Fall TV Preview: A TO Z

a-to-z

Starring: Cristin Milioti (“How I Met Your Mother”), Ben Feldman (“Mad Men”), Lenora Crichlow (“Back in the Game”), Christina Kirk (“Girls”), Henry Zebrowski (“Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell”) and Katey Sagal (“Sons of Anarchy”)

Genre: Single-camera comedy

Premiere Date: Thursday, October 2, 9:30 p.m., NBC

Direct Competition: Thursday Night Football/”The McCarthys” (CBS), “Gracepoint” (Fox), “Scandal” (ABC), “Reign” (CW)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): It’s love at first sight for Andrew and Zelda. It’s “How I Met Your Mother,” except it’s not.

Initial Reaction: This is your typical romantic comedy, but a good one at that!

Conclusion: The comparisons to ‘HIMYM’ are inevitable. Andrew is a romantic at heart (“Classic Schmosby”), while Zelda starts off afraid of commitment, which is directly tied to her parents (á la Robin Scherbatsky). Sagal also steps in for Bob Saget as the omniscient narrator. The thing is, that’s okay. There was a point in time when ‘HIMYM’ wasn’t frowned upon, and those early years aren’t any less fantastic despite what became of the show in its later seasons. Milioti was the best part of season nine, which made it utterly difficult to accept the route taken by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays to close their show. She’s every bit as delightful in “A to Z.”

I’ll be damned if you come across a more charming new program this fall. The chemistry between Milioti and Feldman is instantaneous, and it’s a joy to watch them in scenes together. Crichlow, one of the bright spots of last season’s “Back in the Game,” is utilized even better here as the gullible best friend to Zelda, while Zebrowski does a good job playing what could have been an obnoxious role with the right amount of restraint.

“A to Z” has a tough road ahead if it wants to survive the fall. It’ll premiere against Thursday night football and “Scandal,” with the latter being its most difficult obstacle for female viewership. “The McCarthys” and “Gracepoint” seem like non-threats.

Unlike other fall comedies, “A to Z” actually made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. And with it set to lead into “Parenthood,” it’s guaranteed a spot on my already hectic Thursday night viewing schedule. I look forward to following Andrew and Zelda’s love story for however long it lasts.

Watch Live, DVR, or Skip?: Watch this one. Please.

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