Arrested Development the animated series sans the Voice Over and Wit
It's no surprise that FOX broadcasting has somewhat lowered the bar for the standards of television. Face it; this channel has somewhat thrived upon "trash TV" and has built a reputation on it. However, when it comes to Primetime animation, FOX currently holds several juggernauts including Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, Mike Judge's King of the Hill and of course, the classic, The Simpsons. So when a new animated series called Sit Down, Shut Up premieres between two of these audience bringers, expectations are somewhat higher.
Sit Down, Shut Up follows a staff of teachers at a dysfunctional school in an attempt to hold things together during hard economic times. Such teachers include Ennis Hofftard who is an essential meat head teaching English, Larry LittleJunk as the lovable P.E. coach who just can't quite woo the girl of his dreams without insulting her, and Stuart Proszakian, a somewhat drugged out Assistant Principal (or in this case the Ass. Principal) who is constantly happy and constantly unaware of the present situation. This week's episode: the school must find a way to raise money or they must fire one of their staff members.
Since the series was created of Mitch Hurwitz (who also created Arrested Development), a series of subplots concerning the misfit teachers take place. Can the German teacher effectively hide his pornography? Will the plan to subject students to steroids work? Can the Librarian find the missing bottle of '93 champagne work hundreds? Also adhering to Arrested Development's structure, all the subplots wind down to a chaotic, no holds bar conclusion. Unfortunately, that's all Sit Down, Shut Up takes from Arrested Development.
One of the major problems is the format. So much plotting and details are shot at rapid pace, that multiple viewings are required. (Though whether it's worth the effort is questionable). However, without an omniscient voice over (such as the one provided by Ron Howard in Arrested Development) to keep the program coherent and accessible, the show becomes very confusing very quickly. This leads to an altogether other problem: whether the show is actually aware that it's an animated series, or whether it's not.
Several hints were thrown revealing that some characters know more than they're supposed to. For example, Larry Littlejunk makes an obscure reference and when no flashback comes up (somewhat insulting the format of Family Guy), Larry asks "Mitch" if they're going to show it. Likewise, Assistant Principal Proszakian has the catchphrase, "I need a catchphrase" to add to the lampooning. However, if the characters are somewhat omniscient, why do they also seem unaware at times, such as when Larry Littlejunk tries to woo Miracle Grohe when he knows he will fail. The reason the Voice Over was so important was because while the narrator could be omniscient, the characters were free to wallow around in their dysfunction, unaware anyone was watching them. However, without one, confusion follows.
One of the saving graces of the series is the voice cast. While I could go on about Kennen Thompson's role as the acting principal and Will Forte's exquisite role as Stuart Proszakian, real credit goes to Will Arnet. Arnet's role is so perfectly defined as the meat head jock, that he essentially steals the show. There's a scene where he's essentially showing a threesome in a porno to a group of students while confusing it with a cheese magazine. He quickly debunks it with "That's not cheese, that's a three way." A few moment's do work besides Arnet's performance. For example there is a great winking bit where everyone winks to each other and the Assistant principal winks in an attempt to fit in. Of course, he never realizes the joke's on him since they are plotting about him, so he continues to wink.
The animation is somewhat lackluster. While it is interesting to see real life backgrounds spliced together with animation, the end result is more a study of effective animation rather than entertainment.
The real problem is that Sit Down Shut Up doesn't reach as high (or perhaps in FOX's standard) or as low enough to warrant it as a classic. After first impressions, it comes off as sort of bland and forgettable. It's not unwatchable, but there's no reason for a second viewing to buy the DVD's. Perhaps Sit Down Shut Up will step up its game after a mediocre pilot and make a home run for its scheduled run, or be rescheduled to a less popular time block. That being said, the end result shows more missed opportunities than classic examples.
16 of 28 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?