Tuesday, October 19, 2010
What's wrong with those new sitcom pilots?
Okay, so I think have seen the new comedy pilots. Those are "Running Wilde", "Raising Hope", Better With You" (picture), "Shit My Dad Says", "Outsourced" and "Mike & Molly".
Unfortunately, when it comes to the quality of these new pilots, all were pretty bad. Not one was even decent.
Makes you wonder how bad the other two dozen pilots were that didn't make the cut.
Okay, I'll give you that Billy Gardell's and Melissa McCarthy's acting was pretty solid in Mike & Molly. Too bad the other parts on the show aren't working.
So why are these new pilot shows so bad?
Well, if you watched any of these shows, did you find a single one of them actually going somewhere?
Probably not and that's mostly because these shows didn't have good premises.
If you don't have a good, interesting setup, your show has nowhere to go.
The problem with these new six shows is that none of them have any potential to say anything even remotely meaningful about the way we live our lives.
None of the characters are interesting. Just because the synopsis of the show describes the characters as "funny, charming, ambitious etc" doesn't mean that you're in for a treat. You need more than that.
Besides, characters itself don't get your show anywhere. What defines your show is how the characters interact with each other.
That is what helps to create conflict, tension, wants, needs, success, failure, humor, drama and meaning in general. The essential stuff.
That's why a show like Frasier was so successful. The characters were relatively well developed, but what made the show was the quality of the relationships - the brothers being competitive snobs and the rest of the cast being the voice of reason.
The same way Everybody Loves Raymond was successful because it perfected the family dynamics. Every character had strengths and weaknesses compared to the others. That's why they were able to milk it for so many years.
And then there was Friends. You know why it was so successful? Because of the relationships. Somehow all the characters managed to find a way to be genuinely friends with each other. That's a lot harder to do than it sounds. No wonder its success is yet to be repeated.
In the end all these shows were successful because they figured out the premise. They figured out the characters. And then they figured out the character relationships.
Those are the building blocks of good sitcoms. Those are all that we need but unfortunately not what we got this season.