Monday, November 09, 2015
There are a lot of things about I like.
I like its energy and desire to make you laugh. It has a likable cast, (notably Chris D’Elia) and it’s willing to take chances. That last thing is particularly refreshing given networks’ desperate desire to always be safe.
What bothers me is that the show is clearly a gimmick. Gimmicks get tiresome. And the gimmick, at times, comes at the expense of the product.
UNDATEABLE LIVE breaks rules, which is mostly good but also has downsides.
And the ultimate goal is to have your show go into syndication. That’s where you can make hundreds of millions in success. UNDATEABLE LIVE is essentially forfeiting that. BUT, in this case, syndication’s not the real goal. NBC just wants to attract viewers NOW. And if that’s the case, and if actors making inside jokes or going up on lines brings in eyeballs, then what the hell? You’re doing a live show; you might as well go for it.
And now I’m going to waffle again. I worry that the gimmick isn’t big enough. It’s not such a novelty to see a live comedy. We’re been watching SNL for a gazillion years now. Actors breaking up and technical glitches – been there, seen that. And SNL has the added X-factor of a different guest host each week. The cast may be used to performing live every week but the Hollywood movie star or politician/joke isn’t.
Even after a few weeks I can see the cast of UNDATEABLE LIVE getting into a comfortable groove. Those glitches may disappear, or worse, become calculated and forced.
And my other beef is that this is just another example of the lack of faith in multi-camera comedies. There now have to be gimmicks. Characters have to be self-aware and almost apologetic. On some shows (2 BROKE GIRLS) the comedy has to be strictly low road.
And still, I say there’s a place for those kinds of shows as long as networks are also developing well-written intelligent comedies where characters are important and story is important, and maybe there’s even a theme and some humanity. Can’t both of these multi-camera forms co-exist?
I’d actually like to attend a taping (or is it an “airing?”) of an UNDATEABLE LIVE episode. It would be fun to compare the experience of actually being there to the experience of watching it on television. If nothing else, it might help me to finally get off the fence.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM