[06/04/08 - 01:55 AM]
The Futon's First Look: "Worst Week" (CBS)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

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 2008-2009 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot - or in this new post-strike/straight-to-series world, reading the pilot script. We'll start with the ones that were actually filmed and move on to the others in the coming weeks.

With that in mind, it's even more important to remember 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. Plus: as an added bonus, we've got a backlog of passed over pilots - some from this season, some from last season - we'll be tackling as well. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!

(written by Matt Tarses; directed by Adam Bernstein; TRT: 22:21)

The network's description: "WORST WEEK is a comedy about Sam Briggs, an entertainment magazine editor who will do anything to please his girlfriend's parents ... but instead becomes a one-man wrecking crew whenever he's around them. Sam (Kyle Bornheimer, "Jericho") and his girlfriend, Melanie Clayton (Erinn Hayes, "Kitchen Confidential"), have only one hurdle left to clear as they start their life together: breaking the news to Mel's conservative parents that they have a wedding in the works and a baby on the way. Dick (Kurtwood Smith, "That '70s Show"), a stern Judge, and his wife Angela (Nancy Lenehan, "My Name is Earl"), are protective of their daughter, and are really trying to let go of the anger they feel toward Sam ... after all, disaster follows whenever he visits their house. But despite his best efforts, every time Sam takes one positive step forward in winning over his future in-laws, he inevitably takes two crushing steps back. But with support and love from Melanie who stands up for him despite his knack for making himself look bad, Sam will hopefully charm his way into her family. Emmy Award winner Adam Bernstein ("30 Rock") directed the pilot. Matt Tarses ("Scrubs") and Jimmy Mulville ("Whose Line Is It Anyway?") are the executive producers for Universal Media Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television."

What did they leave out: "Worst Week" is loosely based on "Worst Week Of My Life," a U.K. series that ran for three seasons from 2004-2006. CBS is also not the first to try and import the show - FOX tried back in 2006 with Jaime King and a pre-"Chuck" Zachary Levi as the leads while JoBeth Williams and David Ogden Stiers played her parents. Also Jay Malone had been cast as the best friend of Kyle Bornheimer's character however his scenes were either not filmed or cut from the screened version. And finally (whew!), there was lots of scuttlebutt during the upfronts that CBS agreed to give the show the post-"Two and a Half Men" time period in exchange for making it a co-production with CBS Paramount Television.

The plot in a nutshell: Sam Briggs (Kyle Bornheimer) has every reason to be nervous - his fiancee Mel (Erinn Hayes) is pregnant and her aristocratic parents - Angela (Nancy Lenehan) and Dick (Kurtwood Smith), both playing to type - have no idea that they're either expecting... or even engaged to be married. Making matters worse is that bad things happen when Sam gets nervous, like when he accidentally burned down part of her parents' house. So it's not much of a surprise to learn that their plan to tell her folks after a quiet dinner goes completely off the rails. It starts with Sam missing the train after deciding to help a drunken girl (Tamara Mello) home, having her throw up on him, the cab driver kicking them out, having to carry her passed out body to her apartment, deciding to shower at said girl's apartment to clean up the mess (no, I'm not joking), getting kicked out - sans clothes - of her apartment after she wakes to the sight of a naked Sam looking for a towel, and having to take an $80 cab ride to Mel's parents' house while wearing a giant plastic diaper. And that's just the start of things. There's urinating into food, a concussion caused by slipping on said urine, Sam mistakenly thinking Dick has died, oil painting hijinks and a host of other tomfoolery. But despite all of his many, many, many mistakes, Mel can't help but still love Sam.

What works: Ummm...

What doesn't: ...where to even begin? "Worst Week" is literally just an endless daisy chain of Sam bulling his way through china shop after china shop. And after china shop, let's say #27, when Sam tries to tell Mel's brother over a bad cell connection that Dick has died and ends up having to scream "HE'S DEAD!" multiple times - much to everyone's horror, the gas has officially run out on the gag. It wouldn't be so bad if Sam resembled an actual human being, but instead we watch as he continuously does things any rational person wouldn't do, like say, showering in a stranger's apartment or accidentally peeing into a dish where a goose is marinating because the power went out and he can't see. With that in mind, want to take a wild guess as to what happens when Sam tries to fix the fuse box while carrying a candle near the oil painting of Dick that Angela commissioned for his birthday? I'm all for the occasional cheap gag, but 22 minutes straight of them?

The bottom line: No thanks.

  [june 2008]  


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