Sunday, September 14, 2008

TV RECAP: "Do Not Disturb" (Ep. 1)

FOX doesn't exactly have a good reputation for 30-min comedy shows. They abruptly canceled their last series "Back to You," essentially because it wasn't paying for itself. The two leads were over-priced and the ratings weren't very high. So what do you do with a relatively good plot scheme (work-place comedy with opposing higher-ups and comical ensemble cast) that's too expensive to produce? Duh. You higher C list actors (Niecy Nash and Jerry O'Connell) who are cheaper per episode. That, of course, has disaster written all over it....or does it?

I'll admit that Nash ("Reno 911!") is a lot funnier when she's playing an overblown stereotype on Comedy Central void of all inhibitions and that the first 5 minutes weren't hilarious. BUT, if you kept watching (like I eventually did online), you would've discovered a few things:

1) The writers Abraham Higginbotham and John Quaintance, who sound like they made up last names in the event this comedy sucked, have written for previously funny comedies...albeit canceled ones. Higginbotham wrote for "Back to You," "Will & Grace," and "Arrested Development," and Quaintance wrote for "Notes from the Underbelly" and "Joey" (please disregard the fact that he co-wrote Hilary and Hayley Duff's Material Girls). Because of their years in the business, they were able to whip up little quips like these:
+ When the hotel workers are trying to figure out which office slut was described as "voracious" in a Time Out NY tell-all article and Molly (newcomer Jolene Purdy) suggests Nicole (Molly Stanton from "Twins" and "Passions") could be it, she responds: "I told you. I don't do drunk and voracious. It's like, I'm already drunk and naked, what more do you want?"
+ Stanton has been often typecast as a dumb blonde, but at least in this series where she plays an aspiring model, she's a dumb blonde with bite. When Molly, who I guess can be referred to as pleasantly plump, offers the number to her modeling agency, saying: "I'm a model. I model," Nicole bitchily responds, "I don't think you're using that word right." Cold, but funny.
+ And there are even a few racial jokes thrown in for good measure. Like when O'Connell's lecherous character Neal tries to uncover whether or not the African American Nash's Rhonda is sleeping with the African American security guard Billy (RonReaco Lee from "Sister, Sister"), going against the office policy she firmly scolded him for neglecting, he asks Molly if they'd been in Rhonda's office for long and Molly idiotically responds, "Are you implying what I think you're implying, because that's like super racist." I don't know what she means, but that was a dumb enough response to be funny.

2) The ensemble cast isn't half bad. Along with Stanton, Purdy, and Lee, there are two other guys who tickle our funny bone. There's the young bellhop Gus (newcomer Dave Franco from "Greek"), who fancies himself a mini-Neal and has a really mellow Cali-drone to his voice that makes every line he delivers seem like it's a joke even when it's not. And then there's Larry (Jesse Tyler Ferguson who was hilarious on "The Class"). I didn't catch his position at the hotel, but I do know he's gay, he's been in a relationship for five years, he's Nicole's cheerer-upper, and he has lowwwww self-esteem. Oh yeah, and he's a dork.

3) It just might last. Maybe not for several seasons like "Friends" or "Will & Grace," but at least through this one. As long as the lines get funnier and Nash loosens up a bit, there's a chance FOX might actually have a consistently funny series in one of their time opposed to that crap fest "Til Death" that proceeds it.

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