Tuesday, January 28, 2014

And Here's Another Bad Idea

TV Land had hit upon a great and novel concept several years back.   Bring the audience some "new" classic sitcoms.   Smart writing.  Familiar faces that we loved in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.   And shoot it all in front of that wonderful relic, the guffawing, live studio audience.

Their first foray into this arena was a huge success.  "Hot in Cleveland."  With one of the familiar, returning faces being that of one Valerie Bertinelli, I was an immediate and eager buyer.   So what if the show ran out of creative gas after the first season?  The "new" old sitcom business model was back.

Unfortunately, TV Land never could capitalize on that first success.  Indeed, their restorative concept was essentially a one-hit wonder.   None of these subsequent efforts got a lot of traction with the audience.

And then they hit total rock bottom.   With the bomb shown above.  "Kirstie."

It's like TV Land took the polar opposite direction in what they wanted to do.  Writing that was sophomoric.  Sure, the guffawing, live studio audience is there, but the giddiness might be due to the sugar high they get from the free candy often dispensed by the warm-up comics.  

The real problem with "Kirstie" is the concept.  And the cast.  Old faces that nobody really wanted to see again.  And, frankly, some of those old faces already have new faces that shouldn't be seen in the first place.  The show must be produced at a plastic surgery suite down on Wilshire Boulevard.

Yes, everybody loved Kirstie Alley on "Cheers."  But that was two decades and three chins ago.  Nobody has really been looking for her since, except maybe for the weight loss counselor down at Jenny Craig when she misses her check-in.  And, truth be told, her rather stilted acting could be tolerated when she was surrounded by a strong cast.   On her own, you can see all the seams.  She delivers a joke like Sonny Liston.

Meanwhile, with this misguided mess, you also get back Rhea Perlman, who was my least favorite "Cheers" character and Michael Richards, who was my least favorite "Seinfeld" character.  Thanks so much, TV Land.  Nobody was looking for these two.  Why did you bother finding them?

Mix in some other unknown doofus as Kirstie's long lost son and you have the cast photo above which should come with some of those warnings you find on the bottle of some sinus medicine.  

Inexplicably, the producers have put these clowns into a setting that virtually nobody can identify with.   Kirstie plays a Broadway actress/diva, living in a posh Manhattan apartment with Rhea and Michael as her household staff.  Gee, just like me.  You realize that the creative forces here are not staging this for the general audience, but for the industry.   The whole production looks like a house party at Kirstie's and the cheap wine is plentiful.  This is not a recipe for "classic" sitcom, whether it be new, old, or restored.

I've watched a few episodes and I've been light-headed ever since.   Except for a funny guest star turn by Kristen Chenowith, this show just lies there in front of you.  You keep staring at it to see if it is actually breathing.   The only thing that holds your attention is Kirstie's hips, which seem to get wider each episode.

Throwing another dagger at America, Kirstie dug up another fossil/old friend to play her boyfriend in another episode.
Yep, gang, it's John Travolta for that much coveted "Look Who's Talking" reunion.  If you thought Kirstie had work done, John looks like an old GI Joe figurine.  His hair looks actually painted on by Earl Scheib.  In comparison, you could find more wrinkles under Joan Rivers' eyes.  Once again, nobody was looking for Travolta, so TV Land goes out and finds him.  He gladly does the gig.  Maybe he has to pay his membership dues down at the Scientology factory.  Or he simply wants to swap some clothing with Kirstie.  Wait till he finds out that he'll take the skirts in by a few inches.

It's all imminently forgettable and sad.   TV Land really had us stoked for some "new" old sitcoms.   Why give us them?  Why put them in a setting that only two or three people in the world could identify with?

Hey, TV Land, I've got a list of names we all want to see again.   I've got a computer chock full of wonderful settings and concepts.  Give me a call.

Or, on second thought, don't.

Dinner last night:  Leftover beef stew.


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