downstairs," 9 p.m. Sunday, PBS; "Breaking Amish," 9 p.m. Sunday, TLC.

Specials: "Space Dive," 7 p.m. Sunday, National Geographic (Felix Baumgartner's record-setting jump); "Eddie Murphy: One Night Only," 10 p.m. Tuesday, Spike (tribute to the comedian).

Veteran's Day specials: "Tradition of Service," a documentary on the WV Legacy Project to preserve state veterans' stories, 9 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Sunday, PBS; "Band of Brothers" marathon, 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Spike; "National Salute to Veterans," 8 p.m. Sunday, PBS; "Veteran's Day 11.11.11," 8 p.m. Sunday, PBS2 ("day in the life" veterans' stories from Veteran's Day 2011).

Of note: Wil Wheaton guest stars on "The Big Bang Theory," 8 p.m. Thursday, CBS; Anne Hathaway hosts "Saturday Night Live," 11:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC; "Family Guy" airs its 200th episode, 9 p.m. Sunday, Fox; "Top Gear" looks at 50 years of Bond cars, 8:30 p.m. Monday, BBC America

W.Va. alert: The murder of Lewisburg's Tod McQuaid is featured on "Motives & Murders: Cracking the Case," 9 p.m. Saturday on Investigation Discovery; the Newkirk family of Charleston will appear on "Family Feud," 5:30 p.m. Monday, Fox.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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