Fall 2011 Review: Allen Gregory

22 Dec

Most failed comedies are trying their hand at one type of show or another and failing. Last Man Standing tries to capture the traditional family sitcom genre, of which Everybody Loves Raymond is the recent king (The King of Queens for a more recent, but less acclaimed version) and certainly memories of Home Improvement are in mind with Tim Allen on board. I Hate My Teenage Daughter seems to want to capture the dysfunctional family sitcom – the Roseannes, or slightly lower, the Grace Under Fires. Allen Gregory tries to capture the edgier, animated comedy, in the mode of its Sunday night Fox-mates, Family Guy and American Dad. However, watching the show made me think of another successful animated comedy, Archer. Allen Gregory is about a precocious and pretentious seven year old who after years of home-schooling and being told he’s the best thing since sliced bread is being enrolled in a public school where he has to deal with the fact that he’s kind of a loser.  He’s got two loving gay parents, one of whom is his natural parent and is voiced by French Stewart, and an adopted Cambodian sister who is the most normal family member but whom Allen and his dad constantly mistreat.  Allen is voiced by Jonah Hill and is pretty much a giant dick, in the mode of Sterling Archer from Archer, but he’s just not as funny in any way.

Archer, and to a lesser extent, The Venture Bros. both walk a fine line by having their main character be a giant dick. This is difficult to maintain. When the main character is someone we like, we’re much more willing to cut them slack or leeway. However, when the main character is a dick it had better fucking be entertaining or hilarious (see:  the very polarizing reactions that Young Adult, in which Charlize Theron plays a total bitch has drawn). The jokes that revolve around how funny he is as a dick need to be spot on, or you’re just watching a guy being a giant dick, and it just feels awkward and you feel bad for everyone around him.  The creators of Allen Gregory really should watch both seasons of Archer if they haven’t already. The setting is very different, but that’s exactly the humor they’re going for. Archer just does it better. They could learn some lessons there.

The show takes a stab much closer at the type of humor I enjoy, than say, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, to its credit I suppose, but unfortunately it keeps missing. The creators probably enjoying watching funny shows, but they just don’t have the writing or editing ability to replicate them.  The first episode didn’t even show any evidence of being near the mark and it didn’t even have the one or two hilarious moments that sustain even the lesser Family Guy or American Dad episodes.

Will I watch it again?

No, it wasn’t good, and I have no reason to think it will improve in the future. There was no sign that this show was close to finding solid footing and just a  tweak would make the difference.  Back to the drawing board.  Hopefully, we’ll get some new animated shows better than this in the near future.

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