There are some respectable names at the start of the new sitcom Teachers. Creator Matt Tarses has writing credits primarily on two shows: Scrubs and Sports Night. Them’s good stuff. And the director is James Burrows, who has been the key director on some long-running and respected hits (and some merely long-running), and has often been brought in to direct the first few episodes of a new show to help the cast build a chemistry.
Between them, they managed to turn out an amazingly crappy launch. It’s all sitcom shortcuts that don’t feel like anything real. The central character is a teacher who runs with a pack of slacker teachers… but, in the most trite cliche scene possible, we are shown he is secretly a teacher who really cares and can touch the hearts of his students (he gets the reluctant reader to believe that Hamlet is really about his life, and thus inspires him to go read it.)
The other characters is the guy we’re supposed to sneer at because he takes his job seriously, plus the slacker male teachers. And then there are the two potential love interests for the central character – the hot blonde teacher-who-is-English (I don’t recall if she’s an “English teacher”, if you see what I mean) who is serious-minded and who our “hero” has lusted after for a while, and the hot brunette who is more of a wild gal. And there is our main man, pulled between them like he was Archie Andrews, split between the hot blond serious-minded Betty and the hot brunette Veronica.
None of this feels real. Much of it feels like it’s supposed to be humorously over-the-top, but they don’t achieve the “humorously” part of that (in contrast to, say, Scrubs, which does the humorous part quite well.) It may be possible to make bad teachers more funny than tragic on an ongoing basis, but these guys can’t even get laughs at the start.
I did laugh once during the episode, at a reference to a “banana factory”. And the brunette does indeed have nice breasts, which I only note because they seem to make it the central attribute of her character so I admit that they got something to work.
And this hurts Scrubs. They are paired together for an hour, while the other key things they’re up against (the attention-getting The Cell, the new Sons & Daughters, the great acting of House, and about to move into that slot, the best thing on TV, Veronica Mars) are all an hour long. So people may choose not to watch Scrubs because there will be nothing to watch afterward.
Ah well. This will likely be a quick death, and go unmourned. But then, I keep thinking good TV will win out. Sometimes it does, but not predictably so.