It has been a terrible week for me. And it has been a terrible year (in general) for Network shows. I'm really not oriented toward Traditional Comedies, and this year's new comedies are really not oriented toward being funny, which brings us to Thursday Night, where I had to watch new comedies, and almost died from the Awful.
First up was $#*! My Dad Says. Since it comes on at 8:30 I had nothing to do at 8:00. In spite of myself, I checked out a few minutes of the preceding show, CBS's hit Sitcom Big Bang Theory. Why oh why did I do this?
I saw the show when it premiered on September 24, 2007. Matt Roush, the TV critic I admire most, seemed enthused, and his recommendation made it worth a try. Here is what i had to say back then:
The universe has not yet reached a large enough size to contain all the awful of this show. The concept: two nerds (combined IQ: 340) with virtually zero social skills, and a hot but stupid girl who moves in next door. Trust me: hilarity does not ensue. I was actually chuckling at the end, but only because it was slightly less awful than before, which by comparison seemed like a Dave Chappelle special. I have never gotten into How I Met Your Mother or 2 ½ Men, but if this is the level of comedy, I am so glad.
Cut to now. Big Bang Theory is a huge success. Star Jim Parsons just won an Emmy, and several people I know love BBT with all their hearts. Sitcoms are the types of shows that change the most, as the writing gels, the actors grow into their roles, develop chemistry, etc. It doesn't seem reasonable to just never give it another try. So, I watched a few more minutes.
It was so terrible I almost cried. I have been watching a few minutes at a time of 2 and a Half Men since it hit syndication on FX (it's all I can stand), and Twittering up a storm about how terrible it is, but compared to Big Bang Theory, 2 and a Half Men is the reincarnation of Seinfeld.
In the brief ten minutes I stomached I saw such hilarious plot-lines as:
One character (I'm guessing this was the so-called Emmy winner Jim Parsons, though I can't be sure) admitting to never having sex in his life, especially if one did not count dancing a hoe-down with his sister at a Teen Bible Camp;
A mathematical analysis of a blond girl's sluttiness (and can I just say that no matter now uninspiring I found the Virgin (semi-incest pending) guy's performance, the blond girl was Pantheon Sitcom bad, right up there with Brian Tanner on Alf and Small Wonder);
Another nerd-looking guy who developed a robotic arm to massage his shoulder, only to think it over and realize there were OTHER places the robotic arm could help him out, which led to a trip to the ER.
Comedy is in its execution, so all three scenarios above could be funny. I just didn't find them funny, and I shake my head sadly at a world that does. But enough of Big Band Theory, let's talk about a show at least 24x as bad:
$#*! My Dad Says - CBS: Thursdays, 8:30
Ah Twitter, you've finally arrived. As far as I know, the first television show based on a Twitter Account, and why they couldn't have picked mine I'll never know. Sigh. At any rate, the premise of the Twitter Account (and subsequent book) is that this guy has a dad who says hilarious things without realizing it.
Sounds promising, though it's one of those things that might work better in person. In any event, what makes the crazy stuff dad says funny is that he doesn't seem to realize how funny he is.
I understand this. I have a mother who routinely shatters the Unintentional Comedy Scale. My mother doesn't say stupid things, but she does say hilarious stuff without warning. You never know when, which has led me to declare that she should be "mic'd at all times." I have friend named Carlos who also says unintentionally funny stuff all the time, much of it more in line with this guy.
I can see the attraction, because I have often thought that a Television show about Carlos would be hilarious. However, if I were to do this, I would insist that they producers get Carlos to actually play Carlos. You just can't recreate the magic any other way.
Enter William Shatner.
Shatner is a funny guy at times, and always has that twinkle in his eyes, whether he's shilling for PriceLine, tearing up the Boston legal world or just bedding green women. If you made a Mt. Rushmore of all-time funny Canadians Shatner wouldn't be who you first thought of, but after all the arguments were in and Mike Meyers fans were shouted down for the last time, you very well might be carving William Shatner into the rock. (With separate piece of stone brought in for the hair, naturally.)
Here's the problem: when my mom, when Carlos, when that person in your life is so hilarious, it's done without awareness for how he/she sounds. Shatner is a funny guy, but he's always aware of how funny he is.
I heard someone suggest Alan Arkin would have been a good choice. I can see that working. If he were still with us Peter Boyle would have been perfect. Hell, I'd sit down and watch if they got Ross Perot. Or even get the original Twitter guy's dad. But Shatner seems wrong.
And wrong he is!
$#*! My Dad Says also stars the hapless son who has to move back in home with his father; I mostly felt sorry for him. Will Sasso is the other son (who lives in town and puts up with his father), and Nicole Sullivan is Sasso's wife. I've always liked her comic timing, though I can't remember where I saw her.
In any event, everyone in this seems likable enough as actors. It just seems like the concept works better on Twitter. Or in a book. Or real life. But not this show, and not with Shatner.
(By the way, not for nothing, but I'm shocked I couldn't have worked a "Shatner my Dad Says" joke into this review. Really poor job by me. I blame CBS.)
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