It’s been a pretty meager year for network sitcoms. And if NBC’s sneak peek at “1600 Penn” is any indication, 2013 won’t bring much relief.
One of the few new comedies to stand out has been “The Mindy Project” on Fox, a spirited spin on “Bridget Jones’s Diary” that stars Mindy Kaling as a 30-ish gynecologist with a burgeoning practice and a shambles of a social life. She’s slightly overweight and prone to sleep with the wrong men, and she’s willing to tell us all about it as she vows (nearly every day) to turn her life around.
Her character here is both different and essentially linked to Kelly Kapoor of “The Office.” Kaling’s Kapoor also was linked to the wrong guy and prone to fantasy and self-delusion. Both characters play with the ethnic stereotype of Asians as straight-A students, workaholics and briskly efficient professionals. (Kaling is an Indian-American, born Vera Chokalingam.) On “The Office,” Kelly was the resident airhead and pop culture junkie, and on “The Mindy Project,” Kaling dares to explore the messy (and very human) underside of a doctor’s life while never tipping into the contrived soap operatics of “Grey’s Anatomy” or other medical melodramas.
For the record, Kaling didn’t have to look far for her character’s inspiration. Her mother is a gynecologist.
Tonight, Fox offers viewers four chances to make a habit of “The Mindy Project” with four repeat episodes: a bleak Christmas surprise (7 p.m.), a night on the town (7:30 p.m.), a minor matter (8 p.m.) and Mindy gets all fowled up (8:30 p.m.).
Tonight’s other highlights:
• Jenna’s terrible publicity concerns Liz on “30 Rock” (7 p.m., NBC).
• Charlie agonizes over the Little Red-Haired Girl in the holiday special “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown” (7 p.m., ABC).
• Dwight celebrates his heritage at the Christmas party on “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC).
• Meredith needs Heather’s help on “Grey’s Anatomy” (8 p.m., ABC).
• Tammy II ruins Ron’s big night on “Parks and Recreation” (8:30 p.m., NBC).
• A broker’s apparent heroin overdose doesn’t wash with Holmes on “Elementary” (9 p.m., CBS).
• A tycoon client seems to unravel on “Scandal” (9 p.m., ABC).