Back in July, when every broadcast network other than CBS was being stingier than Ebeneezer Scrooge about sending out screeners of pilots (or, in NBC’s case, first episodes, since they don’t do pilots anymore), I was pleasantly surprised when Fox stepped forward and provided us with the pilot for their new sitcom, “Do Not Disturb,” which focuses on the staff of a high-class hotel.
But then I watched it.
After enduring the viewing experience, I was still surprised that they’d provided us with the pilot…but, now, instead of being surprised that they had finished product with which to provide us, I was simply surprised that they felt like the show was worth showing to us, let alone put on the air. I don’t know if you remember my posting after sitting through the TCA panel for the show, but if you don’t, then this one sentence should provide you with sufficient insight as to my feelings on the pilot:
I was perhaps one of the few fans of Jerry O’Connell’s previous series, “Carpoolers,” and hearing that Jason Bateman directed the pilot episode of this hotel-based sitcom, I walked in ready to love it, but sweet Jiminy Christmas, this thing sucked so much that it might as well have been sponsored by Oreck.
Yes, it was just that good…and at least one other person agreed with me: my esteemed evil twin, Bill Harris of the Toronto Sun, who described it as the least funny sitcom pilot to cross his path in a couple of years. I think it’s safe to say that this dissatisfaction was shared by others beyond just writers named William Harris, however, since Fox soon made the decision to air an episode other than the pilot when the series premieres on September 10th. As a result of this move, the network proceeded to send us an advance screener of this episode as well…and after more than a week of having it sitting in my house and taunting me, I’m finally going to steel myself and watch it. But know this: I’m doing it for you, dear readers. People say that critics sit on high and look down at everyone else, deciding what’s good and what’s not, and maybe that’s true sometimes, but let’s not forget the sacrifices they make for the people who read their work…and while we’re at it, let’s not forget to ask God to have mercy on my soul for at least the next 22 minutes or so.
(22 minutes later…)
Well, to intentionally damn the episode with faint praise, it was in no way as painfully unfunny as the original pilot, but it definitely serves to secure my belief that “Do Not Disturb” will in no way be appointment television for me.
The premiere is entitled “Work Sex,” and it revolves around an anonymously-written article in Time Out about the sexual exploits of a supervisor of the hotel. Rumors run rampant about the author of the piece, with the primary suspect being Neil (Jerry O ‘Connell), and since he’s a well-documented and unapologetic hound, he figures it’s about him, too. Rhonda (Niecy Nash) quickly organizes a meeting to remind everyone about the inappropriateness of sex in the workplace, but in tried in true sitcom fashion, Neil battles to avoid temptation just as Rhonda gives in to it, and cue the wacky shenanigans! There are also B-stories where Gus (Dave Franco) takes Larry (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) to a bar and tries to help him hook up with someone…anyone, really…to help him get back at Vincent, and where Molly (Jolene Purdy) helps Nicole (Molly Stanton) get back into modeling.
It’s all very pedestrian, really, and although the characters don’t come across quite as much like the complete cookie-cutter cliches that they were in the pilot – sassy black woman, flamboyant gay man, promiscuous but stupid blonde, fat girl who somehow manages to rise above the width of her waistline and still contribute something to society – the jokes aren’t a great deal funnier, despite what the hoots and hollers of the laugh track would have you believe. Perhaps most disappointing, however, is the total absence of Robert Wagner, whose role in the pilot was virtually the only thing redeeming about it.
In other words, “Do Not Disturb” is still not very good.
This is in no way a surprise, of course, since the odds of the show overcoming a pilot episode that bad were always pretty slim, but given the cast involved, it still manages to be disappointing. O’Connell’s got charisma, we know from “Reno 911” that Nash can be hysterical with the right material, and, dammit, I still believe that Jesse Tyler Ferguson has got a good sitcom in him somewhere.
“Do Not Disturb,” however, is definitely not that sitcom.
A closing note: I checked in with my aforementioned evil twin to see if he’d had a chance to check out the new “Do Not Disturb” premiere…and, boy, had he.
“My two-sentence review ‘Do Not Disturb’ as appeared in Sun Media newspapers and websites last weekend: ‘Do you know what’s REALLY disturbing? How aggressively unfunny this sitcom is.’ Molly Stanton is easy on the eyes, but please. And one more thing: Why does Jerry O’Connell’s hairstyle look like a 1964 Beatle who forgot to wash his hair?”
I have no answer to that question…but, damn, Bill’s right. What is up with Jerry’s hair? And, more importantly, how bad does a show have to be for the lead actor’s hairstyle to be the most interesting thing about it…?