Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Caveman's Not Quite Valentine

CAVEMEN has been the target of derision since its inclusion on ABC's fall TV schedule was announced. A sitcom based on car insurance ad characters? Did no one learn the lesson of BABY BOB? Add in accusations of the show being racially insensitive (or worse), a poorly received pilot episode unseen by the general public, news of creative retooling, and cast changes--all before the program hit the air. If the show wasn't dead on arrival, surely it wouldn't last.

I don't slow down to look when passing accidents on the side of the road, but CAVEMEN was one disaster I couldn't wait to relish in its sure-to-be brief but spectacular ignominy. I set the cable company DVR to record the series and settled in to watch the first episode. Some of the GEICO Cavemen commercials were mildly amusing, so I was willing to give it a chance.

After all the advance fuss the show created and knives that were out, I was disappointed to encounter a mediocre single camera sitcom instead of the supernova of suckitude I'd been expecting and, to be honest, wanting. New episodes keep appearing on the DVR, so I've continued watching with the hope that it will get much, much worse. It hasn't.

Sure, CAVEMEN won't be mistaken for good television, and I can't imagine it will be long for this world. The caveman makeup isn't particularly good, and most of the characters are annoying more than anything. Nevertheless, I will concede that it has drawn a few laughs from me, mostly from the secondary character (and original ad caveman) Maurice, played by Jeff Daniel Phillips. Unlike the neurotic primaries, Maurice is more unrefined, uninhibited, and, well, caveman-like.

The show haphazardly walks the fine line between biting social commentary and bad taste, more often lapsing into the latter. The fourth episode had an inspired storyline about an offensive high school nickname ("Savages") and grossly caricatured mascot. Coming on the heels of a mini brouhaha over how some Cleveland Indians fans were outfitted, it even had some timeliness. CAVEMEN deals out way too many lame and potentially problematic jokes steeped in racial stereotypes to get sufficient credit for taking the high ground, although it has discovered one hate-worthy group that won't stir up letter-writing protesters: those scurrilous hipsters.

My DVR informs me that another episode awaits viewing tonight. I guess there's nothing to do but not enjoy it while it lasts.

1 comment:

  1. I accidentally watched a full ten minutes of this show. I turned the tv on and there they were playing racquetball and I thought it was another Geico commercial. I was waiting for the so easy a caveman could do it and it never came. I was still confused after the real commercials started. I didn't finish the episode because I felt cheated out of my punchline.