Monday, January 02, 2017

TV: TBS claims to offer the funny

TBS?  Last week a lot of e-mails came in about our December 19th piece "TV: HULU, 8 or so years on." We reviewed HULU's offerings.

Were we now, like last week's TBS commericals, going to review TBS offerings?


We hadn't planned to but then we caught the commercial everyone was e-mailing about, the one where TBS insists it's found funny and original programming.

There is nothing original about Samantha Bee's rarely aired program.

TBS forever seems to be announcing a new episode will air in 2 or so weeks.

FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE feels like a Comedy Central show from a decade ago because that's what it is.  There's nothing new or original about her screeches or her humor or 'humor.'

In other words, FULL FRONTAL is to THE DAILY SHOW what MULANEY was to SEINFELD.

Why TBS bills it as a success is anyone's guess.

It's not due to production -- the show only aired one new show in the month of August.

It's not due to ratings.  Over 2 million watched the show's debut and then . . . 3/4s of the audience checked out.

Even Barack Obama stopping by couldn't raise the audience to a million.

So why does TBS act like the show's a hit?

Because for the forever struggling network, it is a hit.

CONAN never really took off and their other new junk can't crack the top thirty in cable ratings.

The junk especially includes SEARCH PARTY.

SPOILERS follow.

This ten episode series has been renewed for a second season and the only thing more shocking than that is that SEARCH PARTY is billed as a comedy.

Search in vain for actual laughs.

A woman is missing.  Dory spoke to her once in college.  Dory sees the missing status as a personal narrative and reflection because her life is so boring and pathetic.

Early on, she fails to impress in an interview and, exiting, she joins her live-in boyfriend Drew on the street.  Drew tries to cheer her up.

She tells him to shut the f**k up.

She then screams this at him repeatedly while a passerby records it on his phone.

After that 'charming' moment, Dory goes to her ex-boyfriend and barges in because she needs his input.

Are you getting the idea that Dory is a bitch?

You're right.

At a gathering at the home of the parents of the missing young woman, Dory ignores Drew's advice and goes to the mother of the missing young woman to insist she saw her at a Chinese eatery.  This leads to upsetting the family.

Instead of leaving, she darts upstairs to what she thinks is the missing young woman's bedroom to try on a piece of clothing only to be discovered by the missing woman's sister who is disgusted that Dory's in her room and wearing her clothes.

These may actually qualify as Dory's nicer moments.

She's offended by the loudness from another apartment and convinced that the woman there is being beat up.  She tries to get Drew to go over one night.  But she never goes over herself -- not during the day, not at night.

She does end up sleeping with Keith.

No, he's not her ex.

He's a man she's recently met.

Drew will tell her how badly he feels because a woman came into their apartment and flashed her breasts at him while Dory will not reveal that she slept with Keith.

How is this funny?

Is it funny in SHAMPOO when Warren Beatty cheats on Goldie Hawn?

No, it's not.

And it's not funny when Dory sleeps with Keith or, in a later episode, when she kills him.

Or when it turns out her belief that he'd killed the missing young woman wasn't true either (the woman's alive).

Dory's not a funny character.

She's not an admirable character.

She's just a busybody Glady Kravitz type who honestly should have long ago learned to mind her own damn business.

And she's surrounded with other questionable types.

Her gay male friend must have bonded with her over their relationship issues but his main characteristic is that he's a disgusting liar who claims to have survived cancer -- makes this claim over and over -- only Dory's ex exposes him as a liar.  Instead of living with his shame, his lie gets him a book deal.

This could have all been played for funny -- you can see, for example, how a Dawn French could have made it hilarious.

But it's limp and tired.

Which is not to say that all of TBS' originals are embarrassments.

ANGIE TRIBECA, for example, is very funny.  And while WRECKED is not a critic's darling, it outperforms every other TBS original in the ratings (and it is damn funny no matter what a bunch of stick up their asses Water Cooler Types say).

Mainly though, there's such a sameness in TBS' originals.  PEOPLE OF EARTH would come off a lot zanier, for example, if it was a multi-camera set up filmed in front of a live studio audience.  THE DETOUR fancies itself as too smart and cute for words when the reality is that the show coasts on Natalie Zea.

One of the biggest surprises is that although it airs new episodes of AMERICAN DAD, it's failed to even try developing its own animated programming.

So how does it compare to HULU?

HULU's got new episodes of THE MINDY PROJECT (back to flat out funny now that the baby's kept off screen for most episodes) and the hilarious original DIFFICULT PEOPLE as well as the improving CASUAL.  In drama and suspense, it's got 11.22.63 and SHUT EYE as well as CHANCE and THE PATH.

HULU's become a real player and is now only second to NETFLIX.


To put it all into perspective, HULU nips at NETFLIX's heels while TBS is behind HULU but ahead of the still struggling AMAZON.

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