|Index||4 reviews in total|
I was extremely excited about this show, since its creator is the
Mike White, who wrote Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl and School of Rock,
among other things. I was surprised that he was going back to television
after speaking out a few years back about how frustrating it was to try to
bring 'quirky' characters and stories to network shows; apparently after
School of Rock was such a monster hit, the people at Fox had the foresight
to court him, and what a superb show he's given them, and
The first episode last night (3/9/04) was genius from start to finish: great set-up, perfect introduction of all the major characters, hilarious interaction between them. AND the best part, boys and girls - - - NO laugh track! (This is the thing that makes me not want to watch any sitcom; the dreaded laugh track is just so hideous - rolling my eyes just thinking about it.)
The characters on this show could (and probably WOULD) be stereotypes in a lesser writer's hands, but Mike is too sharp for that, too subversively bent (his best quality). The cast is perfect as well, especially Molly Shannon, and if Cracking Up gets the audience it deserves, there is hope for the world after all.
Long ago in the mid-80s, Scott Baio had a little family-oriented
sit-com called "Charles in Charge." Premise: male college student
becomes live-in nanny to a family with 3 kids (2 boys and a girl).
Every problem was easily solved at the end of the half hour, and a
lesson was learned. Very clean cut. Cancelled after 2 seasons.
But it didn't die! A couple of years later, "Charles in Charge" was resurrected in syndication. Scott Baio and the house were the same, as was good, albeit dumb, friend Buddy. Yet, the family changed. It morphed into a family with 2 girls and a boy. This always made me wonder if the original family sold the house, but put a rider in the contract declaring that the new family had to keep Charles as their nanny. Eventually, the 2nd version of "Charles of Charge" was cancelled, too.
But it still didn't die! More than 15 years later, Jason Shwartzman revived the premise. He's a college student and live-in nanny to a family with 3 kids. They even kept the same theme song! But instead of the happy-bubble gum, "Charles in charge of our days and our nights. Charles in charge of our wrongs and our rights. I want Charles in charge of me," it was instrumental -- and very punk. And the family went from happy-bubble gum to very skewed. I mean, Jack Black as a drug counselor? Totally surreal. "Charles in Charge" on acid.
Sadly, most people didn't get it. I think if people had realized what the show was trying to do, they would have appreciated it a bit more. It's a spoof, people! But no one got it, and it was cancelled after about 3 episodes. Oh well. Perhaps one day, we'll be able to see the rest of the episodes that never aired.
Unfortunately, I only saw about 4 episodes before the show was moved
around, canceled or lost. But this show had a lot of things that made
"Arrested Development" so popular - though perhaps a degree of anarchy
that killed it. Mike White ("School of Rock", "Orange County", "The
Good Girl") writes/directs with the usual blend of wit, irony and
character-based storytelling. Jason Schwartzman does his best "I Heart
Huckabees"-meets-"Charles In Charge" as Ben, a grad student studying
the Shackleton family. The Shackletons - with "Mom" played by a
neurotic Molly Shannon - are a mess. Ben attempts to bring in sanity
and heart. Whether he had any chance, remains to be seen. This show
didn't get off the ground, but it deserved a chance. It had enough
talent to grow a heart - it just needed another half-season.
Plus, if you haven't seen the episode with Jack Black as a drug counselor, you're missing a great piece of work. Hilarious.
Please bring this to DVD - at least the treatment given to other short-lived series like the nice package of "God, The Devil and Bob" or (the dream), something like "Freaks and Geeks" or "Firefly".
I watched every episode (were there 6?) of this before it was canceled.
Jason Schwartzman is def. one of my favorite actors, I love most things
White does (i.e. The Good Girl) and Molly Shannon? Well let's just say I'm
one of the biggest SNL buffs ever
But the show? Eh, I liked it, but it didn't really make me laugh... The performances were great (bonus points for featuring Zooey Deschanel in an episode) but I just... ack. Didn't like it. The pilot episode had reeeally bad exposition, that kinda stood out... it tried to be funny lots of times that it really wasn't... Points also deducted for putting Jack Black in.
Don't think I'd recommend it to anyone who, uh, isn't me.
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