"The Nerd" proves NBC Saturday is "Please Watch TV"
"The Nerd" is a lame comedy based on a play by Larry Shue about the lives of William and Tanzi Boyd and how a simple act of kindness can ruin their lives. The premise of the show is that William Boyd was in a burning apartment building when a stranger named Rick Steadman saved him. William never met his rescuer, but promised him anything he wants in a letter Boyd sent to him. Out of the blue, William receives a telephone call from Steadman who promptly shows up to ruin his dinner party with a potential client and his wife.
The program begins with an interesting concept, but after the first commercial break it becomes clear that the plot is nearly non-existent with one cliché after another. Mr. Walgrave, William's potential client, is a politically incorrect sexist chauvinist. Tanzi Boyd on the other hand, is obsessed with the Woman's liberation movement. They constantly argue with each other until Steadman shows up. Rick Steadman, portrayed by John Dye, looks amazingly like Bill Gates. There are innumerable plot twists the writers could have used to add a third dimension to the characters and to build the plot. An interesting concept they could have used was guests always admire the nerd, but the Boyds can't stand him, or vice versa. But instead the remaining 20 minutes of the programs features the five of them bickering to the point of nausea.
The camera work is awful. It looks like it was filmed by a sixth grade audio-visual club. There are numerous jump cuts. The crew either hasn't blocked the script or the camera operators just aren't ready. They constantly missed their mark on simple close ups and long shots. Though, after closer inspection, I believe the actors missed their marks on where to stand and the camera operators were not able to adapt quickly enough.
The opening credits scene seems to have been tacked on at the last moment. For sixty seconds the three main characters dance around the set for no apparent reason. Even after watching the entire program, this opening makes no sense.
There are many shows that use this same technique such as "Blossom" and "The Cosby Show." In those instances, within the context of the show, they make sense. Three of the Russos were musicians on the show, that is probably why the opening credits have them playing the piano and dancing.
"The Nerd" does have some redeeming qualities. The music by Stewart Levin adds emotion to otherwise pointless scenes. Even though the script is poorly written with stupid sex jokes, John Dye adds depth to a flatly written character. It will be interesting to see him other roles in upcoming projects.
It is necessary to point out these observations were based solely on the pilot episode which aired on March 2nd. Since then, it has been preempted for several sporting events and another program "Malibu Shores," has taken its original time slot. Will "The Nerd" return on another date and time? Or was this a leftover pilot that didn't make it into the lineup but due to contract negotiations needed to air? At this writing, NBC Entertainment hasn't answered my correspondence.
Won't the networks learn? This fall on CBS another similar show called "Dweebs" was canceled after four weeks. NBC Saturday night sitcoms have always played down to the lowest common denominator in terms of plot and characterization. They seem to have a hat full of stereotypical characters they assemble into a program. What do you get when you mix a feminist wife, a sexist client with a kleptomaniac wife, a computer geek and a business man? A four week run program airing on the lowest rated night of the week. "The Nerd" airs Saturday nights at 7:30 PM on NBC.
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