I recently compared several similar-themed shows to see how they measured up against one another. Here’s a look at how, in one reviewer’s opinion anyway, six more shows compare.
Battle of the musicals: NBC’s “Smash” vs. Fox’s “Glee”
The soapy drama “Smash” centers around efforts to bring a musical about Marilyn Monroe to Broadway. “American Idol” runner-up Katharine McPhee plays the straight-from-Iowa rookie with the big voice, while Megan Hilty plays the veteran who nabbed the title role (and a tryst with the director). I wanted to love this show. Judging by the nonstop plugs, NBC wanted me to, too. There are moments to enjoy, mostly when Hilty gets catty, McPhee sings or Anjelica Huston encounters her ex. But it is, frankly, a little dull (I find myself fast-forwarding every Debra Messing scene now) , and their idea of stunt casting is Nick Jonas. Really?
“Glee” stumbles, too. Sometimes, it seems less a show and more a plug for iTunes downloads. Still, it often hits the high notes. The “West Side Story” episode was incredibly moving, and it was heartbreaking when Rachel got slushied by an ex-boyfriend in an early episode. And I loved the Britney Spears episode, because Brittany got so much screen time. The story arc about bullying, which lead to a suicide attempt in the winter finale, was first-rate, and any scene with Kurt and his father shines, as does the romance between Kurt and Blaine, my favorite “Glee” couple. All this doesn’t even take into account the very funny Jane Lynch. So even if a third of the episodes miss the mark, the other two-thirds more than compensate.
Winner: “Glee,” in a first-round knockout.
Battle of the matchmakers: Bravo’s “Love Broker” vs. “Millionaire Matchmaker”
As if there is a need for not one but two shows about matchmakers (on the same network, no less), “Love Broker” recently premiered on Monday nights. I admit it… I’ve watched whole episodes (as in, more than one) of “Millionaire Matchmaker,” and I forced myself to at least sample “Love Broker.” It’s like what I’ve told my kids about eating Brussel sprouts: How will you know if you don’t like them if you don’t try them first? How to tell these two shows apart: “Broker” stars an abrasive blonde dealing with singles who are without mates for a reason , “Matchmaker” an abrasive brunette doing the same thing in L.A. and New York. See, totally different shows. (Bravo isn’t alone in TLC brings viewers both “My Strange Addiction” and its new entry, “Crazy Obsessions.”)
Winner: The only real winners are those who skip both these shows
Battle of the monsters: “Being Human” vs. AMC’s “The Walking Dead”
It sounds like the setup to a joke: A ghost, a werewolf and a vampire walk into a Boston apartment. “Being Human” deals with three roommates: Aidan (Sam Witwer), who works at a hospital, the blood bank being the vampire equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet; Josh (Sam Huntington), a werewolf who shunned his family when he started shape-shifting; and Sally (Meghan Rath), the bride-to-be who took a tumble in her apartment and is doomed now to occupy it as a ghost. It’s not easy being “normal” when you’re a monster, but that’s what drives this tortured trio. It doesn’t always go according to plan. Though Aidan, for example, fights his nature, he did slip and snack on a co-worker, and he is constantly tested by vampire leader Bishop, who wants to lure Aidan back to the dark side. Based on a U.K. series, “Being Human” blends the mythology with real-world drama. But it also has some witty dialogue.
While “Being Human” is about monsters yearning to live as humans, “The Walking Dead” is about humans adjusting to life with monsters. Sunday was the season finale for “Walking Dead,” which means it’s a long slog until the next season for fans. For the uninitiated, though, it makes this the perfect time to catch up on seasons one and two. Based on a graphic novel, this drama takes place in a world where “walkers” (a.k.a. zombies) can infect you with a single bite. These undead friends and neighbors may be slow and stupid, but they’re sneaky and, it appears, absolutely everywhere. In other words, it’s not the kind of world where you’d want to stray far from the herd. Unlike “Being Human,” there is little levity to break up the darkness, which is understandable since former lawman Rick (Andrew Lincoln), wife Laurie (Sarah Wayne Callies) and other members of their group are trying to just stay alive. I won’t divulge any of the recent shockers for those who haven’t caught up, but I will say “Dead” doesn’t pull punches, and the twists keep fans on edge and enthralled. But the shocks aren’t what make this show… it’s the moral complexities of contemplating life in a world where the old rules no longer apply. What would you do to keep your family from becoming a zombie snack?
Winner: It isn’t even close. Though “Being Human” is good, “The Walking Dead” is amazing.
— Heather Chavez