I’ve been chided for not reviewing A Minute With Stan Hooper, Fox’s new Wednesday night sitcom. Admittedly, I put a low priority on catching it, largely because the presence of lead Norm Macdonald is not exactly an endorsement to me, and he’s described as playing an “Andy Rooney type”, which may not be as vile a concept as being Andy Rooney himself but it is also no endorsement. However, it was not an intentional failure of my reviewing intent that made me miss it during its first two weeks, merely some problematic scheduling. In its third week, I caught it.
This is, in effect, an attempt at a modern version of Green Acres – city boy moves to hick town and deals with locals who are not just hickish, but surreal. Now it’s the surreal part that makes this tricky to do. Otherwise, it would be just standard fish-out-of-water comedy. At least off of this one viewing, I’d say they don’t pull it off. The characters in Green Acres felt like they existed in their own ecology. They were surviving just fine for decades before Eddie Albert showed up, and would function fine after he left. I cannot say the same for Waterford Falls, Wisconsin, where this show takes place. No, these people exist simply to do things that make no sense to anyone, except to annoy the outsider. Part of the difference comes from concept, part from delivery, and I think part of it even comes from filming — the shot-on-film look of Green Acres sold you the reality of it a bit more than the standard modern sitcom look of Stan Hooper.
The supporting cast includes such respectable folks as Penelope Ann Miller as Stan’s wife and Fred Ward as a local cheese mogul. I’ll probably give it another shot or two (particularly if it lasts until the rerun season — being up against both Angel and The West Wing hurts a show), but if it disappears before I get to watch it again I won’t feel a sense of loss.