In stage acting, there’s something that’s called a “speed through”. It a rehearsal where the actors run through the script very quickly, with glib delivery and no pauses, just getting out the lines and following their blocking. This helps the actors get those memorization elements in place with confidence. Once you can count on those, you’re free to get on with the acting work.
In the new series Gary Unmarried (originally advertised as Project Gary), most of the cast feels like they’re doing a speed through, reeling off sitcom banter without taking time to react and seem to be formulating a response. This is most blatant in Jay Mohr in the lead roll; he doesn’t end up seeming like a thinking character, but merely like a sitcom actor.
It’s a little puzzling. It’s not like Mohr is untalented (he was the lead in the enjoyable sitcom Action) almost a decade ago), and he’s playing with veteran comedy folks Paula Marshall and Ed Begley, Jr. And the pilot was directed by Ted Wass, who was not only a lead in but also a frequent director of the pause-heavy Blossom.
The setup is basic. Mohr is your basic sitcom manchild, recently divorced from Marshall, who is an ex-wife very much in the “smarter than you, harsher than you, and not as reasonable as she thinks” mode that we see in other TV ex-wives (see Two-and-a-Half Men). There is shared custody of two kids in their early teens, and both parents are now dating (Mohr’s character, in typical sitcom mode, dating someone much younger and better looking than he is.) Nothing in the pilot really sparks. I wouldn’t be utterly shocked if this were to end up being the next According To Jim, staying on TV in a convenient time slot without anybody really noticing, but it’s going to have to find some game if it wants to be anything more than that.
Thing is, I don’t get great vibes off of anything yet this season. If there’s going to be any delights, it will be unexpected delights.
(In the manner of reviewing everything this year, I’m going to consider the spring’s Knight Rider telefilm as the pilot of the new TV series, and thus spare myself watching an episode of the ongoing adventures.)