Wednesday, February 14, 2018

TV: When and why it's just not funny

Patton Oswalt is a lot like Robin Williams -- if Robin had never possessed talent or sensuality.

The Clogged Duane is back yet again because, while Lincoln freed the slaves, no one has yet to free TV from fat, White men.  He's stinking up A.P. BIO -- a series that wouldn't be all that funny even if he wasn't in it.

a new illst

The premise is that college professor -- a college philosophy professor -- is hired by a desperate to impress high school.  How desperate?  They hire him to teach A.P. biology.

How desperate?

That's a question for NBC who hired Lorne Michaels and four other men (Seth Meyers included) to produce a sitcom.  This is his sixth sitcom and only one has been considered a 'success' -- 30 ROCK -- a show that never ranked higher than 69 for any of the years it was in production.

The format prompts no questions, however.  When you're alleged comedy lacks a single laugh, you go single-camera.  It's easier to trick a network executive into believing they're just not getting the joke.  Had it been filmed before a live audience, the exec might notice that it's not just him/her not laughing but also a studio full of people.

The suits blame their boss Bob Greenblatt.

Though still a few years from 60, he's seen as more conservative -- when it comes to programming -- than Leslie Moonves.

He also has no sitcom experience in his wheelhouse -- the closest would be the dramadies NURSE JACKIE and THE UNITED STATES OF TARA.

It's been a major battle, in the pilot season, for the suits under Greenblatt to get seed money and support for multi-cam sitcoms.  But, under pressure from COMCAST, Greenblatt's agreed that something has to be done and that the answer really isn't GREAT NEWS or any other mild offering from Tina Fey.

The only hit comedy NBC currently has is WILL & GRACE which has demonstrated that viewers will tune in on Thursdays in 2018 -- just not for THE GOOD PLACE or GREAT NEWS or SUPERSTORE or any other so-self-infatuated-it-doesn't-have-to-put-out-for-the-viewing-audience program.

HAPPY PEPPERS could have been NBC's second hit of the season but at the last minute they passed.

It was a mistake.

Currently, there are 16 multi-cam pilots being considered by ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX -- with NBC considering four -- two of the four have Sean Hayes as an executive producer.

This fall could be the year that NBC finally is no longer the fourth rated network.

If Norman Lear's latest shot, GUESS WHO DIED, makes it to air many are praying the similar ground of a FOX possibility -- COOL KIDS, starring Vicki Lawrence, David Alan Grier and Leslie Jordan -- will kick it in the ratings.  Norman's finally found success again after years of failing and did it via NETFLIX's ONE DAY AT A TIME.  But while that's a multi-cam the old dog wants to make a mess of the rug today with a single-cam.

Lear always allowed preachy theatrics to step on comedy laughs and that's why it's amazing CBS is even considering a multi-cam from him.  It's as though they're letting him run with scissors and boredom.

For 32 years, Lear failed to find a way to be funny and suffered one failure after another until 2017's reboot of ONE DAY AT A TIME.  Rita Moreno mines the material and finds laughter in moments the scripts didn't even explore.  Would that have been possible were a studio audience not present to demonstrate to the show runners just how right Rita's choices were?  It is highly doubtful.

And it's highly doubtful Lear's efforts to proselytize will find comedy on the written page or the stage without a studio audience to warn his echo chamber when the preaching falls to harangue and fails to be hilarious.

Whatever happens next season, A.P. BIO probably won't be a part of it.

This show is a horrible mess -- one that never should have aired in the first place.

When you're casting Patton Oswalt, you're scraping the sides of the creativity barrel for whatever's left and, as Oswalt demonstrates in the role of Princpal Durbin, that ain't much.

Certainly not enough to deliver a laugh.

He hems and haws and he gets all glassy eyed, he's like a fat Jon Cryer and, in 2018, TV doesn't even need the original Cryer, let alone an outlet mall irregular.

He's not the only thing ugly about this show which manages to also have one of the worst lighting jobs -- it's lit so poorly, it's as though you're watching an early 70s sitcom -- say ABC's TEMPERATURES RISING.  Then there's the 'writing' with supposed jokes that go down with all the ease of Muhammad Ali's Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips.

When you're not gagging, you're suffering heartburn.

The only real winner is Glenn Howerton who stars as the lead.

Presented with one so-so script after another, he decided to go full on in A.P. BIO and demonstrates he can be do more than be the funny boy, he can also act.  Next time, hopefully it with a script worthy of him.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }