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.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

    New Girl - The Complete Season Three The Goldbergs - The Complete First Season The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Seventh Season Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season One How I Met Your Mother - The Ninth and Legendary Final Season

    Modern Family - The Complete Fifth Season Mom - The Complete First Season Mike & Molly - The Complete Fourth Season

    09/02 - Benson - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
    09/02 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Halloween Episodes Collection
    09/02 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season Nine
    09/02 - The League - The Complete Season Five
    09/02 - New Girl - The Complete Season Three
    09/02 - Soap - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
    09/02 - What's Happening!! - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
    09/09 - The Goldbergs - The Complete First Season
    09/11 - Growing Up Fisher - Season One
    09/16 - About a Boy - Season One
    09/16 - Awkward - Season 3
    09/16 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Seventh Season (Blu-ray/DVD)
    09/16 - South Park - Season 17 (Blu-ray)
    09/23 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season One
    09/23 - How I Met Your Mother - The Ninth and Legendary Final Season / The Complete Series
    09/23 - Mama's Family - The Complete Fifth Season / The Complete Collection
    09/23 - Modern Family - The Complete Fifth Season
    09/23 - Mom - The Complete First Season
    09/30 - The Donna Reed Show - Season 1 (MPI)
    09/30 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Fourth Season
    Other TV Series:
    09/02 - Grey's Anatomy - The Complete Tenth Season
    09/09 - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
    09/16 - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Fourteenth Season
    09/16 - Castle - The Complete Sixth Season
    09/23 - Nashville - The Complete Second Season
    09/23 - Scandal - The Complete Third Season
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Wednesday, October 1

    The Middle - "The Loneliest Locker" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Frankie and Mike scramble to find second jobs in a desperate attempt to afford sending Sue to a good college next year. Sue and Brad strive to do something different and important while writing, directing and starring in the senior play, entitled “The Loneliest Locker,” instead of eating the family out of house and home, Axl literally begins to take the home apart when he removes -- without asking -- as many household items as he can to furnish his and Hutch's new rented house, and Brick drives the family crazy when he finds a box containing all of his noisy and annoying childhood toys -- that were purposely stowed away by Frankie -- and begins playing with them.

    The Goldbergs - "Mama Drama" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Adam’s desire to be the lead in the school musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” goes unfulfilled when he’s cast in something other than the leading role. Insistent her son is a star, Beverly casts Adam in a rival show, but when he becomes too self-obsessed for the rest of the cast, Beverly makes a drastic decision. Meanwhile, Murray’s disdain for traffic results in leaving every sporting event early much to Barry’s dismay, including a Flyers game that ends with an unprecedented event. Actor and comedienne Ana Gasteyer guest stars.

    Modern Family - "Do Not Push" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    It’s Jay and Gloria’s anniversary and they can’t seem to get on the same page on what kind of gift to give – sentimental or expensive? And, the Dunphys head to Caltech for Alex’s college tour and while Claire is busy convincing her to choose this school and stay close to home, Phil, Luke and Haley branch off to participate in a psyche experiment. Mitch and Cam are taking a new family portrait with Lily to replace the old one above their mantel, but Lily gives some serious face.

    black-ish - "The Talk" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Dre, disappointed that Bow has already given Andre Jr. “the talk” because she thinks he’s too big of a prude to do it, decides to rectify matters by giving his son HIS version of “the talk.” But Dre soon finds himself wishing he’d left well enough alone when Andre Jr. starts to drive him crazy with non-stop questions about sex.

    The League - "The Hot Tub" (FXX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
    Kevin and Jenny get a hot tub, Taco shops for a new home, Pete tries to put an end to hand holding.

    Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Shawn" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Though Shawn thought she was looking for a man named Marcus, Todd discovers that Shawn is actually carrying his child.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 29) (All times ET unless noted)

    Wednesday, October 1

    • Cristin Milioti (A to Z/How I Met Your Mother) - Watch Cristin on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • John Mulaney (Mulaney) - John appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
    • Tim Allen (Last Man Standing/Home Improvement) - Tim stops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Stark Raving Mad/Doogie Howser, M.D.) - Neil continues to make the rounds on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also talks about Gone Girl on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
    • Patton Oswalt (The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Patton drops by The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Lena Dunham (Girls) - Lena is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
    • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Nasim Pedrad (Mulaney) - Tune in to see Nasim on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • Tom Lennon (Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Tom is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
    • Ana Gasteyer (Suburgatory) - Ana visits LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings. She will also be on The Better Show, so check your local listings.
    • Wanda Sykes (The New Adventures of Old Christine/Wanda at Large) - Wanda chats on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) - Christopher talks about being crowned the "best butt in primetime" and shares who he still keeps in touch with from SVU on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Entusiasm) - Jeff chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. He will also be on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York between 7-10am.
    • James Van Der Beek (Friends with Better Lives/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - James dishes with Rach on his new show, CSI: Cyber, and shares an adorable pic of his kids on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Reed Between the Lines/Girlfriends) - Tracee is a guest on Larry King Now at 2/5pm PT/ET on Ora.tv and Hulu.
    • Craig Robinson (The Office) - Craig discusses the USO Comedy Tour on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Kate Walsh (Bad Judge) - Kate will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
    • William Shatner ($#*! My Dad Says) - William discusses his new project Brown Bag Wine Tasting on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
    • Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia is a guest on The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 2am on BET.