Wednesday, December 04, 2019

TV: Funny can be hard, funny can be sad

Laughter is contagious, yes, but not everything is funny.  Sometimes a show, for example, is supposed to be funny and it just leaves the audience dead.  There are worse things.  This being an election cycle, we should probably note that one of the worse things would have to include being a politician who gets laughs.


HAPPY MERRY WHATEVER? The first episode is like a Tom Steyer commercial -- annoying. Tom's running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and POLITICO's Trent Spiner recently noted how annoying the commercials are to people in New Hampshire.

It's not just New Hampshire. Try watching HULU PLUS LIVE with ads and not encountering him. You'll quickly grasp why the people in New Hampshire make fun of the ads and Tom.

In the POLITICO article, he claimed this was him introducing himself. No, it's not.

An introduction would wear thing quickly, yes, but it would be better than what he's airing.

'I'm better than Donald Trump' -- that's his message.

How stupid is Tom?

We wouldn't vote for Joe Biden but we know he'd be better than Donald Trump and that's true of anyone running in the Democratic primary.

Tom does get that he's asking Democrats to vote for him in these ads, right? He's a better businessman than Donald, he brags. Does he really think that's the way to go? Donald's already set the bar for self-boasting. In a Democratic Party primary, he really doesn't need to match Donald. He should have used the time to talk about what he believes in. The environment, for example, has been either ignored in the debates or treated superficially so that's an issue he could have talked up and explained how he would address it and what he believes. He could do that with so many issues.

And he should. Back in July, PBS' THE NEWSHOUR asked "What does Tom Steyer believe?"

It's a question many Democratic voters are still asking.

If you're trying to get people, to get Democrats and undeclared voters (undeclared voters can vote in New Hampshire's primary), to support you, maybe you ought to explain where you stand so they can find common ground?

It was a lousy ad buy.

And the pilot for MERRY HAPPY WHATEVER was a lousy pilot.

It came down to Dennis Quaid. He succeeded in GREAT BALLS OF FIRE because the role of Jerry Lee Lewis called for over the top. He floundered in many other films (POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, etc.) because he went over the top.

Playing Don Quinn in the pilot, Dennis was so over the top, watching him left you drained.  You couldn't even appreciate the strong cast. But that's the thing about a sitcom filmed before a live audience, the feedback can help you shape and improve your performance.  And Dennis improves with each episode.  By episode four, he's enjoyable and you can relate to him.  He's reeled in the performance and just become Don.

The rest of the cast is sharp as well.  Brent Morin (Matt) and Bridgit Mendler (Emily) have genuine chemistry.  Elizabeth Ho and Adam Rose (Joy and Todd) steal every scene that's not nailed down.  They are wonderful as people who married into the Quinn family and live in fear of Don Quinn.  Hayes MacArthur has found just the right way to play Sean.  Sean is Don's son and he is the opposite of Don, far more laid back.  Siobhan Murphy plays Don's oldest daughter Pasty and any scene that Ho and Rose haven't walked off with is one she grabs and runs with.  Even Ashley Tisdale, saddled with a rather predictable storyline, manages to make Kayla seem real and fresh.   And Garcelle Beauvais has to be mentioned for the great job she does as Don's tentative girlfriend.

People working on a sitcom -- unlike politicians -- can often learn on the job, as Dennis Quaid demonstrates.  As for the elected, they rarely learn anything but how to grow more and more estranged from the people they supposedly represent.

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