CAVEMEN NEEDS TO EVOLVE, APPARENTLY: I don`t know why I`m pushing so hard for Cavemen, the ABC sitcom based on the Geico commercials, to work. Maybe I just like the idea of a commercial turning into a TV series, brazenly crossing a decades-old barrier just when the definition of what TV advertising should be is being challenged and dissolved in the acid bath of the internet. Maybe it`s not that complex, though – sometimes I think I like the idea for the same reason that I like roast chicken-flavoured potato chips; it seems unnatural and kinda cool at the same time.
First of all, there was the announcement that the show`s pilot was going to be re-shot this August in order to be ready for the October 2 premiere, and that the old pilot would be aired as a regular episode later in the season – that is, if Cavemen lasts until American Thanksgiving. It certainly hasn’t been given an easy ride at this summer`s TV critics’ press tour, where stories like Eric Deggans’ have been typical. Deggans, columnist for the St. Petersburg Times, hit the show’s cast and creators with a single, awkward question at the panel devoted to the show: “Is this the series about black folks that ABC was too scared to make?"
Deggans, who’s black, hit the line of white guys on the dais with this question, to which he got the sort of answers that would be priceless if they were written by Ricky Gervais for a character on The Office or Extras. According to Rob McKenzie of the National Post, one of the executive producers, Bill Martin, felt moved to recite a catalogue of minority participants in the show; “an African-American man, and an Indian-American guy, and an African-American trainee, and a woman, too.” Josh Gordon, another exec producer, added later that “a Latina female director” was also involved.
At least they didn’t feel moved to list the production assistants, drivers, caterers and various and sundry couriers who arrived on the set with packages, or question each other in hushed voices whether that intern in the Belle And Sebastian t-shirt they fired after one day was Italian or Middle Eastern.
For his part, Deggans was left wondering if anyone really knew why they were making Cavemen.” Executive producer Mike Schiff, a veteran of series such as In Living Color and 3rd Rock From The Sun, could barely stammer out an answer when asked what the series would actually focus on,” wrote Deggans. “Another producer, former adman and Geico caveman creator Joe Lawson, said he was surprised critics would question a series developed from a commercial: ‘I didn’t know we would catch so much hell,’ he cracked. ‘It was a nice surprise.’”
SHUT UP AND DANCE: Was I the only one who was turned off by the solo dance to the anti-war theme cooked up by choreographer Wade Robson? Never mind the dubious notion of making us watch the same routine over and over; it took the old Elvis Costello line about writing about music – it’s like “dancing about architecture” – to a new level of absurdity; now that we’ve been subjected to dancing about politics, can we have a dance about economics, or theoretical mathematics? A shark-jumping moment, for me at least, on one of my favorite shows, and with that, I’m off on vacation for two weeks.