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Mystery Girls is a show that exists and it’s biggest crime is that there have been absolutely no Beverly Hills 90210 jokes.

Let’s get the first obvious annoyance out of the way: Kirstie Alley is starring in a sitcom called Kirstie but her character’s name is Madison Banks. There are other characters in the show but none of them are named Kirstie, either. (Even the subtitles on the episode I watched seems confused by the title). This has happened before—The Cosby Show was about The Huxtables—but that was widely accepted because, well, it’s Bill Cosby. Here it feels unnatural, annoying, and gross—much like the show itself.

Kirstie, a TV Land sitcom that no one truly expects to be good, is trying to coast by on a “look at these previous sitcom stars return to television” platform: aside from Kirstie Alley, there is Rhea Perlman who starred with Alley in Cheers for many years and Michael Richards from Seinfeld. They’re all fine actors in their own way but none really fit in here. Somehow, they are simultaneously not strong enough to demand attention from the audience but also too good to be stuck on whatever the hell this show is trying to be.

Kirstie tells the story of Maddie, an obnoxious and clueless Broadway diva, who is suddenly reunited with the son she gave up for adoption over two decades ago. Whatever you think will happen in the pilot, happens: she freaks out, she lies about her son, he learns he doesn’t fit in with her crowd, they say hurtful things, she makes a grand gesture, and we’re on track for a mediocre sitcom with pratfalls and forced sweetness. The following episodes aren’t much better. Arlo struggles to fit in, Maddie struggles to learn how to become a mother, and everyone makes jokes about Kirstie Alley’s eating habits. At least it’s airing on TV Land where it will disappear among equally boring shows.

Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer in a Limp Bizkit shirt because Mom still exists. 

I’m looking forward to the day when it’s normal for television characters to get abortions because so far this season we’ve been dealt three boring and poorly written storylines about teen pregnancy. Welcome to the Family is so bland, so predictable, and so overdone that the best thing I can say about it is that it fades into the background of Thursday night television. Hey TV writers: Just let characters have abortions. They did it with Manny on Degrassi and that show is now on its thirteenth season with no signs of slowing down. Do you really want to be outdone by Degrassi?

There isn’t much to say about We Are Men that couldn’t be gleaned from the title itself. It’s a show about men, of course. It’s a show where the opening titles feature four men walking down a street to a dude band cover of “I Will Survive” (they couldn’t even spring for Cake?) while checking out a hot chick in slow motion. It’s a show about Frank’s (Tony Shalhoub) Asian fetish, where Stuart’s (Jerry O’Connell) only punchline is taking off his shirt, where Carter (Christopher Nicholas Smith) has to choose between basketball or a female (?), where the men hang out by pools and play video games and talk shit about women and are impossibly cool.

At one point, we learn that Gil (Kal Penn) cheated on his wife but because the affair he was having was so bad (the other woman didn’t always want to have sex, or something, sometimes she wasn’t in the mood haha that dumb female) we are supposed to feel sorry for him, I think? The scene is sort of written with some hint at sympathy for the Man Who Cheats but that can’t be true, right? There is no way we are supposed to cock our heads to the side and say “aww, poor baby Man isn’t having sex with two women, how sad,” right? Please tell me I’m wrong. Anyway, this is a show that exists on CBS (of course it’s on CBS) and that countless people read, watched, approved, thumbs up’d, and eagerly anticipated its premiere date. We are truly living in the golden age of television.

We Are Men is a show where the men put women into two categories: there is the awful controlling shrew beast who tells her husband who he can hang out with and what job he’s allowed to have; then there is the incredibly hot and young woman who only wears bikinis and doesn’t have any lines in the script. For these four men, women are either 40-year-olds who cry and yell or they are 20-year-olds who smile and fuck. There is also Frank’s daughter but let’s be honest: she is a young, hot girl who will more than likely smile and fuck Carter because he is a Man.

Beyond all of that bullshit, there isn’t much happening in this pilot. Carter is jilted at the altar, temporarily moves into the apartment complex, returns to his fiancé, then has his wedding interrupted by the Men who decide his wife his awful, and he moves back into the apartment complex where he is going to learn to be more of a man, I guess? I’m not sure what the thesis is. I’m sure the Men are going to toughen him up, are going to teach him to fuck and run (after all, he’s only had sex with one woman before and oh no, oh god, the Men can’t let that be), are going to help him become a basketball coach (no really, what?), and are going to play a lot of video games in the process. That’s what happens in these shows, right? I’m sure someone’s ex-wife will come back and the Men will have to save him from the evil claws of reconciliation. I’m sure two Men will fight over a woman. I’m sure the Men will drag Carter to night clubs and encourage him to have a one night stand that he probably does not want to have. I’m sure they will make fun of Carter for being nice. I’m sure they will drink many drinks and they will all learn things about themselves but haha no, they won’t. 

Dads (Tuesdays, 8pm on FOX)

We have already ranted plenty about Dads back when the preview was released so I don’t want to rehash all the same arguments but okay, fine, the show is awful. It’s disgustingly unfunny, hideously boring, a plague on your television set, etc. etc. As the world predicted, the pilot is full of overdone racist/sexist jokes. But that’s not all! It also features jokes that barely have punchlines, jokes that are nothing more than awkward and outdated references, jokes that start at the bottom and then manage to sink even lower, jokes that are not jokes but simply sentences punctuated by uproarious studio audience laughter. It’s the kind of laughter that makes you certain FOX was pumping something into that room or, at the very least, paying these people very well so they’d lose their shit at Seth Green stuttering or an old man dropping a towel. 

There are so many things to dislike about the pilot. The basic premise is lame. The fathers are completely interchangeable. (To a certain extent, so are Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi but the biggest difference is that one smokes a lot more weed; guess which one!) The entire cast overacts so much—Ribisi and Green are the biggest offenders—that it makes me cringe with secondhand embarrassment just to watch them deliver shitty lines. Every cast member is better than the writing they get, but it’s hard to tell in a show like this. The wife and maid are both unnecessary characters and it seems that they were just thrown in there so the show would be a little bit more than just four guys ogling Brenda Song. It’s true that pilots are incredibly hard to nail but let’s be honest: the second episode isn’t any better. 

It’s impossible not to bring up the “Brenda Song Dresses In An Asian Schoolgirl Outfit” bit that Dads has been shoving into our faces, though it’s just as pointless as stupid as expected. This speaks volumes to what Dads is trying to accomplish and just how miserably it’s failing at it. There has been so much talk about how offensive this show is but that’s not really the problem. It’s possible to craft an “offensive” joke/show that is funny and successful but that’s a long conversation reserved for a program that’s much smarter than this schlocky sitcom. The weirdest problem with Dads is the huge disconnect between what it thinks it is and what it actually is.

FOX has recently cut the Dads promos with negative reactions from critics in an attempt to seem cool and edgy, essentially saying “This show is so scandalous that only cool people will watch it!” It’s the approach usually taken by silly teen dramas (like Gossip Girl and MTV’s adaptation of Skins) when they want to piss off the Parents Television Council. Dads is the equivalent of a teenager trying to piss off his parents by smoking weed but his parents don’t give a shit because it’s 2013 and they’ve been smoking weed since the ‘70s. Dads prides itself so much on being offensive but the most offensive thing is the complete and total lack of laughs. It’s not a shocking comedy; it’s nothing more than a poorly done parody of a CBS sitcom.

Bottom line: It’s not a good show. It feels ten times longer than it is. It took a boring premise and turned it into a boring sitcom. It’s not even worth hate-watching. You won’t enjoy hating it. You’ll just wish you never watched. Your best bet is to just ignore the show completely and hope that it goes away, quickly and quietly, and that the creators slink away with their tails between their legs and no one ever speaks of it again. 

In news that is two seasons too late: TV Land’s ‘Happily Divorced’ Cancelled. (via)

In news that is two seasons too late: TV Land’s ‘Happily Divorced’ Cancelled. (via)

QUIZ: Are You A Franklin Or A Bash?

NBC’s Siberia premiered last night to rave reviews by Twitter fans (at least according to their commercial).

The show is a scripted drama parading itself as a reality TV show in the vein of Survivor. The premise is that 16 or so people (I don’t remember cause I don’t really care that much) are dropped in Siberia and have to live there with basically no rules AND THEN something terrible happens. The show then becomes a combination of Survivor meets any of those found footage movies like The Blair Witch Project or REC, but just not as good.

The creators should have spent a little more time watching the predecessor of this type of mock reality show gone wrong called Dead Set. Dead Set was a British series set during eviction night of Big Brother and also a zombie outbreak. Everything about Dead Set was perfect - the casting of the reality show ‘types’, the set, all the behind the scenes stuff that we all know must go on during the real taping of a show like Big Brother, and of course the zombies.

The satirical possibilities are abundant, and “Dead Set,” which was nominated for a Bafta (British Academy) award for best drama serial, deftly makes the connections between reality television and zombification. The screaming crowds that gather for the show’s “eviction” episode, waiting to taunt whichever cast member is voted out, become the zombies desperate to eat the housemates’ flesh. The show’s hateful producer (Andy Nyman) uses “Big Brother” psychology to manipulate a cast member into joining his escape plan. (“Do you know what they call you when you’re out of the room? Gollum.”) (via)

Maybe I’m jumping the gun here since it’s only been one episode, but everything Dead Set does right (even it’s first episode) Siberia does wrong. The attempts at humor are just that - attempts. I don’t care about any of the 16 ‘contestants’. The potential for smart commentary on Survivor or Survivor-type shows may still be coming, but I really don’t think so. 

Franklin and Bash, the best television show about bro lawyers who can’t stop playing with balls, returns for a third season next Wednesday. I visited Wikipedia to brush up on past seasons and picked out my some choice excerpts from the episode descriptions:

  • Franklin and Bash defend Isabella Kaplowitz (Natalie Zea), a celebrity being charged with murdering her husband, Harry (Cody Horstman) by having too much sex.
  • A plain woman believes she was fired from her high-profile position at a magazine company for being too attractive and seeks legal representation to get her job back.
  • Jared and Peter decide that for them to win a case, they have to go against each other while representing two pole-dancing instructors who are charged with stealing from their wealthy clients.
  • Judge Sturgess (Kathy Najimy) places Franklin and Bash on house arrest instead of contempt of court for having a lightsaber duel in her courtroom.