Millennials and their newfangled technology - can't live with them, can't live without them.
The Great Indoors, a comedy from Mike Gibbons (Tosh. 2.0), stars Joel McHale (Community) as Jack, the adventurous star reporter for an outdoors magazine who's brought in from the field to manage a digital staff of twentysomethings when the publication becomes online-only.
It doesn't take long for his new co-workers - played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Ko, and Shaun Brown - to demonstrate the possibly outsized sense of their own worth for which the latest generation to be scorned by its elders is supposedly known (and for Jack to behave like one of the most scornful of those elders).
Given that millennials also are known for not watching a lot of broadcast TV, any pain inflicted by The Great Indoors' too-easy jokes about their participation trophies, need for a fun workplace, and lack of real-world information (no, Patagonia's not just the clothing store "like three blocks away") probably won't be theirs.
So let's not worry about them.
Let's cringe instead for McHale's Jack, whose cluelessness about the world he's returned to highlights the tension in many workplaces between so-called digital natives and colleagues who can't afford to be left behind. By next week's episode, it's clear Jack has as much to learn from his co-workers as he has to teach and that The Great Indoors has at least the potential to grow into something better.
But it might not be worth that second look if not for Stephen Fry.
The legendary English comedian plays Roland, the magazine's eccentric founder and the father of Jack's new boss-and-potential-love-interest, Brooke (Susannah Fielding). And whether Roland's cuddling a bear cub in Thursday's pilot or joking with Jack about the best ways to drink your own urine, he, and his chemistry with McHale, are the least tired things about a show that's still finding its way in a brave-ish new world.
If only a generation gap was the biggest issue facing the characters on CBS' new medical drama Pure Genius.
Produced by Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights), it stars Dermot Mulroney (Shameless) as Dr. Walter Wallace, a middle-aged surgeon recruited by young tech billionaire James Bell (Augustus Prew, The Borgias) to join his cutting-edge hospital, Bunker Hill, where the resources are seemingly endless, the patient bills non-existent, and nothing is considered hopeless.
Except, perhaps, Bell's crush on another member of his staff, Dr. Zoe Brockett (Odette Annable, House).
Wallace has no trouble spotting his young would-be boss' attraction to Brockett because he's apparently experienced the kind of human interactions Bell's been too busy being a geek to explore. Which means, for those keeping score at home, that brilliant surgeons now rank above tech geniuses in TV measures of emotional intelligence.
Wallace is also there, presumably, to provide contrast to Bell's puppy-like enthusiasm (I found the character annoying, but your mileage may vary) and to inject the occasional dose of reality into the hospital founder's world. Bell, who has no medical training, is confident enough of his tech prowess to promise more than any medical facility can currently deliver.
The science behind Bell's confidence isn't complete fantasy, according to Katims, although the producer acknowledged that it's not yet available.
That's great - at least for those who aren't facing imminent death from causes that happen to interest the writers of Pure Genius - but that lack of immediacy also means the stakes aren't as high as they are for most medical dramas, even if the graphics are much, much better.
The Great Indoors, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, CBS