Matt Roush reviews The Winner with Rob Corddry
Fox, which does well with animated comedies, is overdue a live-action winner. The network may finally have found one in the unlikely form of a balding, bumbling, giggling, socially maladroit perpetual adolescent named Glen Abbott, who is also the season's most original comic hero.
Like Glen, The Winner (premiering Mar. 4 at 8:30 pm/ET) is deeply silly, endearingly sweet, a little creepy and undeniably weird. Told in flashbacks to 1994, this is the story of how, at the overripe age of 32, Glen (The Daily Show's Rob Corddry) awakens from life with Mom and Dad at home, where he has cultivated an unnatural fascination with the sitcom Wings.
New neighbors provide the catalyst for Glen's long-delayed coming of age, which he tells us in voice-over will lead him to become the richest man in Buffalo. Alison (the winsome Erinn Hayes), his childhood crush, is now a doctor and the single mom of 13-year-old Josh (the appealingly awkward Keir Gilchrist), who's as phobic and nerdy as Glen. Naturally, Josh and Glen become best buds (that's the creepy part).
Watching this boy and boy-man execute the comic rites of passage, which usually involves all sorts of anxiety regarding the mysterious opposite sex, is like The Wonder Years as told by Forrest Gump or Pee-wee Herman.
Glen's buoyant guilelessness, his giddy overgrown-kid excitement over everyday things like a road trip to Albany, makes him more lovable than icky. Even clichéd situations such as Glen unknowingly befriending a gay guy or being seduced by a former teacher become freshly funny through his warped, winning perspective.
Fox is giving The Winner a quick tryout, airing twice on Sundays for three weeks. Catch it while you can.
Old-fashioned doesn't have to mean old hat. In BBC America's robustly reenergized new Robin Hood series (Saturdays, 9 pm/ET), the whooshing sound effects during sword fights are state of the art. The 12th-century attitude is crisply modern, served up with a wink. (When someone declares "I shot the sheriff," he's told, "No, you shot the deputy.")
And yet old-fashioned virtues of altruism and swashbuckling heroism rule. They always have in this enduring legend of the noble-turned-outlaw who turns the tables on the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham with the help of his Merry Men — and, in this retelling,a few choice women.
Jonas Armstrong is a rakish young Robin and Lucy Griffiths a spirited freedom fighter of a Maid Marian. She scorns Robin's public bravado and scoffs at his romantic "drivel," yet she eagerly teams up with him against Keith Allen's cackling, hissably sadistic Sheriff.
"Aw, all hope lost?" taunts the Sheriff as he enacts one of his diabolical plots.
Not while the heroes of Sherwood Forest are on the job. It's good to have them all back.