[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "Work It" (ABC)
The Pitch: "Apparently ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee loves drag comedies and has absolutely NO standards when it comes to what makes him laugh. Let's test the limits of that theory."
Quick Response: Last and certainly least, it's time to end this lengthy Take Me To The Pilots journey with "Work It," which isn't necessarily the worst ordered pilot I've seen in my years on this job, but it's pretty darned close. It's arguably worse than "Outsources" or "Feces My Dad Says." It's as bad or worse than "Brothers." It's worse than "Emily's Reasons Why Not" and far worse than "The Ortegas" and "Thick and Thin," three shows that were weak enough that a combined ONE episode aired for all three. There's an ugly broadness to this drag comedy that suggests it might have seemed cutting edge in 1976, but that decades of human consciousness and sitcom evolution passed it by, probably decades ago. "Work It" stumbles an unpleasant line between misogyny and gynophobia and I think it settles more on the latter, evincing a paranoid distaste for women in general and strong women in particular that permeates the dialogue and all of the portrayals. [The exception that veers into pure hatred for women would be John Caparulo's Brian, possibly the least likable character in television history, no exaggeration, who gets to utter likes like "When the women take over, they'll make pride illegal. That and eating on the toilet" to the squealing approval of the "audience."] Stars Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco commit with almost no evident winking that the premise they're adhering to -- a car salesman and a mechanic are out of work because of the "mancession" so they cross-dress to get work as pharma girls -- is idiotic and unfunny. [I'm not even going to get into how implausibly ridiculous Koldyke and Nolasco look as women, because presumably it's intentional. Unfortunately, their ability to get away with the charade only adds to the show's "Women are dumb poo-poo heads" ethos, which probably isn't intentional.] I guess that's admirable? In some way? It's admirable enough that I felt bad for Koldyke. And worse for Rebecca Mader, who hopefully will escape from her supporting role here. But anyway, it's not enough that "Work It" is an '80s sitcom. TV Land has made a cottage industry out of dated '80s sitcoms in semi-modern contexts. But it's a BAD '80s sitcom. Amidst dialogue about the ace bandage used to conceal his man business, Nolasco's character actually justifies his participation in this farce by observing "I'm Puerto Rican. I'd be great at selling drugs." And witty bon mots like that -- and similarly toned jokes about emasculation, prostate exam rape and how much women enjoy dieting -- proliferate. And it's a CHEAP '80s sitcom. The generic office and bar sets are bad, but there's a night club sequence at the end that takes the Weak-Ass Art Direction cake (should such a cake exist). Anyway, "Work It" is excruciatingly bad, but what's worse is what ABC and specifically Paul Lee are saying through the show, saying both *to* critics -- "We didn’t think this room would like it, and there’s some pleasure in that," Lee told us at press tour last month -- and *about* supposedly "average" TV viewers. There's room on TV for good farce and for smartly delivered blue collar, politically incorrect comedy, but pity ABC if anybody there believes that's what this is.
Desire To Watch Again: Wanna know how you know these entries aren't reviews? I've gone EASY on "Work It." I'd love to watch one or two more episodes so that I can really tear into it for my review. Of course, I have some doubts that we're ever going to actually see "Work It" on TV. That would be a fine alternative. Because here's the thing: I assume that every spring there are a dozen pilots produced that are as bad as "Work It," pilots that seemed like good ideas at one point or another (to somebody), but just didn't come together. It's exactly what the pilot process is there for. I don't think the people involved with "Work It" had a malicious plan to make an embarrassing sitcom. I just think that for a variety of reasons, what they tried failed. But normally, those pilots just don't get picked up and nobody ever has to acknowledge that they existed. I no longer have that luxury, but audiences still could.
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Bent'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Scandal'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Smash'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Good Christian Belles'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'How To Be A Gentleman'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Prime Suspect'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Man Up!'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Free Agents'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Suburgatory'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Ringer'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Terra Nova'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Whitney'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Pan Am'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Alcatraz'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Person of Interest'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's ' 'The River'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Last Man Standing'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Two Broke Girls'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Up All Night'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Revenge'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Awake'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'The Secret Circle'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Unforgettable'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'The Playboy Club'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Charlie's Angels'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Grimm'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'New Girl'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
Take Me To The Pilots ' 11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.