Monday, December 17, 2018

TV: YOUNG SHELDON old and stale

CBS' THE BIG BANG THEORY wraps up this season but THE LITTLE DRIBBLE continues, begging the question why?

Yes, we're referring to YOUNG SHELDON.


CBS has had a lot of problems of late -- most revolving around Leslie Moonves -- but would someone -- anyone? -- like to explain how they got to this point?  They're about to lose their long running, hit sitcom and they've got nothing on deck to replace it with.   How did this happen?

Worse, instead of using the post-BBT spot to groom a new hit, they've allowed YOUNG SHELDON to keep the spot for a second year -- despite the fact that the show can't keep the audience.

Does no one else notice that YOUNG SHELDON is not funny, is not cute, is snooty when it's got nothing to sneer down its nose at anyone and, worst of all, is boring?

YOUNG SHELDON revolves around the character of Sheldon Cooper.  On THE BIG BANG THEORY, Sheldon is played by Jim Parsons.  On YS, he's seen as a child.  The 10-year-old child actor is doing the same thing he did in BIG LITTLE LIES even though it's a different character and BIG LITTLE LIES was a drama.  We'll assume some adult is telling him that's wonderful and amazing.  We'll assume the writers think they've written something amusing but, for four years, so did the writers of SMALL WONDER and little Sheldon is nothing but Vicky, Voice Input Child Identicant, in male drag.

It is not funny.  Even in the earliest episodes of THE BIG BANG THEORY, Sheldon had a personality.

Worse yet, they've surrounded the child actor with . . . the cast from MAMA'S FAMILY.  That's really what it feels like and you have to wonder if the actors are the same big yokels as the ones they play on TV?  The have to be, right?  There's no other way that they could be comfortable in these stereotypical and insulting roles.  Laure Metcalf has played Sheldon's mother Mary on the original show and she's made her a funny and believable character.  Zoe Perry trashes all of that to play a younger Mary Cooper who comes off like she's trying to copy Beverly Archer's performance of Iola Boylen.  Lance Barber is a combination of every false note an actor ever delivered on MAMA'S FAMILY while he lolly gags his way through scene after scene in slack jawed wonder. And then there's Annie Potts.

Long, long ago, she co-starred in a film entitled HEARTACHES and, snagging all she could from Sandy Dennis, she just knew she was going to be a big star.  She couldn't even steal the picture.  While Annie was all tics and externals, Margot Kidder melted into her own role and delivered a real performance.

Annie Potts continues to indicate, as opposed to becoming, she layers on tics and quirks and pretends like each performance is different when the only real difference is that here her character is Connie and there it's Mary Jo or Mary Elizabeth or Dana or Gigi.  The only thing that ever saves this bad actress is dialogue and there's no Linda Bloodworth-Thomason around to rescue her this go round.

Wallace Shawn shows up playing a recurring character and, considering that this series has all the action of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, that's really not surprising.   Nor is it surprising -- considering the limited minds of those behind the camera -- that he's basically playing the same character he did in CLUELESS only now Mr. Hall teaches college students and not high school ones.

It's worth remembering that THE BIG BANG THEORY wasn't great at the start.  It took time for the elements to come together and season three was the turning point for the show.  It's true that YOUNG SHELDON is only on season two currently; however, it does not have the elements to improve.  The cast of THE BIG BANG THEORY wasn't the problem.  The actors were fine in their roles.  The problem was the creep factor -- the stalkerish nature of a show of all men plus Penny and the desperate efforts -- by all but Sheldon -- to pursue Penny.  With the addition of Bernadette (the hilarious Melissa Rauch) and Amy (the equally amazing Farrah Fowler), the show found its stride.  YOUNG SHELDON?  We'd recommend they fire everyone except Wallace Shawn and start over.

The actors are awful, the characters are awful.  The writing may not even rise to the level of MAMA'S FAMILY -- a better comparison might be a sketch from HEE-HAW.  And CBS needs to really worry because the show that has brought them a young audience is about to come to a close at the end of this season and, without THE BIG BANG THEORY as a lead-in, YOUNG SHELDON is going to crash and burn.  Maybe that's fitting since the show stars child actor Iain Armitage -- a boy whose grandfather is said to have been involved in the CIA Phoenix Program as well as bombings in Nicaragua and who lost his security clearance for outing CIA agent Valerie Plame.

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