July 5, 2010

Radio Review | This Is That 1.1

This Is That (CBC Radio One: premiered Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 7:30 PM ET/PT; also Saturdays at 10:30 AM ET/PT) is CBC Radio’s attempt to build comedy from made-up news stories.  It’s already the most honest news show on CBC Radio One right now, in that TIT admits that it makes shit up.  You won’t find that candidness on Q or The Current.

Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring are This Is That‘s creators.  Their previous attempt at media humour, Good Morning World, aired in 2007 on The Comedy Network.  GMW was a web series given a berth on TCN in one of the channel’s “is this CanCon enough?” periods.  Like most shows on TCN, it hasn’t fared well.

This Is That has its share of problems.  Kelly and Oldring too often fumble for words, which isn’t surprising for an improv show.  I don’t find This Is That that funny after one episode, though the podcasts prior to TIT‘s debut are worse.  I wonder if TIT will be able to sustain itself for two months without growing stale, since TIT is the very definition of “skeleton crew.”

At the same time, TIT is a fairly accurate parody of the typical CBC human-interest news show.  It has the vacuous host chatter, documentary segment and interview banter down cold.  Oldring in particular could host a serious CBC Radio show, and not sound out of place.

Sadly, I grade shows like This Is That on a curve.  CBC Radio has let loose some real dogs over the years.  I remember the skein of attempts to rip off Double ExposureThe Muckraker, What a Week, National Pastime.  Al Rae/Content Factory’s comedy bits on The House are consistently piss-poor.

At the same time, CBC Radio has mounted The Great Eastern and given a radio sitcom to John Wing, Jr.  The Debaters isn’t too bad, pitting standup comics against each other.  Even Laugh Out Loud has given birth to Cynically Tested’s Truth From Here, which really needs to be a series.

TIT lies somewhere in the middle of CBC Radio’s comedy output.  It’s better than it should be, given Kelly and Oldring’s previous contribution to the Canadian cultural chum mill.  It’s managed to fool the National Post, which already makes TIT more notable than Good Morning World.

I hope This Is That improves in the coming weeks.  Even if the show isn’t that funny, it should at least confuse listeners.  That was a quality The Great Eastern had, enough that I hated the show years before I finally “got it.”  This Is That won’t be CBC Radio’s equivalent of The Onion or Weekly World News, but it should be.  This Is That doesn’t obsess over fake tan jokes, so that’s half the battle won right there.


October 4, 2009

TV Review | Glenn Martin, DDS 1.1

Glenn Martin, DDS (CityTV: premiered October 3, 8:00 PM ET) wastes Kevin Nealon as the title character, a dentist going through a midlife crisis.  His eleven-year-old daughter Courtney (Jackie Clarke) is the definition of corporate.  Teenage Conor (Peter Oldring) is the definition of sexually pent-up.  Dog Canine has a definitive asshole.  Whatever Glenn Martin, DDS is, it’s…definite.

Glenn reads that Singer Park, site of his most cherished childhood memories, is about to be torn down.  After a stock floating-heads nightmare sequence, Glenn cracks and buys an RV.  He rounds up the family and Courtney’s assistant Wendy (Judy Greer), determined to save Singer Park from progress.  Along the way, Glenn destroys his house.  Hilarity fails to ensue.

Glenn Martin, DDS tries to marry its 1970s-era premise with mild 2000s-era shock humour, and the results aren’t pretty.  Glenn Martin, DDS goes for obvious gags – Canine’s bunghole, Segway-riding redneck hippies, the ending where it turns out the Singer Park article is from 2003.  Despite this, the show can’t even out-edge SpongeBob SquarePants, which will be remembered long after Glenn Martin, DDS is cancelled.

Glenn Martin, DDS looks cheap and badly animated.  Juddery animation is a Cuppa Coffee stop-motion trademark, but Glenn Martin, DDS looks amateurish compared to Life’s a Zoo.tv and Rick & Steve.  Seriously, the cartoon looks as bad as the recent Royal Bank of Canada commercials that emulate stop-motion.  I’m amazed Cuppa Coffee brought its B game to such a high-profile cartoon.

Glenn Martin, DDS is a failure for more than just Cuppa Coffee.   Michael Eisner deserves some blame for this show, as Glenn Martin, DDS grew out of Eisner’s friend owning a dog with a distended starfish.  Seriously.

Therein lies the problem with Glenn Martin, DDS.  The creator of The Head and Celebrity Deathmatch is being asked to come up with original programming for the rerun-heavy Nick@Nite.  Eric Fogel isn’t a good fit, even on a network with an Amy Poehler-helmed cartoon.  Eisner’s Tornante Animation has hitched itself to Glenn Martin, DDS‘ fortunes, so the show’s more high-profile than it would be otherwise.

Glenn Martin, DDS is a misfire on every level.  It’s not offensive so much as poorly written and overhyped.  The show should be on another MTV Networks channel, probably Comedy Central.  At least CityTV burns the show off on Saturday nights, although Rogers disguises the fact that Glenn Martin, DDS comes from Nick@Nite.  I’ll wait for more Less Than Kind.