I’ve watched an awful lot of crap in the last few days. I’ve been trying out new half-hour sitcoms trying to find something fresh.
Here are some of the new shows I have tried.
Running Wilde – It’s got Will Arnett. Will Arnett is very funny. He was very funny in a supporting role in Arrested Development. He was very funny in a supporting role in 30 Rock. Here he plays the lead. Turns out his brand of funny isn’t good for the lead. He’s too kooky. Too nuts. When your part requires you to be the most ridiculous character in any given scene, it’s hard to find the pathos necessary to win the audience over.
When you combine that with a back story that makes you a spoiled rich kid, you end up with one of the least sympathetic lead characters in sitcom history. Will Arnett as Steven Wilde is not likeable enough to sustain a situation comedy.
Keri Russell is also in it as the female lead. I don’t think she’s done comedy before. She turns out to have reasonable timing. Keri Russell is not horrible.
Peter Serafinowicz is also in it as Wilde’s equally wealthy and equally dim next-door neighbor. It’s a thankless role based around eye-liner and a hilarious Middle-Eastern accent. It is not cutting-edge comedy.
Running Wilde is brought to you by the team behind Arrested Development. Do not be fooled. This is no Arrested Development. I wanted to like Running Wilde. I did not succeed.
Mike & Molly – This is a sitcom about fat people. Mike is fat. Molly is fat. They hook up at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. Mike tries to appear casual when asking Molly out by leaning on the snack table. It collapses under his weight. I did not make that up.
Mike & Molly is appalling. It’s not that it’s not funny (it isn’t). It’s not that it’s crude (it is). It’s just so horrid and unpleasant that it’s hard to know who it’s aimed at. Do non-fat people enjoy laughing at fat people? If so should we encourage that by developing a primetime situation comedy around the concept? Alternatively, do plump people enjoy seeing their lives reflected as obese buffoons perpetually unlucky in love and life?
Melissa McCarthy plays Molly. I have seen her as a series regular in both Gilmore Girls and Samantha Who?. She was funny and engaging in both shows. In neither instance was her character’s size an issue. I think Ms McCarthy has done herself a huge disservice appearing in Mike & Molly. The show is unsure, rude and awful.
Better With You – I just had to go back and remind myself what this was. I watched it last night and it may well be the most forgettable 22 minutes in pilot history. It’s about three couples (there’s a new dynamic for a sitcom!).
- Mia and Casey – They’ve been together for less than two months
- Maddie and Ben – Maddie is Mia’s big sister. She has been with Ben for nine years
- Vicky and Joel – Mia and Maddie’s parents. They have been married for 35 years.
Star-wise, this is some low-wattage stuff here. Mia is played by Joanna Garcia. She’s fab. She’s young, she’s spunky, she’s full of vim. She charismas everyone else off the screen. Boyfriend Casey is a full-on surfer dude which is odd as the show appears to be set in Manhattan.
Maddie and Ben are generic New York 30somethings. A little uptight, a little neurotic with a typically unfeasible apartment. It’s all so blah. Even the title of the show is blah. See if you can remember it without glancing up two paragraphs. Nah, me neither.
$#*! My Dad Says – It’s pronounced “Bleep My Dad Says” which tells you everything you need to know about whether or not this show is going to be amusing. It’s based on the Twitter stream @shitmydadsays, which is a list of quotes compiled by Justin based on things Justin’s dad says. That’s right. It’s a sitcom based on a Twitter stream.
I’ve been following @shitmydadsays for a few months now. It’s pretty funny. Here are some examples of the “shit” that Justin’s dad says:
I wanted to see Detroit win. I’ve been there. It’s like God took a shit on a parking lot. They deserve some good news.
Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that.
Fine, let’s take a vote. Who wants fish for dinner?…Yeah, democracy ain’t so fun when it fucks you, huh?
I like the dog. If he can’t eat it, or fuck it, he pisses on it. I can get behind that.
I don’t know if Justin’s dad actually said any of that stuff but it’s bloody funny. Unfortunately this attempt at turning a series of 140-character, expletive-laden haikus of perfect disdain into a sitcom is a dull disaster. Part of the problem is the language. On Twitter, Justin’s dad is a poetic genius. On TV, he’s William Shatner. I love William Shatner, but he’s floundering here. This show should have been on Cable, not CBS. It should have swearing in it. It shouldn’t have any apologizing or touchy feely stuff.
The people responsible for adapting this project for TV have totally failed to grasp what makes it work as a Twitter stream. In the last few days since the show debuted, the stream has been remarkably quiet. Either Justin’s dad was too busy watching the news or, for the first time ever, he’s showing too much tact to comment.
Outsourced – It’s about an American who is sent to India to manage a call center. He’s a fish out of water. Cultures clash. Only by looking at ourselves through others’ eyes can we really see who we are. Doesn’t sound so bad does it?
Don’t kid yourself. It’s shocking. I’m pretty sure it’s racist too, although it’s hard to put my finger on it. Perhaps it’s the mocking of Indian accents. It could be the jokes about Hindus thinking cows are sacred. Maybe it’s the amusing way that all Indian food gives you diarrhea. There’s so much to choose from. It’s a smorgasbord of grim.
Here’s a hilarious clip where an American expat explains that Indian food will give you the shits.
Outsourced is unrepentantly pleased with itself. It thinks it’s witty and taboo-busting. It’s actually turgid and misanthropic.
So that’s five new shows in varying shades of shite. But don’t despair. There are some good comedies on TV, just not new ones. Modern Family came back just as funny as last year. The Office may be winding down, but it’s still delivering. 30 Rock has been consistently strong and started the new season well. And the best new show of last year just started its second season. If you didn’t watch the first season of Community, you have plenty to catch up on and plenty to look forward to. Enjoy.