Summer 2015 Review: The Jim Gaffigan Show

17 Jul

The Jim Gaffigan Show

The Jim Gaffigan Show attempts to pull the trick that relatively few shows have pulled off, and which Modern Family has pulled off most successfully – to relatively modernize the classic sitcom. Modern Family brings in the single camera and cuts the laugh track, but leaves in the close knit family, the wacky hijinks, and the heart. I don’t particularly care for the show on the whole, but episode to episode, and scene-to-scene, I’ve seen plenty of moments that have that formula working.

The Jim Gaffigan Show takes this strange and maybe worthy goal on, ultimately unsuccessfully. The ‘90s were dominated by family-oriented sitcoms, with the last two great editions being Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of James before the genre largely died out as a major force. The genre was both medium and message; there was a format – multi-camera with big canned laughs and a lot of big obvious punchlines – and a style – warm, family friendly, not too edgy. Most revivals of the style have brought back both elements, leaving them to appear extremely outdated. Modern Family hit the jackpot, bringing in both traditional sitcom watchers and younger viewers who also enjoyed The Office.

The Jim Gaffigan Show is another attempt to mix modern form with traditional style comedy in the wake of Modern Family. It has everything you could want – a hype-immature American male (think: Tim Taylor or Ray Barone or Phil Dunphy) who has juvenile tendencies, who knows his wife is far more competent and put together than he is, but occasionally wants to show that he can do parenting and life too, if he can get himself off the couch for five minutes. There’s a classic TV mix up in the pilot. Jim has three letters, two to deliver, and one to take home and he confuses them hanging the letters to the wrong recipients. The poor husband can’t even get one thing right. Luckily, through a serious of screwball happenings, his mistake turns out not to matter, until something else that came up earlier does, but at the end Jim and co. are a sweet, loving, happy family and that’s all that matters. There’s a schlubby-but-lovable-and-funny TV husband married to a much younger, more attractive women, who can’t help but love his foibles at the end of the day because he means well even as she does all the work.

Jim Gaffigan is a funny guy, and that, well kind of comes through in the show, which is about the nicest thing you can say about it. It comes through mostly when Jim is just talking, exposing his natural timing and humorous cadences. Everything else, though. It’s the same old, It’s not cringeworthy, but it’s surprisingly unsophisticated and thoroughly medicore.

Will I watch it again? No. I like Jim Gaffigan’s stand up, but he’s probably a traditionalist at heart, and this sitcom really shows it off. The sheen may be more modern, but the sitcom is gooey, boring, clichéd, and most importantly not funny.

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