Two new series this week feature hapless, if lovable, romantically challenged young men as heroes: the off-the-wall sitcom Man Seeking Woman, which premieres 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on FXX, and PBS's Grantchester, a classic British mystery about a lovelorn Anglican priest and amateur detective. It premieres 10 p.m. Sunday.
That's what Man Seeking Woman's sub-hero (he's not quite an antihero) Josh Greenberg (Jay Baruchel) asks his sister when he first claps eyes on his blind date.
Josh isn't insensitive. On the contrary, he's a little too sensitive for his own good.
It's just that his sister Liz (Britt Lower) has set him up with an actual troll (Raeanna Guitard). Liz is not amused. "Is that a problem?" she asks with disdain.
A cross between Friends and a Hammer horror film - with a dash of Mystery Science Theater 3000 thrown in - Man Seeking Woman takes the basic lonely-geeky-guy premise and blasts it into the sci-fantasy universe. Josh is a 27-year-old Bard graduate stuck in a dead-end job. His only happiness in life comes from his gorgeous girlfriend Maggie (Maya Erskine) and their pet lizard, Isaac Newton. His world collapses when Maggie dumps him. His BFF Mike (Eric André) tells him to go to bangin' clubs where he can pick up floozies. Instead, he wades cautiously into the dating pool.
The writers keep things going at a fast pace. Josh gets into one incredible misadventure after another. Everything is taken past the point of absurdity. When he manages the phone number of a woman he's just met on the train, he gets congratulatory calls from President Obama and is offered the MacArthur "genius" grant. When he can't figure out how to text the new girl for the first time, a war room convenes in which physicists and generals give him writing suggestions. In another episode, a demonic force takes over the knickknacks Maggie left at his place. An exorcist has to be called in.
The first season promises a parade of monsters and aliens as guest stars. Oh, and wait till you meet Maggie's rebound beau, who is fresh off the plane from Argentina. Here's a clue: His name is Adolf and he's about 126 years old.
One marvels at how the writers and actors keep each succeeding segment so fresh and surprising.
Is there a glut of British TV shows about crime-solving men of the cloth? The '70s gave us Kenneth More as G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown; then came Cadfael in the '90s, with Derek Jacobi as an Aristotelian Name of the Rose-ish crime-fighter. And in 2013, the BBC launched a remake of Father Brown starring Mark Williams.
Produced by the ITV network, Grantchester is set in the 1950s, as is the new Father Brown. But it's anything but stale or derivative.
Adapted from the series of novels by James Runcie, the series stars the dashing, tall, square-jawed, blond 29-year-old thesp James Norton (An Education, Restless) as Sidney Chambers, an Anglican vicar in a small idyllic village near Cambridge.
Sidney has an edge, and, since Anglicans do marry, he has a love life. Of sorts. It's clear he is deeply in love with his Cambridge University chum Amanda (Morven Christie), the daughter of a wealthy society man. She is expected to marry someone of her station. Sorry, vicar.
Father Brown solves murders despite the interference of the subpar Inspector Valentine. But Sidney of Grantchester becomes a sort of partner to the local copper, Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green). The pair butt heads in the first mystery. By its conclusion, they have become close friends.
Grantchester presents us with a man of the cloth who is angst-ridden, has a bit of a temper, deep intellectual curiosity, and passionate feelings for a member of the opposite sex. Sorry, Mr. Chesterton, but I think this time, Father Brown is outmatched.
Man Seeking Woman
Premieres 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on FXX.
Premieres 10 p.m. Sunday on PBS (WHYY-TV).