Here we are in the heart of the Passover celebration, so I thought I’d share this:
Watching the new The Paul Reiser Show, I immediately thought “hey, this feels like it’s supposed to be Curb Your Enthusiasm” (not that I’m any expert, having seen two or three episodes of that show over the years) “both in feel and in the way they build it around the real Paul Reiser’s life, looking at his life as a stay-at-home dad in his after-the-hit-sitcom days. It’s not just the concept, it’s the texture.” And then, they mentioned Larry David, and I felt like they were trying to address people having that reaction by acknowledging it and moving on. But then David himself appeared, so I’ve got to assume that this is all purposeful, probably with someone from the Curb team involved. I’m not sure if the world needs another Curb (which is not a complaint about Curb; I thought the episodes I watched were reasonably enjoyable, but wasn’t certain whether further exposure would bring me more into its depths, or whether its annoying characters would become annoying to watch.
But if the Reiser show is Curb, it isn’t pure; it’s Curb grafted onto some other, more normal modern sitcom about a bunch of male friends who have nothing in common, but hang out together because their kids go to the same school. And this ends up an awkward mix – the sitcom that is grafted on isn’t a particularly good one. If these other dads were just one part of the wacky set of folks who surrounded Paul in life, that would be one thing, but it’s clear this is the core concept of the show, and it drags it down; “the life of Paul Reiser” is a more interesting concept than “the life of five guys who don’t really like each other but hang out due to circumstances, each of whom has their official quirks.”
There’s this new show, this single-camera sitcom about a group of friends, largely involved in couples, who spend all their time together, and deal with their various wackinesses. And it’s called… wait, it’s on the tip of my tongue. It’s Traffic Light… no, wait, it’s Perfect Couples… I mean Happy Endings.
It’s not that these three shows don’t have textural differences (of the three, I like the lightness and less-meanness of Happy Endings best), but that they are similar enough that it’s like there was some great success in this format that they’re all copying… but if there’s some success, its not coming to mind. It’s like a “What if Friends were a one-camera show?” virus suddenly swept through Hollywood. (The answer, as it turns out, is “It would lose all its rhythms and not be so amusing.”)
As that last comment suggests, the there have one other similarity: none of them left me really wanting to see more.
The hopes which I had for The Chicago Code prove unfounded; it has no visible direction, nor does it feel real at this point. I thought we’d end up more Boomtowny. Now, I’m still watching, but if I miss an episode I won’t feel that I missed something. I was just watching the episode of how they have to deal with a hot day and all of the tensions it creates, and could only think “Hill Street Blues did stuff like this a lot better.”
The concept behind the new Friday night show Chaos is actually a pretty good one, for something on the Chuck-to-Man from UNCLE range of seriousness and realism: within an intelligence agency whose resources are mostly turned internally in various Machiavellian forms of agency politics, there is a team of able operatives who must go out and do the real work while working to avoid the internal forces that would entangle them.
The problems lie in the execution, the frantic rhythm and the character scenes that are never quite contextually believable. I was already not buying into the pilot before the opening credits… which revealed the name of Brett Ratner on this. Ratner is quite a success in the film world, but his films, while allowing some good moments by giving their actors functioning space, don’t hold together for me. I can rave about the delightful moments where a kinetic Chris Tucker bounces off a silent, amused Paul Sorvino in Money Talks, or talk about a cool moment or two in the Rush Hour films, but the whole never lives up to the parts, and the films more exist as an excuse to glue together those moments rather than a fertile soil from which such moments bloom.
Chaos feels like that. Characters trust one another or distrust one another based not on any history or knowledge or reasonable reason in context, but because it’s what’s needed for the next part of the plot to occur. And due to that, the complexities of their life arise more from their own failures than from the problematic situation they are supposed to be afflicted by.
I assume the network thought this was a no-go; launching a series on a non-sweeps week Friday looks more like a way of dumping ordered episodes than of trying to launch a hit.
NOTE: there are currently three network adventure series with five-letter names starting with CH. None of them are on my watch list. So if anyone out there is planning CHECK, CHEWY, or a remake of CHiPs, reconsider!
I’m sick at home, lumped on the couch, watching Die Hard on the Roku. There’s a scene where a cop comes out of a convenience store, and on exiting, it’s very clear that it’s a specific chain – the color scheme and the 24 HOURS sign are exactly the same as that chain still uses today. Which surprises me, because usually there’s some time across a decade or two where someone says “let’s reinvigorate the brand” and redesign everything. But it’s cool… this shot could’ve been shot yesterday…
…until they pan across the gas prices on the sign out front. 74.9. Yeah, this is definitely the past.