Tuesday, January 15, 2019

TV: Funny or not: SCHOOLED, Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld

What's funny?

How about what a bad state Channing Dungey left ABC in.  Wednesday, ABC premiered a new comedy.  It was a spin-off which should have helped it -- a spin-off of a popular show.  And maybe it did help some?


Ratings wise, though ABC can be grateful for THE CW -- if it weren't for that net-lette, ABC would have been dead last in the ratings on Wednesday.  Compared to the ratings for ALL AMERICAN (two hour long episodes on Wednesday), ABC's 2 hour comedy line up was a huge hit.  Sadly, for ABC, other networks aired programming as well.  ABC did beat FOX in the first hour, but not in the second.  NBC and CBS beat ABC in the first hour and FOX, NBC and CBS beat ABC in the second hour -- and CBS aired nothing but reruns for two hours.

ABC aired a comedy block that kicked off with THE GOLDBERGS which was the network's highest rated show with 5.18 million.  THE GOLDBERGS' spin-off SCHOOLED followed with 4.82 million viewers.

On THE GOLDBERGS, Lainey (AJ Michalka) left Eric after deciding they shouldn't get married.  Having left THE GOLDBERGS, Lainey then showed up in the next half-hour slot as the lead character on SCHOOLED -- a show that takes place in the 90s (THE GOLDBERGS takes place in the 80s).  She did not become a rock star.  She has returned to town and is now a music teacher at her old high school.  Fortunately for her and the series, Tim Meadows continues as Principle Glascot and Bryan Callen continues as Coach Mellor. That's about all the show has going for it -- Michalka, Meadows and Callen.  The student body isn't that impressive -- are they supposed to be?  Nor is the writing.  The 90s culture references aren't funny.  They're just kind of tossed out as though they're supposed to be funny, as though, at the table read, someone said, "These are just marking time, we'll have real lines by the time we film."  Then they filmed, with no studio audience, and decided the lines were good enough.  The lines weren't good enough and a studio audience would have let them know that.

The show's not good enough.

Maybe it will get better as it goes along, sitcoms can do that.  If they're filmed in front of a live studio audience, sitcoms often get better as they go along -- THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, Bob Newhart's 80s show NEWHART, THE GOLDEN GIRLS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, LIVING SINGLE, FRIENDS, WILL & GRACE, THE BIG BANG THEORY -- many, many sitcoms got better as they went along.  Again, those were sitcoms that were recorded or filmed before a live studio audience.  Shows that weren't?  Those shows -- THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER, FAMILY AFFAIR, PETTICOAT JUNCTION, ARLI$$, etc -- were never any better than their initial episodes.  Without a live audience to play to, the shows never grew because 'good enough' was the motto.  They had no live energy to play with, nothing to measure by.

What was especially sad about last week's episode was that it was so unfunny after all the time spent working on it.  They started back in November of 2016 and even filmed a pilot that aired as part of THE GOLDBERGS over a year ago.  What aired last week was a further refining of the show.  But they keep messing with the premise and messing with the premise and SCHOOLED just gets worse and worse.  That might be a good idea if it meant Lainey could go back to THE GOLDBERGS but this show has put forth the notion that, in the 90s, she's unmarried and not with Eric so why send her back to THE GOLDBERGS and the 80s when we know how it works out (or, in this case, how it doesn't work out)?

About the only thing working to make SCHOOLED look good?  SINGLE PARENTS.  That's the sitcom Channing swore would be a huge hit.  Last Wednesday, it was ABC's lowest rated sitcom and it had reached a record low in a debut season when it posted nothing but record lows.  In that regard, it's like another ABC show that Channing swore by: SPLITTING UP TOGETHER.  That one is posting CW numbers.  ABC is a mess in prime time and that Channing wasn't fired sooner goes to how unresponsive corporate culture actually is.

Somethings just aren't funny.  Which brings us to THE GREG GUTFELD SHOW.

Saturday night, US President Donald Trump went on FOX NEWS, specifically on JUSTICE WITH JUDGE JEANINE.  He was on to address, among other things, a new report from THE NEW YORK TIMES that, following his firing of James Comey, the F.B.I. opened an investigation into him -- a sitting president.

We managed to miss it even though we tried to tune in.  We caught the last bit of her interview with US House Rep. Jim Jordan and then her conversation with Dan Bongino.  As a new show came on, hosted by someone named Jesse Watters, we debated whether we needed to pull up JUDGE JEANINE and watch from the beginning?

According to Ty, some of the e-mail recently has been from people shocked that we do not watch FOX NEWS.  As TV critics, some readers feel, we should be weighing in on FOX NEWS programming.  Strange when you realize no one's saying that about CNN or MSNBC even though it's been some time since we weighed in on either.

As we debated that, we registered that Jesse Watters, host of WATTERS WORLD, was doughy, in a New York kind of way.  He probably passed for cute on FOX and that's when a friend we were with informed us that Watters nearly threw away his marriage of ten years last May when his wife filed for divorce after the news that Watters was having sex with Emma DiGiovine, an associate producer.  The divorce has apparently been put on hold.

We wondered about Watters' judgment.  For example, this episode featured Anthony Scaramucci -- he was briefly in the administration.  We'd never seen him before -- we get a the bulk of our news from newspapers, magazines, the internet and especially radio.  It was weird how, when Scaramucci smiled, he looked like the joker.  Even weirder -- and this went to Watters' judgment -- was when he and Jesse were talking about his (Anthony's) hair and going on about how thick it was.  Watters' hair was much thicker than Scaramucci's hair.

If it seems like we weren't taking the 'news' show seriously, we weren't.  Neither was Jesse Watters -- he had a faux debate with Scaramucci and Katrina Pierson in which he had Scaramucci play Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Pierson play Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.  It was nonsense and produced nothing resembling a public discussion.  It was mainly Scaramucci fretting that he didn't have any bifocals -- that would have allowed him to nail his portrayal, he felt -- and Watters offering the direction to look down and that he'd find the characterization that way.

What followed was THE GREG GUTFELD SHOW which at least was supposed to be funny.  Supposed to be.  It's billed as comedy, satire and news parody.  It managed to pretty much miss all three.

The show is set up like a talk show's idea of a panel.  The panelists were THE NATIONAL REVIEW's Katherine Timpf, former wrestler Tyrus, THE DAILY SHOW's David Angelo and comedian Jimmy Failla -- all four were new to us.

Katherine Timpf was mildly amusing. Tyrus was funny frequently.  (The two have a podcast, it might be worth checking out.)  David Angelo was smile worthy if not laugh-out-loud funny.  Jimmy Failla?  He failed over and over and over but also managed to deliver the biggest laugh for the studio audience.  Did that make up for all the groaners?  Who knows?

Let's move over to the host.  Greg needs to grasp that he has aged out of cute -- even for a FOX NEWS male.  It's not that he's 54 per se, it is that his face is doing elderly man things -- like the flesh fold dipping between his brows over his nose.  Would a boyish face help him?

We doubt it but, even if it might, he's not going to have one.

So he might do well to grasp that yelling is not funny.  Outside of Sam Kinison, we're hard pressed to think of anyone who made a comedy career out of yelling.  So it was off putting to hear Greg yelling and yelling and doing so with so much bitterness at the top of the show.  It was supposed to be something similar to a monologue that he was delivering -- only seated and with videos.  A detached or amused pose would have worked much better than the snarl that only made his wrinkles stand out more (the fold above the nose, the three wrinkles on his forehead, the ones around the eyes) -- where some have smile lines, Greg has anger lines.

He'd also do well to have funnier writers.  Two 'skits' involved Pelosi and Schumer's Democratic response to Donald Trump's address last week.  The address was about immigration.  The 'skits' had Pelosi and Schumer's inner thoughts being broadcast.  Fart jokes was about all the writer(s) managed to come up with.  Pelosi thinking what was that smell and realizing Chuck had passed gas and then thinking, "See a doctor please.  I think something's dead inside you."  That's political humor?  There were no jokes about the wall Donald wants to build, no jokes about anything really.  If you doubt us, at one point, Pelosi's thinking about getting a sandwich and pondering what would go on it: "ham, cheese onions, lettuce,  pickles, some mustard . . .".  No, it wasn't funny.  Even the lines weren't delivered funny.  They were recited in a dull monotone.

At the top, we asked, "What's funny?"  Answer: Not THE GREG GUTFELD SHOW.  In fact, the only real purpose it served was to reveal that there were roaches in the green room.  Tyrus revealed he'd killed one when it scared Katherine.  Roaches infesting FOX NEWS?  As every 90s sitcom would have replied, "Why are we not surprised?"

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