Wednesday, November 13, 2019

TV: So bad, it will make your teeth hurt

Recently, Hostess offered a new treat: Unicorn Cupcakes.  Maybe the title alone should have been a warning?


This fall CBS is serving up one of television's least flavorful treats: THE UNICORN.

The premise?  It's FAMILY AFFAIR only Cissy, Buffy and Jody are adult friends of Brian Keith who are bound and determined to find him bed mates.  You read that right.  This isn't, "Let's fine the perfect woman for him."  You read that right, times have changed, and what now qualifies for 'sweet' and first hour of prime time is a lot different than it was 60 years ago.

Things have changed so much, in fact, that you no longer need to be good looking like Brian Keith, you can be butt ugly -- and even a little squirrely -- like Walton Goggins is.

Previous to being cast as Dream Date, Goggins used to play creeps.  No one ever questioned his casting in those roles.  You'd think that would have been a tip off.  Then again, we are talking CBS where women are pretty and men are . . . just there.

CBS didn't just invent the comedy genre fat-man-skinny-wife, they owned it, over and over and over again.  And they continue to own it on this show where they team the ridiculously attractive Michaela Watkins with the incredibly repulsive Rob Corddry.

The casting seems to be an argument for birth control -- a very strong argument.

What's worse than the looks of the male actors?  The scripts.  Blame that on frequent writers Bill Martin and Mike Schiff.  These two also created GROUNDED FOR LIFE and for the Steve Kroll rip-off TRIAL & ERROR.  You really have to wonder why, after those two shows, CBS would want to get in bed with them?

But honestly, whose life is so barren that they obsess over getting a friend into bed with someone -- with anyone?

It's not just Michaela's Delia and Rob's Forrest working overtime to get Walton's Wade laid, it's also Omar Benson Miller's Ben and Maya Lynne Robinson's Michelle.  That's right, not counting Wade, there are four grown adults working to get Wade laid.

Again, how the times have changed.  At the end of the sixties, THE DORIS DAY SHOW popped up and she was, like Wade, a person with two kids who'd lost their spouse.  But no one was working to get Doris laid -- let alone four adults.

Adults in real life aren't helping the show.  They refer to it as a "hit."  It's no such thing.  It averages around five million an episode.  That's five million less than the show in the same slot last year got.  While YOUNG SHELDON has lost viewers (about two million) since losing THE BIG BANG lead in, it's still delivering eight million or so a week.  LIFE IN PIECES got many more viewers than THE UNICORN and it got cancelled.  MOM, which airs after THE UNICORN, pulls in more viewers.

We've seen this before.

And it's not a hit.

What is it? 


That's what it is.  We're sure we forgot something, but that's what it is.  NBC had a successful Thursday line up.  It was so successful -- with heavy hitters SEINFELD, FRIENDS and WILL & GRACE -- that they could -- and did -- sandwich garbage between their hit shows.

The garbage never got huge ratings or even decent ratings.  But back then, The Water Cooler Set frequently hailed the programs as a hit.  They weren't hits.  And, bit by bit, they led to viewer erosion.

In fact, you can argue that, more than anything else, NBC's MUST SEE THURSDAY created a la carte viewing.  It programmed viewers to watch, for example, FRIENDS at the top of an hour, then take off a half hour only to return for either SEINFELD or WILL & GRACE.

Now CBS, which had been ruling comedy on Thursday nights, has decided to follow NBC's bad example.

THE UNICORN is not a hit.  It's barely a place holder.  Pretending otherwise is what NBC and The Water Cooler Set did for over 15 years.  All that resulted in was viewer erosion.  That really hurt NBC.  Didn't hurt The Water Cooler Set which is why they continue to lie.  Maybe if they ever had consequences for writing nonsense like, "The Unicorn has quickly become a solid hit for CBS, so much so that the freshman series was renewed for Season 2 about five weeks into its run" (Adrienne Jones, CINEMABLEND), they'd stop spinning.

unicorn cupcakes

THE UNICORN is a low rated sitcom that is struggling to deliver viewers.  It leaves a huge crater in CBS' Thursday night line up as viewers flee for a half hour only to return for MOM.  That's not a hit.  If you've tried the Hostess Unicorn Cupcakes, you know they aren't a hit either.  A hard, thin icing on top of a squishy cupcake, the whole thing tasting like a young child's idea of sweet.  But here's how the Hostess product is better than the CBS sitcom: the cupcakes are labeled "Limited-Edition" -- meaning that, unlike the sitcom, they know they will have a short self life.

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