Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pilot Watch: ABC leftovers

Thanks to another cold outbreak at the Sepinwall compound, column-writing has been at a minimum this week. Matt handles the lead item of today's All TV, which is a (negative) review of NBC's "Amazing Race"-meets-"Da Vinci Code" rip-off "Treasure Hunters." I handle the back half of the column, including a short review of A&E's "Touch the Top of the World" (biopic of the first blind man to summit Everest) and Dane Cook's "Tourgasm," which I really only liked during the performance snippets.

In the home stretch on the pilots. Preliminary thoughts -- say it with me, these aren't reviews, since too many things can and will change before September -- on "Men in Trees" and "Let's Rob..." after the jump...

"Men in Trees"
Who's In It:
Anne Heche, John Amos, Abraham Benrubi, James Tupper, and others
What It's About: "Northern Exposure" by way of the collective filmographies of Meg Ryan, Ashley Judd and Sandra Bullock, with Heche as a relationship guru who discovers her fiance is a cheating louse while on a trip to an Alaskan town where the male/female ratio is 10/1.
Pluses: Heche has dialed down the crazy to acceptable degrees, and judging by Marian's favorable reaction, they handle most of the rom-com tropes fairly well. "Northern Exposure" fans will be very pleased by blatant homages like a sexist macho pilot in the Maurice mold and an eager young DJ who's a cross between Ed Chigliak and Chris in the Morning...
Minuses: ... or they'll be annoyed at the blatant rip-offs. Very little male appeal, and I say that as a guy who digs "Grey's Anatomy."

Let's Rob...
Who's In It: Donal Logue, Mick Jagger, Sofia Vergara, Murmur from "The Sopranos"
What It's About: A lifelong loser decides to take hold of his destiny after watching an E! documentary about Mick Jagger's fabulous apartment, and recruits a posse of fellow losers to rob the Rolling Stone.
Pluses: Mick Jagger does a wonderful job of playing Mick Jagger (it's the part he was born to play, baby!), portraying himself as the worst kind of self-absorbed celebrity brat. Writers Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman from "Ed" have fun depicting Logue (who played Phil Stubbs in the second version of the "Ed" pilot) as a man blissfully unaware of his own limitations. Good throwaway jokes like the gang plotting the heist in a "Jewish supply house" filled with giant replica menorahs.
Minuses: Mick, who as of now will only appear occasionally, is far and away the best part of the show, and the scenes with the regular characters suffer in comparison. A little too obviously derivative of "My Name Is Earl," notably Logue having his life-altering revelation while watching a celebrity on TV.


Hype said...

Alan, I gotta that that's probably the most accurate and fair description of Tourgasm in mainstream press, especially someone that doesn't know of Dane Cook's material beforehand.

I have to be honest though, I was slightly underwhelmed because Tourgasm is mainly like a home movie.. I smiled throughout it all, only because I feel like I know these people, but nothing that interesting came out.

And good thing you put in that last line about buying his albums! Because I always neglect to say that whenever I see comments like "I still don't get Dane's appeal..", I try to explain it, but really I should just say 'listen to his material'.

Everyone hears about his popularity, and I guess gets annoyed, and Tourgasm doesn't really showcase his material (which sucks for regular joe sitting watching HBO). Oh yea, it was a 30 Day tour, not 10 days..That would've been tough to do 20 shows huh? hehhe

And..ANOTHER comedy show revolving its season/premise at a wedding?

Alan Sepinwall said...

30-days, you're right, my bad. Is it 30 days, 10 shows, something like that, or did I pull the 10 completely out of thin air? Time to go fill out a correction form...

Anonymous said...

>>Writers Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman from "Ed" have fun depicting Logue (who played Phil Stubbs in the second version of the "Ed" pilot)<<

[obKyle'sMom]: WHAT WHAT WHAT!? Donal Logue could have played Phil? I could have had someone I actually liked in that role, someone who didn't annoy the piss out of me like Michael Ian Black does? DAMMIT!!!

As for Tourgasm, I have to admit that because of an influx of rabid and obnoxious Dane Cook fans onto a newsgroup I frequent, I will never, ever listen to or watch him in anything. He could be the funniest guy on earth, but I'll never know it because his fans have completely turned me off the guy. Oh, well.

Alan Sepinwall said...

There were three pilots for "Ed." The first, called "Stuckeyville," was produced for CBS and was mostly about Ed leaving New York (where his ex-wife was played by Janeane Garofalo), coming back to Stuckeyville and buying the bowling alley to impress Carol. When Burnett and Beckerman went to NBC, they decided to dispense with a premise pilot and crunched the entirety of "Stuckeyville" into a five-minute montage, followed by what "Ed" fans will recognize as the pilot that aired on NBC -- save for the presence of Logue as Phil. Unfortunately, Logue was in two pilots that year, and "Grounded for Life" had first position contractually, so when Fox picked it up, he had to be recast.

I liked Logue's Phil a lot more than Black's, who was far too aware (even proud) of his own lameness to be funny. The weird thing is, I like MIB in pretty much everything else (I was a big fan of "The State" back in the day), but I despised his Phil.

UCF Journalism Student said...


Correction #2: It's Sofia Vergara, not Veraga.

Thanks for keeping editors employed!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Error? What error? I look at that post and see no misspelling of Ms. Vergara's name! None whatsoever! And it's not like I went back in later to make a correction! Never! Never!

UCF Journalism Student said...


Copy editors and writers work together, we help shape your daily masterpieces -- without you we'd just be word/fact/spelling dorks who love to work late hours, marveling at our knowledge of everything. We're grunts you're stars, with blogs!

It's an easy mistake to make -- her nickname's "human Viagara."

Anonymous said...


This is best pilot I've seen in a while. It was made for the WB last year by some guys from Scrubs and Family Guy and someone posted the link on youtube. it's basically a show about how much sitcoms stink. (no wonder it didn't get on the air). it's really funny though and different.

Anonymous said...

>>Unfortunately, Logue was in two pilots that year, and "Grounded for Life" had first position contractually, so when Fox picked it up, he had to be recast. <<

Oh, what could have been! I never liked "Grounded for Life," either. Le sigh. Thanks for the insider scoop once again, Alan!