Tag Archives: TV Land

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 Most revivals of the style have brought back both elements, leaving them to appear extremely outdated.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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Summer 2014 Review: Jennifer Falls

25 Aug

Jennifer Falls

(I’ve fallen way behind on both my TV viewing and writing, but not to worry – dear reader – I don’t give up that easy – I’ve rapidly been viewing the first episode of every new television show of 2014, with the intent of seeing them all by the end of August. To facilitate a respective blog catchup, I’ll be posting lots of much shorter entries on each show)

TV Land does something that almost no one else on TV really does anymore. TV Land, a network, which didn’t produce original scripted programming until debuting Hot in Cleveland four years ago, makes old-school traditional 90s-and-earlier style sitcoms (ABC Family does it here and there). Now, CBS sitcoms still have a lot in common with the past, but they tend to be coarser, more offensive,sometimes gross-out, sometimes misogynist; they’re certainly linked to the sitcoms of old, but they feel less wholesome. TV Land’s Jennifer Falls certainly has a couple of modern adjustments – main character Jennifer was a high-powered female businesswoman, raking in tons of cash, when she got fired for being impossible to work with, and the topic of women being considered bossy is touched on, although not spend a lot of time with.

While it makes these couple of winks at modernity, Jennifer Falls is a traditional sitcom at heart. After moving out of her expensive apartment in the big city, she’s got to go home and bond with her mother, her daughter, and her old best friend, who is bitter with her because she abandoned their friendship to chase big money years ago. The show deals with classic television redemption, as she realizes somewhat that her life was hollow filled with just work, and without friends (to its credit, the show makes this point without ever seeming to imply anything negative about women at high-paying jobs; the show, without pushing it, is modern enough on that matter). Jennifer, who can’t find a job anywhere after her ignominious firing, reluctantly takes a pity job offer at the bar owned by her brother and sister-in-law, who gives Jennifer constant patronizing life lessons while her brother is afraid to speak up.

The jokes are canned, the laugh track is present, and you’ve met all of these characters before. It’s not, for what it’s worth, mean-spirited though, the characters seem to actually, mostly like each other, and there’s as much underlying warmth as an incredibly mediocre sitcom first episode can have. So it has that going for it. You’re not going to watch it, and you shouldn’t, but there’s something to be said for TV Land’s ability to adopt the old-fashioned sitcom for the modern age, as least from a technical perspective. But that’s about it.

Will I watch it again? No, it’s not worth watching and it’s not funny. That said, it’s pleasantly inoffensive, and carries on the legacy of old-time sitcoms into a new era, if that does anything for you.