>"The Winner" – My Dissection of a Sitcom Pilot
>”The Winner” – Premiering on Fox this Fall, see IMDB for more. Fox has done little to no promotion for this show and I have not seen anything good or bad in the trades or online. See my Oscar Wilde quote as to why this is not a good sign.
The Good: The leads. Rob Corddry as “Glen” and Erinn Hayes as “Alison”. Never mind that she’s clearly younger than him as is typical in casting ($&#!@), she is a great straight man to Corddry’s loveable “loser”. The very few funny lines she was given, she delivered with great timing and obvious pleasure.
Corddry is perfectly cast. The still lives with his parents and doesn’t have a job schtick is aided by his premature balding and sharp comedic delivery.
The writing, to a degree. I don’t watch many sitcoms because I’m comedied out in my real life and find it hard to enjoy comedy on television rather than in living color. I actually laughed out loud more than once much to my surprise. This has much to do with the aforementioned strong performances but the real credit must be given to the writers.
The Bad: The name & it’s lack of a Winner. According to IMDB, the plot outline is this: “A successful guy looks back to the time he spent living with his parents when he was in his thirties.” Well, we never meet “The Winner” (the older, successful Glen) except in a very brief voice over in the beginning and once again in the end when he actually repeats a line from the beginning. By the end I had actually forgotten the original narrated intro, so I’m guessing that many test audiences had as well and they decided to repeat the line for added emphasis. And hasn’t the whole narrated from a future version of the lead thing been done already? Isn’t it being done right now?
The writing, to a degree, but really it’s the whole premise that is stale. It was very formulaic which is why sitcoms tend to die on the vine so quickly. Loser guy lives with parents, hot girl he likes moves in next door spends the next few years trying to get her and, if the sitcom is still on the air, then he does get the girl and the show jumps the shark. I suppose at some point Glen will have to turn a corner to become the success he supposedly becomes but will anyone be watching by then?
The supporting cast. I adore Julie Hagerty but she and Lenny Clarke were a little much. It’s a pilot, so there are basic premises that need to be set up, but she could bring it down about a half a notch and he will settle in to the role now that the set up is done. Keir Gilchrist was okay as Alison’s son. Just okay, but he’s a kid so who cares. The problem won’t really be with their acting but rather the lack of any real business or their invented business for what will surely be ridiculous plots.
And in the category of minor annoyance: Why do Glen’s parents have such, thick luscious locks while he is nearly bald at 30? Was he adopted?
The Verdict: I don’t see it lasting long. If given a great time slot after a tried and true show with strong ratings, it might skate by. With only two leads and three real supporting cast members, the writing and chemistry between and the audience’s affection for the leads is going to have to be extraordinarily strong and/or the writers will need to introduce strong supporting roles STAT. While Corddry has a great following with the Daily Show, I’m not sure that Daily Show viewers will watch such a silly sitcom on Fox. (They won’t.)
UPDATE 9/6: I just read the Fall TV Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly and “The Winner” was conspicuously absent. I went through it twice searching for it so I went digging elsewhere and found this EW article referring to “The Winner” as “Fox’s midseason sitcom.” That explains the absence of promotion.
“The Class” review to come.