Friday, January 13, 2012

Fox Mid-Season Pilot Review: Napoleon Dynamite - Premieres January 15; Sitcom Stars On Talk Shows (Week of January 16, 2012)


Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite - Sundays at 8:30PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 8:30PM (regular time) and 9:30PM ET/PT

by skees53

From the big screen to the small screen, and from live-action to animation, Napoleon Dynamite is back! The 2004 film starring Jon Heder as the title character is back, eight years later, as Fox's newest animated series. Once again, you can follow the lives of Napoleon, Kip, Grandma, and of course, Pedro, as he struggles to deal with the trauma (well, mostly the hilarity) of being a very socially awkward teenager in the heart of Idaho. The new series brings back all of the same characters and even the same actors from the original movie, but this time they're all "drawn out" instead of acting in the series.

Cast Details:

Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite
Aaron Ruell as Kip Dynamite
Efren Ramirez as Pedro
Tina Majorino as Deb
Sandy Martin as Grandma Dynamite
Jon Gries as Uncle Rico
Diedrich Bader as Rex

Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) plays the socially awkward teenager and the star of the series. Heder has had roles in the movies The Benchwarmers, Mama's Boy, and Blades of Glory, but clearly, he is best known for playing the movie role of the character that he plays in this series.

Aaron Ruell (Kip Dynamite) plays the role of Napoleon's 32-year-old brother who still lives with Grandma Dynamite. Besides Ruell's role in the movie, he is an accomplished director and photographer for television commercials.

Efren Ramirez (Pedro) reprises his classic role of Pedro, Napoleon's shy friend from Mexico, in the series. Ramirez has starred in movies such as Employee of the Month and made cameo appearances in movies such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Nacho Libre. He has appeared in TV series such as Boston Public, George Lopez, and Scrubs.

Tina Majorino (Deb) plays the role of the door-to-door sales woman who may have a crush on Napoleon. She has had regular roles in Camp Wilder, Big Love, and Veronica Mars, and also has appeared in roles in popular music videos.

Sandy Martin (Grandma Dynamite) plays the role of Napoleon and Kip's grandmother, who has the job of raising the two. Martin has appeared in movies such as 48 Hrs. and Speed, and also had a recurring role in Big Love.

Jon Gries (Uncle Rico) plays the role of the uncle who lives in a trailer, but often pops by. Gries has had roles in series such as The Pretender, Lost, Martin, and 24.

Diedrich Bader (Rex) plays the role of the local martial arts instructor. Bader has appeared in The Drew Carey Show, Office Space, and most recently, on the series Outsourced.


Pilot Plot:

For this review, we received a copy of the first two episodes of the series.

"Thundercone" (airs January 15 at 8:30PM ET/PT)
Napoleon has a serious acne problem that must be taken care of by any means necessary, and a trip to the drug store leads him to the last tube of a powerful (but recently banned) cream. Using the cream has serious consequences, but the best one for Napoleon is his ability to resist any pain. This allows him to join a local fight club, and while training for a big fight in the "Thundercone," Napoleon is noticed and admired by Kip's girlfriend (special guest star Amy Poehler). How will Kip get his girl back, and get even with his brother?

"Scantronica Love" (airs January 15 at 9:30PM ET/PT)
Professor Koontz (guest star Jermaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords) decides to use a Scantron machine to match students up romantically, but not all goes well when Napoleon is paired with a Japanese exchange student (Lauren Tom) instead of Deb. The matching, along with others, ends with problems for everybody.


Analysis:

The very first thing that I thought about this series before I even watched it was probably what many others are thinking. The movie was made in 2004 and it is now eight years later. Isn't it too late for a TV version of Napoleon Dynamite? Not necessarily. In fact, in my opinion, if the movie had that much of an impact to even be remembered eight years later, perhaps it does deserve to be a TV series, as opposed to the practice of making a TV series out of a movie just weeks or months after the movie hits theaters.

As for the quality of the series, I somewhat enjoyed the first two episodes of the series. Fox has planted some major bombs with some of their Sunday night animated series in recent years, and a lot of series that are just plain awful have made it to that lineup, almost all of which are quickly cancelled. However, when watching the first two episodes of this series, I really felt that there was a serious effort to make a realistic (to a certain limit) series that is meant to be enjoyed without any cheap shots or crass humor.

One potential bump that I can see for the series, though, is how well it'll actually fit into the Sunday night lineup. Admittedly, cheap shots and crass humor are what make up the core of Fox's animated sitcom lineup. And for all of the Seth MacFarlane series (and to a lesser extent for The Simpsons), this is what makes those series enjoyable and humorous. But as many fans of Napoleon Dynamite may know, the movie was known as being family-friendly fare without violence, sex, and inappropriate language, and other things along those lines. From the two episodes that I viewed, it appears that the series will be the same way, which is great for family viewing, but the question is whether or not that formula will work in a lineup where it is followed by Family Guy.

I should definitely give a disclaimer before I conclude my analysis. I have never actually seen the movie Napoleon Dynamite from beginning to end. So I really can't fully say how this series compares to the movie. However, from what I have seen of the movie, this series does seem to hold true to the core ideas of the movie.


Conclusion:

Honestly, I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed watching this series. It is something a little bit different from the ordinary, and had some great moments. Assuming that fans of the movie are interested in more, I think that those same fans will enjoy this series. Of course, the series may face challenges in recapturing that audience, and it may also suffer since it almost doesn't completely fit in with the other Sunday night series (even if it is an enjoyable series). In the days before federally mandated E/I programming, this series likely would have been made into a Saturday morning cartoon, where it would have been certain to succeed. Still, I'm anxious to see how this series develops and where it'll go, and unlike many pilots that I have seen in recent years, this is one that I would sincerely like to see succeed. So don't be a "frickin' idiot." Check out Napoleon Dynamite!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Sunday, January 15 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Napoleon Dynamite Photo Gallery

    Preview:






    It's Friday, so it is time for "Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows" for the coming week. This is where we list what sitcom stars are appearing on talk shows for the coming week, the stars are both current and past sitcom stars, so this is for all sitcom fans of all eras!
    For the week of January 16-20, 2012, we have many current sitcom stars and past sitcom stars on TV talk shows! All times listed are Eastern. So get your DVR's (or whatever you use) ready! Ready? Here is all what you need to know for the coming week!

    Monday, January 16, 2012
    • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) - Watch Melissa on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • David Cross (Arrested Development) - David appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 12am on ABC.
    • Giovanni Ribisi (Still the Beaver/My Two Dads) - Giovanni is a guest on Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
    • Sofia Vergara (Modern Family/The Knights of Prosperity/Hot Properties) - Sofia visits The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check listings.
    • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Doogie Howser, M.D.) - Neil joins the Chew Crew on The Chew on ABC at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
    Tuesday, January 17, 2012
    • Sherri Shepherd (Less Than Perfect) - Catch Sherri on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Bill Cosby (The Cosby Show/Cosby/The Bill Cosby Show) - The legendary Mr. Cosby visits Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:37am on NBC.
    • Regina King (227) - Regina appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Suzanne Somers (Three's Company/Step by Step/She's the Sheriff) - Suzanne cooks recipes to keep you sexy forever on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Kyla Pratt (One on One) - Kyla stops by The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
    • Kim Coles (Living Single) - Kim visits the Chew Crew on The Chew on ABC at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
    Wednesday, January 18, 2012
    • Mark Feuerstein (Good Morning, Miami) - Watch Mark NBC's Today between 7-9am and later on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • Mario Lopez (Saved by the Bell) - Mario guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • Queen Latifah (Living Single) - Queen Latifah visits The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
    Thursday, January 19, 2012
    • Kathy Griffin (Suddenly Susan) - Catch Kathy on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Wanda Sykes (The New Adventures of Old Christine/Wanda at Large) - Wanda drops by The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP) - Keke appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 12am on ABC.
    • Norm Macdonald (The Norm Show/A Minute with Stan Hooper) - Norm visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Mark Feuerstein (Good Morning, Miami) - Mark joins the Chew Crew on The Chew on ABC at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
    Friday, January 20, 2012
    • Carla Gugino (Spin City/Entourage) - Watch Carla on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    Leave us comments on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us to let us know what you think of this Friday feature! We do listen!

  • Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Thursday, October 19

    Superstore - "Workplace Bullying" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Tensions arise among the employees after an attempted robbery, pitting Dina (Lauren Ash) against Jonah (Ben Feldman). Meanwhile, Glenn (Mark McKinney) has a tough time firing the store security guard, and Amy (America Ferrera) discovers that her coworkers have been hanging out without her.

    The Good Place - "The Trolley Problem" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and Eleanor (Kristen Bell) tackle a famous ethical dilemma, leading to a conflict with Michael (Ted Danson). Meanwhile, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) harbors a secret and confides in Janet (D'Arcy Carden).

    Will & Grace - "Grandpa Jack" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Jack (Sean Hayes) is stunned to learn that his estranged son, Elliot (guest star Michael Angarano) has a son of his own, Skip (guest star Jet Jurgensmeyer). Moreover, Skip needs the kind of help only Will (Eric McCormack) and Jack can provide. Grace (Debra Messing) and Karen (Megan Mullally) behave badly with the hot new guy at work.

    Great News - "Award Show" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    For the first time in years, "The Breakdown" has been nominated for an American Journalism Award. Katie (Briga Heelan) is looking forward to spending the night as a peer with the very reporters she has admired her whole life. Fearing her mother will ruin it, Katie tries to stop Carol (Andrea Martin) from attending but is unsuccessful when Carol secures a position as a seat-filler. Katie is stuck babysitting her mom all night but gets distracted by Jeremy (guest star Reid Scott), a handsome New York Times reporter who looks down on cable news. Chuck (John Michael Higgins) is excited to reunite with all of his old anchormen friends, especially Len Archer (guest star Christopher McDonald), an idol of Chuck's who is receiving a lifetime achievement award.

    Better Things - "Eulogy" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Sam demands satisfaction.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 16)

    Thursday, October 19

    • Tracy Morgan (30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show) - Catch Tracy on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Paul Shaffer (A Year at the Top) - Paul sits in with Cleto and The Cletones on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) - Jim is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Michael Keaton (Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Amy Landecker (Transparent) - Amy is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Carl Reinder (The Dick Van Dyke Show) - Carl appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Garcelle Beauvais (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Garcelle guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Cedric Yarbrough (Speechless/Reno 911!) - Cedric is a guest on Steve, so check your local listings.
    • Angela Kinsey (Haters Back Off/Your Family or Mine/The Office) - Angela talks about the new season of her Netflix show Haters Back Off on the People Now at 8:30am.
    • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Out of Practice) - Henry is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Hayley Orrantia (The Goldbergs) - Hayley appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Joanna Garcia Swisher (Reba/Better with You) - Joanna teams up with Michael Symon in the kitchen, giving the scoop on her new show and whipping up a tasty dish on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. She also talks about Kevin (Probably) Saves the World on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
    • Redman (Method & Red) - Redman appears on the AOL Build Show at 3pm.
    • Debra Messing and Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) - Debra and Eric are guests on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

    Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

    06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
    06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
    06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
    06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
    06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
    07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
    07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
    07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
    07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
    08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
    08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
    08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
    08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
    08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest