Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.
Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
THE ADAM CAROLLA PROJECT (NBC)
(written by Adam Carolla, Jon Pollack & Kevin Hench; directed by Michael Spiller; TRT: 21:49)
The network's description: "Among the comedies is the Adam Carolla comedy project that features the humorous radio and TV personality Carolla ("The Man Show," "The Hammer") as a contractor who sets out to re-build his life following a divorce. The pilot is produced by Universal Media Studios and BermanBraun. The executive producers are Carolla, Kevin Hench (The Hammer"), Jon Pollack (NBC's "30 Rock"), Jimmy Kimmel ("The Jimmy Kimmel Show"), Gail Berman (NBC's "Mercy"), Lloyd Braun (NBC's "Mercy"), Daniel Kellison ("The Jimmy Kimmel Show," "The Man Show") and James Dixon ("Ace in the Hole")."
What did they leave out? It's the second pilot in as many years toplined by Carolla. The first, "Ace in the Hole," was for CBS in which he played a husband and father who works as a driving instructor.
The plot in a nutshell: "You know that dream where you're divorced and you're crashing with your buddy Oswaldo and you're sleeping in his daughter's bedroom while she's away at college," Adam (Adam Carolla) ponders. "Wait a minute, that sounds way too specific to be a dream." Such is Adam's life: divorced and staying with his widowed best friend (Oswaldo Castillo), they both barely scrape by as contractors. Making it all worth it though is his daughter Lucy (Shanley Caswell). She's about to turn 16 and Adam's counting on a check from his latest project - a remodel of upscale housewife Suzie's (Megan Hilty) kitchen - to pay for a present. Standing in his way then is the inspector (whom Adam dubs "the sheriff from Tyler Perry's Porky's"), who demands a breather be installed in her countertop.
To make matters worse, Suzie refuses to pay until he gets said $289 item, which he in turn can't afford without the aforementioned check. And so he retreats to his second job at the local Home Depot knock-off, where he gives demonstrations on various home improvement projects. There he gets the idea to use a cheap soap dispenser as a faux breather so he can pass the inspection. This of course doesn't go as planned and things continue to spiral out of control from there. Also along for the ride is Adam and Ozzie's landlord, Judith (Ashley Williams), a fellow divorcee who got the building in the settlement. She, unlike Adam, however is using her newfound status to explore her spirituality and what to do with the next stage of her life. This of course sits as well as can be expected with the perpetually grouchy Adam, who's more than willing to share his sardonic perspective on all of the above.
What works: Not surprisingly the show is strongest when it sticks to Carolla's shtick - on accordion music making people dumber: "You show me a country that loves ranchero music and I'll show you a country with no space program."; on girls and their spirituality: "You never hear guys talking about this crap. Last time I was getting in touch with my spiritual roots, Ozzie walked in on me."; on Suzie's Pomeranian: "There should be a rule if your dog would lose a steel cage match with a squirrel, it can no longer be called a dog. What's it going to do when an intruder breaks in? Crawl up the guy's urethra and yawn?"; on the barbed wire that sits on top of LA's overpasses to keep vandals away: "Hey, Mr. Mayor. You know what's more depressing than graffiti: razor wire." - all of which are delivered via confessionals to the audience in what looks like a green screened garage.
What doesn't: For the most part though it's a very creaky show. The madcappery around the breather feels very forced as the show seems to lay hastily considered track in front of the Carolla train to get to the next confessional. Some of it works as his relationship with daughter Lucy has its moments (on why she doesn't stay with him: "Ozzie's apartment is like a pinata filled with men's underwear.") but the majority is limp noodle retreads like the uppity Suzie not liking blue class folk like Adam, let alone a Nicaraguan immigrant like Ozzie. Plus Carolla, while a funny guy, isn't the most naturalistic actor. He often looks like he's begrudgingly playing "Adam the character," as his sighs and eye rolls feel very scripted, like he's doing a staged re-enactment of how the scene actually should happen. All in all if you were already a fan of Carolla's you'll probably find something to like here. If not, you'll just see the square peg of Carolla's act...
The bottom line: ...trying to hammer through the round hole of a hackneyed television show.