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|Index||22 reviews in total|
Ellen DeGeneres' "Ellen" showcased the versatility of one of the best
comedians of the 90s. She exhibited the physical comedy of a modern day
Lucille Ball, dry wit descended from Jack Benny, and jabbing one-liners
like Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam were whispering in her ears.
The supporting cast (especially Piven and Fisher) and guest stars played well off DeGeneres. When the writers finally got a handle on the cast the writing was priceless. They weren't afraid to drop in wry insights among the "jokes."
"Ellen" was a groundbreaking sitcom, and like most pioneering shows, it wasn't supported by a fearful network. It's unfortunate that Ellen's sexuality became the focus of the press and the show. Maybe if the show wasn't constantly trying to break free of network restrictions and fear the writers and actors could have taken "Ellen" into a strong finish. Instead it petered out. Nevertheless, catch any episodes you can on cable.
Together with Seinfeld and Friends, it's another top American comedy show that we are viewing frequently in the U.K. recently. When I say "top", I mean "top notch". In the 70's and 80's I was used to switching off American comedies, but these 3 shows have made me reconsider my bias! I particularly like the way Ellen introduces so many irrelevancies into her dialogue, she kind of says what other people would only think but not dare say for fear of being boring. At some point in the series she declares herself to be gay, and while it obviously changes the direction of the show a little, it doesn't get heavy going about it and is still as funny as ever no matter what your tendencies. I love all the other characters too; the show was better for the entry of Audrey, Paige and cousin Adam - they each have their own very identifiable traits that enrich the plot. The cousin is particularly funny, especially in scenes together with Paige.
"Ellen" started out as a pleasant comedy made watchable by the funny
and talented Ellen DeGeneres. It ended up a groundbreaking show with
tons of humor and probably the best finale in TV history.
The first season of "Ellen," as stated above, was cute. The show was reworked so that in the second season, Ellen had a new group of friends, all of whom could hold their own with her (Joley Fisher, David Anthony Higgins, Jeremy Piven, and Clea Lewis' role was expanded). The show became much funnier and snappier. And in the fourth season, Ellen "came out" to a therapist (Oprah Winfrey) and admitted that the man she had fallen for was named Susan.
The hate mail was unbelievable -- even Winfrey received a ton of hate mail and was verbally attacked on her TV show for even appearing on this pivotal episode. There were also boycotts by groups including, as often mentioned on the show's jokes, the Baptists.
The network didn't laugh and canceled the show. When you think about series such as "Will & Grace," and "Modern Family" on the networks, and all the gay characters on shows like "Six Feet Under" on cable - wow, a lot of doors were opened by Ellen Morgan coming out.
Ellen DeGeneres is a unique talent, with deadpan delivery and a habit of talking nervously and trailing off mid-sentence which is very, very funny. She also has a decent knack for physical comedy. Surrounding herself with a great cast, well-developed characters and scriptwriters, the show was delightful.
In the finale, Ellen Morgan is interviewed as a living legend, and her life is shown going back to the 1920s and takes her up to the "big reveal" on her sitcom - which isn't what you think it's going to be. Hilarious, and so well done.
I don't know what kind of person Ellen is, except that she's an animal lover and has family support -- but everything she does, including her talk show, has an aura of warmth and high spirits. "Ellen" the sitcom was no exception, and if you didn't watch it when it was on the air, check it out. It's still very fresh.
I loved and miss her show. What a fresh and interesting new comedy. Ellen helped open the eyes of America on gay issues, but did not dwell on it or shove it down our throats. It was down tactfully and with class. Her new talk show is good, but doesn't measure up to the freshness and originality of "Ellen" the sitcom. Anyone who has a problem with her coming out on the show, must be insecure with their own sexuality. She did it in a way that I allowed my kids to watch. It opened up discussions with my kids and made it easy and fun to discuss human sexuality with them. Ellen helped America drop their guard with the gay issues. She provided an excellent comedy that was appropriate for the entire family. Parents who can not talk about sexuality with their kids need help. We love you Ellen !
If there was ever a true American heroine it is Ellen. This great woman puts the c in courage, the d in dignity and the g in great. That she is a warm, wonderful human being and side-splittingly funny is just so much gravy. She and her great ensemble cast made every episode first class. Ellen's character was always so good-hearted, thats what I liked the most about her.
I didn't rate it because I have no idea how to rate this series.
Season 1 was pretty solid, and my personal favorite. The style was close to Friends', and it was pretty fun. Anita and Holly and Adam were all fun and ordinary nice people. They're like your best friends - fun and nice and when you're together you just have these sort of silly funny moments. It wasn't as good as Friends, and also a bit inferior to the first few seasons of How I met your mother, but it was quite good. A 7 or an 8.
The following seasons had a different gang, and it really seemed that they tried to be funny simply by giving all the characters some rare and annoying qualities. After a few episodes, it really gets boring watching Audrey's weirdness and Spence's bipolar disorder. But they did this for the entire length of the show's existence, which gradually dropped the show from 7 to 4. I think 7 was when Adam was still on the show, and 4 was towards the end of season 4.
Season 5 was a complete disaster. I have nothing against gay people. And I'm okay with Ellen DeGeneres' decision, even though it was a bit inconsistent since her character was perfectly straight in the first few seasons. But the show just became super boring and annoying when everything had to revolve around Ellen's sexuality. I get it that LGBT equality is important to you, but nobody's watching a comedy to get educated about civil rights. Seriously, Ellen, your show did not get cancelled because you came out. It got cancelled because it was boring and annoying. I hate to be mean but it really became a 1 or a 2 at the end of the show.
In my opinion, the show was a bit boring at the beginning. Just another comedy that tries to be funny. (this time with a book shop as setting)But after Ellen´s outing quite much has changed, the stories have become really intresting, and in general the show has turned to something special and unique now. The difficult (???) topic has been presented in a very sensitive way and besides the´ve tried to fight against all the silly prejudices which are in the heads of too many people.Furthermore I like that we can laugh with Ellen, not about her. (that´s quite unusual for gay characters on TV). I´m impressed of her honesty and strength to share a part of her private life with the public. ELLEN- YOU`RE GREAT!!! Of course,I love the rest of the cast as well (JOELY,CLEA,JEREMY,DAVID)They´re like everyone´s friends. They get on your nerves, tease you, know everything better - but nevertheless you can´t live without them. In the meantime, I must confess that I hardly can´t live without Ellen and fortunately, it´s back on German TV!
Ellen was one of the most retooled series ever made, I think, and every
change made the show worse. It was very funny in its first year, when
it was called These Friends of Mine. Then some perfectly good cast
members were swapped out, the premise changed, it became less ensemble
style and more star driven, and it was weaker. When Arye Gross was
subsequently swapped out for a grating Jeremy Piven, the show started
getting very bad.
When Ellen came out as gay, my mom complained that it ruined the show, but for me, the show was already bad, and her coming out was just more poorly conceived retooling that ultimately made it worse. Although the actual coming out show was brilliant, the best episode of the series, and made me briefly believe that the show had finally turned around. But it hadn't, it just kept declining.
Fortunately Ellen moved on to her talk show host role, which fits her like a glove, so it's a story with a happy ending. But I wish they'd kept doing These Friends of Mine; that was a really good show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are not many successful female stand-up comedians and I never
understood why so many of them are... well not funny. Ellen is a very
funny woman and her show "Ellen" was of course based on her stand-up
act. Maybe she's funny because of her rapid-fire line delivery or the
way she recites her lines with a kind of nervous insecurity. Basically,
she is the whole show here because the supporting characters don't
really add much. In the first season there were two other female
characters named Holly and Anita (played by perennial recurring
character Maggie Wheeler) but they were too normal. They basically just
reacted to Ellen. Adam, played by Arye Gross, was a whiny windbag and
remained so his entire run.
Things improved with the addition of Joely Fisher who is actually quite funny too (I can't believe she didn't have a bigger role in The Mask"). She was more of an equal to Ellen and let's not forget she is totally hot. Then the Adam character was dropped in favor of Ellen's reprehensible cousin, Spence (well played by Jeremy Piven). If you saw him in the movie "Lucas" you could say that this is the character as a grownup. The really annoying addition was Clea Lewis as Audrey, the spoiled socialite. She is such an easy target for ridicule that it's amazing that Ellen puts up with her.
There has been a lot of writing about the "Coming Out" episode, especially among the other commentators. Luckily, I haven't seen those episodes that followed it, so I will not comment on that. I will say that whether she did or did not come out, I always had a suspicion that she was in fact gay from the first time i saw the show and it didn't really change my opinion of her or the show. But sadly, show business is a fickle business and few has enough courage to fight controversy. Still, it's funny that a show like Will and Grace was so successful if gays are ill seen in show business.
(To be continued on The Ellen Show commentary)
During most of its run, "Ellen" was set in a book store owned by the title
character, and it was one of the funniest situation comedies to be
for U.S. television. It had a variety of regular characters, each a well
developed mix of comedy stereotype traits and realistic individual traits.
The varied cast provided lots of opportunities for comedy plot
Ellen's personal gift was humorously portraying the moments of mild embarrassment everyone experiences -- much of comedy is based on embarrassment, after all. But Ellen didn't stop with mild embarrassment. Instead of keeping quiet and hoping no one would notice her blunders, or hoping they'd forget, she tried to talk her way out of them. Of course, she was hopelessly inept at talking herself out of an embarrassing situation, and escalated each mild blush scene into a personal disaster for her, and hilarious comedy for viewers.
The show, to me, most resembled the old Lucille Ball comedies. But I had a hard time identifying with Lucy's setting in the distant past, which exists only in black and white television and the nostalgia-clouded memories of people older than I am. Ellen, by contrast, was set in a familiar approximation of the modern world, which is funnier to me because it's a world I understand.
In its final season, the show changed its focus from comedy to civil rights. It started out almost as funny as before, but the civil rights message quickly crowded out the comedy. I applaud her political message, but by neglecting the comedy Ellen DeGeneres effectively cancelled her own show, and any chance she had of using it as a political soapbox. I and others watched the show because it was funny, and in the final season in the hopes that it would become funny again. I didn't want to watch her pitch a civil rights message I had accepted years earlier.
Perhaps it's difficult to deliver a message, while still entertaining, but it can be done. Most "Home Improvement" episodes contain a family moral of some sort, but never at the expense of the humor. Giving a choice between presenting a moral and making people laugh, "Home Improvement" went for the laugh, although it didn't go for the laughs to the point of presenting (for lack of a better term) an anti-moral. Given the same choice, "Ellen" usually chose the civil rights moral instead, and the comedy lost. It's possible to make a comedy with a gay star and lead character, and deliver Ellen's civil rights position, but comedy has to come first for the show to succeed.
One exception to the badness of the final season was the farewell episode. It set aside the efforts to deliver a civil rights message, and tried to be funny again. It demonstrated that Ellen had not lost her comedic gift, but had instead set it aside in favor of her political interests.
A now-moot question to ABC: Why were there viewer discretion notices before the show? It had less adult content (sexual or other) than almost any other shows then on television. The only shows of that time period I knew of with less adult content were "Simpsons", "King of the Hill", and "Home Improvement". Occasional scenes of women kissing women don't need a viewer discretion warning. Or if they do, almost all of ABC's surviving series need even stronger warnings.
While ABC deserves mockery for its stupid viewer discretion warnings, it deserves no blame for cancelling the show -- it had become a low-rated, unfunny comedy, for which Ellen DeGeneres deserves most of the blame. Still, before the final season, "Ellen" was comedy genius.
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