September 22, 2006

The Hilarious and the Horrific

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Starting new talk shows is always a gamble. Most of them fail or do so poorly in the ratings that they probably should have never been started at all. Why is this, you ask? Because there are too many of them! Due to the sheer number of established talk shows ranging from the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to Late Night with Conan O’Brien (the king of late night talk shows, I might add. . . don’t even bother trying to argue with me), a new talk show has the odds stacked up highly against it. This is a pity for Spike Feresten, the Emmy-nominated writer from Late Night with David Letterman and Seinfeld and new host of Talkshow with Spike Feresten, because his show is surprisingly good.

Feresten is aware of the high cancellation of talk shows, however, and pokes fun at the phenomenon. Within the first two minutes of the first show, the narrator talks about all the failed talk shows FOX has had already and announces that Feresten’s talk show “will almost certainly be canceled.” Despite this announcement, however, the show enthusiastically provides strange but hilarious comedy skits and stunts with both the crew and celebrities that are on.

The first show has Feresten walking the streets of Hollywood asking people to perform strange stunts, a staple among talk shows, yes, but Feresten’s is actually funny, unlike others (Leno, I’m looking at you). One skit featured an oddly-hilarious, stoned Abraham Lincoln strung with holiday lights dancing around and making random comments (“Slavery was a drag, MAN!” “Four score and seven joints ago. . .yeah, baby!” “John Wilkes Booth boguarded my life span!”) and a sketch where paparazzi run around taking pictures of celebrities and funny-looking random people in Hollywood.

Andy Richter later comes on and participates whole-heartedly in making fun of himself, with quotes such as “You left Conan O’Brien to find your own vehicle and that vehicle turned out to be a 1990 Dodge Omni,” “As an actor you’re neck in neck with Denise Richards, and your cans are only slightly smaller,” “To quote the great Conan O’Brien, ‘Hell yeah I can do a show without that guy!’” All in all, Feresten’s show is entertaining and passes by quickly. Although it seems a bit too similar to Conan O’Brien’s show with respect to the irreverent skits that both do, Feresten’s take will probably distinguish the two in the long run if his show does succeed, which hopefully, it will. O’Brien started out as a comedy writer on The Simpsons and SNL, and look where he is now.

It is also the beginning of the fall, and we all know what that means. That’s right! New television shows, half of which will get canceled! How I Met Your Mother on CBS started last fall, and was picked up again for this fall.

This show is quite horrific and boring, as I’m surprised to report, given the generally good reviews it’s gotten. And no, this doesn’t mean I don’t have good taste! I just know quality when I see it. And How I Met Your Mother doesn’t have it. But then again, I guess not every show can be as ingenious as Arrested Development, whose cancellation I still mourn to this day.

The first episode of How I Met Your Mother deals with Marshall breaking off his engagement with Lily because of an art fellowship she attends in San Francisco, and then pathetically trying to cling on to her once she leaves. Robin and Ted are now a couple who act so annoyingly in love with each other that you just want to shoot the TV screen with a shotgun. Doogy Howser, excuse me, Barney, is the same womanizer that he was before.

The acting in this series is so stilted and unnatural at times that you wonder why some of the actors were even hired. Alyson Hannigan (Lily) was great on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but absolutely horrible in her role on this show as her acting skills seem to have deteriorated over the years. None of the other actors are even worth mentioning except for Neil Patrick Harris, who is really much too good for such an average show.

Let’s hope he finds something better and that this show either gets canceled or develops better story lines with better characters who aren’t quite as irritating.