Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fall TV Preview - Cavemen - Pilot Training

Cavemen - Pilot - directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, written by Joe Lawson
Premieres Tuesday, October 2nd, 8pm on ABC

Yes. They did it. They actually made a sitcom out of the Geico commercial. And you know what? And I hate to say it, because I feel like it's going to make me lose all credibility or something (assuming I had any to begin with), but, the pilot (which may not be the first episode ABC shows apparently), is actually not that bad. At least, it's not the complete debacle I thought it was going to be. In fact, it's not even the worst pilot I've seen so far this year (that would go to Lipstick Jungle and maybe even Big Shots).

I still can't believe I'm typing this but Cavemen was actually okay. My co-worker who had read the original script found it incredibly offensive, and maybe it would be since he said that the creators said it wasn't meant to be any commentary on race or what not, but not knowing all that before I watched it, I thought the pilot was a pretty amusing allegory and social commentary on race and acceptance in America. It's not like it hasn't been said before, but considering what is still going on now, maybe needs to be repeated.

Essentially it's about three cavemen, nice caveman Joel, his idiot but sweet brother Andy, and sarcastic, droll, and intelligent-enough-to-fight-the-man friend Nick (who seems would be suited well on The Daily Show), in a world where cavemen live amongst people, where a veiled acceptance hides deeper bigotries towards their race. Essentially, replace "Caveman" with your choice of Black, Jews, Asians, Indians, Aborigines etc. etc. (I wouldn't throw gays in there because, well, gays would know to trim) and you could see the show as controversial and offensive or a biting satire. Of course, why couldn't they just make the characters black instead of Cavemen? Probably wouldn't be able to get away with as much, plus this way, it's supposedly more universal. Again, Jews would have worked just as much in the replacement game.

Joel (a likable Bill English, even beneath all the makeup and prosthetics) is engaged to beautiful blonde Kate (Kaitlin Doubleday) who invites them to her families high Southern society BBQ. Her father (John Heard) dislikes Joel already, and her mother is just always completely toasted (the hilarious Julie White, who just won the Tony for The Little Dog Laughed and was part of the reason why I wanted to check out this show, to see WHY she would sign onto this in the first place). Nick (Nick Kroll, Best Week Ever) knows the game the old boys club plays and beats them at their own game (at first), while Andy (Sam Huntington, another Jimmy Olsen in Superman Returns) becomes Thorne's (Stephanie Nicole Lemelin) dirty tryst to get back at her whitebread parents and her proper upbringing.

Honestly, at times watching the Cavemen was so odd, knowing actors were beneath, that even though there were funny lines, I didn't know if I should laugh, while other times, there were some awkward no-they-did-not-go-there points that I wasn't sure what to think. Some parts are still flat, almost because they almost try too hard to apologize for the concept in the first place and normalize as much as they could, but there were two moments when I laughed out loudly which of course, I didn't expect to at all. I still think this show could go either way. Extremely lame offensive sitcom or it could turn into a clever satire, or both (think 3rd Rock From The Sun, funny at first, lame by the end, or Family Guy, which I still don't get, the talking baby and dog just bug me, but I know people LOVE it so what do I know?). I still think the lack of male-hotness is a serious detriment to the show (seriously, the only reason I'm going to continue to tune into Big Shots is really for Michael Vartan, Nia Long is just bonus) because it's odd that we are basically watching three ugly cavemen (and too bad because Bill English is pretty good looking underneath all that makeup) and in the end, I'm not sure I can get past all that (I'm superficial okay? Sue me).

I was so ready to pounce on this show, ready to finally write a scathing hate-filled piece against the stupidity of Hollywood, but, this one quite isn't it. It isn't amazing and I'm not sure I would add this to my roster week after week, but it's not as horrendous as I thought it would be. Odd yes, clever? Sometimes. Funny? Sometimes, though when it hits a mark, it really hits it. Part of what could make it work is that it is making fun of the fact that we HAVE stereotypes in the first place by making fun of them directly, at least, towards Cavemen. I'm going to give it 2.5 Stars (**1/2) though I'm less likely to watch it than some other shows, even though I think it was less offensive than Big Shots, which I actually found quite offensive and unlikable at points (but Vartan... yes. Superficial. Me. Got it?).

Here is the promo video clip for Cavemen:


Bill English

Nick Kroll

Sam Huntington

Julie White

Kaitlin Doubleday

Stephanie Nicole Lemelin

No comments: