Friday, April 17, 2009

Fox Mid-Season Pilot Review: Sit Down, Shut Up - Premieres April 19; ABC Family Change; GSN Awards

Sit Down Shut Up

Sit Down, Shut Up - Sundays 8:30PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 8:30PM ET/PT

There is a new kid on the block on Fox's Sunday night animation lineup, and this time it comes from Emmy Award-winning writer Michael Hurwitz of the series Arrest Development. Sit Down, Shut Up is an animated comedy about the staff of Knob Creek High School, a high school in a small Florida town, and much like in the drama series Boston Public, we find that the teachers can have as many (if not more) problems than their students. There is the acting principal Sue Sezno, and as the name suggests, she always says no. Of course, the upbeat vice principal Stuart Prozakian is always there to counter-balance her at all times. And there is an entire ensemble cast of teachers with their own respective problems.


Cast Details:

* Will Arnett as Ennis Hofftard
* Jason Bateman as Larry Littlejunk
* Kristen Chenoweth as Miracle Grohe
* Will Forte as Stuart Proszackian
* Tom Kenny as Happy
* Nick Kroll as Andrew LeGustambos
* Cheri Oteri as Helen Klench
* Kenan Thompson as Sue Sezno
* Henry Winkler as Willard Deutschebog


Will Arnett (Ennis) is best known to sitcom fans in his role as Gob Bluth on the series Arrested Development, but has also had many film roles including roles in Ice Age: The Meltdown, RV, and Monster-in-Law. He has also recently completed filming two upcoming films, G-Force and When in Rome.

Jason Bateman (Larry) is known to sitcom fans from the series Arrested Development and the 80s sitcoms Silver Spoons and The Hogan Family. He has also played roles in the films The Ex, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, and Starsky & Hutch. He has recently signed a deal to develop, direct, and write original content for 20th Century Fox Television.

Kristen Chenoweth (Miracle) was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for her role in the series Pushing Daises and also has credits from the series Ugly Betty and The West Wing. She will soon be in the upcoming David E. Kelly legal drama Legally Mad.

Will Forte (Stuart) has spent several years on the series Saturday Night Live, and is considered to be a rising comedy star by many critics. He has also been in the films Baby Mama and Beerfest.

Tom Kenny (Happy) is no stranger to fans of animated series, as he is the voice of the very popular character SpongeBob SquarePants. He has also played roles in the Nickelodeon series CatDog and Rocko's Modern Life, and countless other animated series. In addition, he has made appearances at comedy clubs across the country and on the late night talk shows.

Nick Kroll (Andrew) is an up-and-coming actor that has starred in Cavemen, Best Week Ever, Worst Week, The Life and Times of Tim, and Reno 911. He is also a writer that co-authored the book "Bar Mitzvah Disco" and was a contributing writer on Chappelle's Show. He has also done some standup comedy at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival as well as the Bonnaroo Festival.

Cheri Oteri (Helen) is known for her years on Saturday Night Live, and has also appeared in many films including Scary Movie, Inspector Gadget, Liar Liar, and Shrek the Third, among many others. She has had several guest appearances on series such as Just Shoot Me, Strangers with Candy, and Boston Legal.

Kenan Thompson (Sue) is another Saturday Night Live actor (currently in his fifth season) that is also known to a generation of youth that grew up on Nickelodeon in the 90s from the series Kenan and Kel as well as All That. He also starred with Kel Mitchell on the feature film Good Burger. Other major film credits for Thompson include Snakes on a Plane, Fat Albert, D2: The Mighty Ducks, and Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Henry Winkler (Williard) is the true "veteran" of the cast, known to fans all around the world as "The Fonz" from the hit sitcom Happy Days. He has also served as a producer for series including MacGyver, Hollywood Squares, Sightings, So Weird, among others. In 2003, he began writing a series of children's novels entitled "Hank Zipzer: The World's Most Amazing Underachiever," which are inspired by his struggle with learning challenges. He has also appeared on Arrested Development.


Pilot Plot:

For the review, we had the first and second episode of the series. The series is scheduled to air 5 of its 13 produced episodes for now, all in five consecutive weeks.

#1 "Pilot" (Airs April 19) - Knob Haven High School is facing some serious budget problems, and Sue Sezno knows the way to repair the budget problems: by soliciting donations from alumni. But the alumni will only be willing to do that if they can win the upcoming football game.

#2 "Miracle's Are Real" (Airs April 26) - Miracle Grohe decides to spread some spring cheer by giving her fellow colleagues some flowers (which actually turn out to be hemlock), placing the school into another financial crisis. The school carnival is the way to make this money, but this causes a bit of trouble between Sue Sezno and Helen Klench.


Analysis:

Catchphrases, stereotypes, and clichés. That is all that I saw in the two episodes that I received to review. The series lacks substance, and without that substance, it can't go very far. Over and over again, we are reminded in both of these episodes that Sue Sezno always says no, that Stuart Proszakian used to be a prison clown, that Ennis Hofftard is a womanizing jock, that Miracle Grohe has a baby that she carries with her at all times, that Willard Deutschbog is having a miserable life... I think that pretty much drives home my point. But where does the series go from that point? I can't see any real direction for the series in these two episodes.

It doesn't help either that the ensemble cast on the series is big--way too big in fact. There are basically nine different characters that make up the core cast of the series, and the writers have attempted to place every single one of these characters in a plotline in each episode. It would have been better to have had each episode focus on one major plot with just a few of the characters, but instead, with the series as it is, all we really have time for is several mini-plots that just reinforce the catchphrases, stereotypes, and clichés.

Both of the first two episodes basically focus on the same thing: budgetary problems at the school and how to fix those financial issues. One has to wonder if this is pretty much the direction that many or most episodes will go in. So far, it doesn't appear that there is much variety in the plots of the episodes, which doesn't matter anyway because the series doesn't have time to develop much of a plot with all of the characters and the catchphrases, stereotypes, and clichés. There were a few "chuckle" moments in the episodes, but there really wasn't anything that caused me to burst out into laughter. It is a shame, really, because I can see that with the characters and background of the series, that this could have the potential to be that kind of series.

However, one thing that I did think was a little nice and creative was the use of live action backgrounds for some of the scenes in the series. It reminded me a lot of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and it is surprising that this style hasn't been used that much in other animated sitcoms.


Conclusion:

I honestly believe that this will be another one of the many Fox series that doesn't make it, although I could be wrong about that. Unlike the other animated series on Fox, this series is just too full of catchphrases and stereotypes to a point where it becomes outright obnoxious. The series really sounded good when I read about it, but there is some disconnect between the concept and what we actually have here. Not only is the series inconsistent with the other animated series on the Fox Sunday night lineup, but matters are only made worse by the fact that the series isn't that funny.

Still, I feel like the series could have the potential to be a good series under the right circumstances, but there is no way this show could go on for years--or even more than a handful of episodes for that matter--by repeating catchphrases, clichés, and stereotypes all the time. The series could work well if it had well-written storylines that were funny or even outright absurd (such as the ones on Family Guy), but the series just isn't meant to make it in the form that it is seen on the premiere episodes. I've been wrong about these things before, but I have a feeling that the series will be off the air before many episodes are even aired.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 3/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 04/17/09

Discuss the show after you watch it on Sunday, April 19 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Sit Down, Shut Up Photo Gallery



  • Now back to the news. ABC Family's original sitcoms Roommates and Sophie are not doing that well in the ratings. They air Mondays back-to-back starting at 9:00PM ET/PT. Now ABC Family is removing the encore airings that air late Tuesday nights at 12:00am & 12:30am, and replacing them with Whose Line Is It Anyway? starting this Tuesday (April 21). So if you watch these shows and like them, watch them live on Monday nights because now there will be no encore airings.

    GSN announced that it will make television history with The Game Show Awards - the very first awards show exclusively aimed at celebrating excellence in the genre of games. The two and a half-hour, star-studded extravaganza will premiere on June 6, 2009 starting at 8PM ET/7PM CT only on GSN, and will honor classic and contemporary game shows, with special tributes to pioneers Bob Barker (The Price is Right), legendary game show producer Mark Goodson, and host Monty Hall (Let's Make a Deal). In keeping with the participatory nature of game shows and GSN's programming, fans will be able to vote for their favorite nominees online at GSN.com in several categories, including best/favorite host, model, announcer, contestant, catch phrase, sound effect and others.
    View the full details an categories for the first annual Game Show Awards.

    Stay tuned next week as we give you some classic TV sitcom appearances on game shows on GSN, in case you never saw them...and a sitcom is coming to CMT for a special weekend.


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    • Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/30 Rock) - Catch Tituss on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
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