40 Hours of Television

The class is over, but the discussion continues. Does the media shape reality, or does reality shape the media? Art can imitate life...and life can imitate art. "40 Hours of TV" will explore the media and its impact on us all.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Death Of The Sitcom: WB's "Twins"

Readers old enough to remember the late 1970s and early 1980s may recall that many a TV critic bemoaned the death of the situation comedy. Being a fan of Three's Company I disagree with that assessment, but still, critics wondered when sitcoms would "return." Critics got their wish with the debut of The Cosby Show in 1984.

Fast-forward 21 years and, with the current television season of new programming underway, and I will say it: the sitcom is dead. Exhibit A is The War At Home, which I reviewed here after its debut. Exhibit B is Twins, airing Friday nights on The WB.

The pilot episode introduced us to the "twins": Mitchee (Roseanne's Sara Gilbert) and Farrah (Passions Molly Stanton). The two are twins in the same way that Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzeneger were twins in the movie of the same name, meaning, it would have made more sense to just have the two are sisters, not twins. I'm just saying.

Writers Dana Klein and Kari Lizer must have dusted off The Complete Idiot's Guide to Situation Comedy Writing (I know, it's not a real book, but still...) and decided to make one twin super-smart (Mitchee) and the other, well, dumb as a box of rocks (Farrah). Just the recipe to get the laughs rolling! Of course, the smart twin is a brunette while the dumb twin is a blonde. Originality in a sitcom, finally!

The family is rounded out by a freakishly bloated Mark Linn-Baker (Perfect Strangers) as father Alan and a freakishly preserved Melanie Griffith as mother Lee, who apparently is, shall we say, developmentally disabled (the dumb blonde! Brilliant!) The family is in the lingerie business, and in the pilot, the "twins" are faced with the dillema of taking over the business.

Twins is brought to you by the same folks who created Will and Grace, but I think they forgot the whole comedy aspect of a situation comedy in creating Twins. What in the hell happened to wit? Wacky humor? A script that is funny? Here's an example of a joke from the show: Alan and Lee are at a fashion show to promote their latest line of lingerie, and after Alan talks about how his girls are going to take over the family business, Lee pipes up that giving birth to them was like "pooping out two watermelons," or something to that effect. Ha! Funny! Well, funny if you're an eight-year-old. A poop joke?

Anyway, bottom line is I hated just about everyone on the show, with the exception of Sara Gilbert. She was good on Roseanne as Darlene and she's good in Twins. The show isn't good for her, I think. As for everyone else, well, it was hard to get past the freakishly bloated Mark Linn-Baker, as he brought back bad memories of Perfect Strangers. Melanie Griffith played her role too well, but if we have a season's worth of dumb blonde jokes ahead of us, I need to find something better to do with my life, such as watching a freshly painted wall dry. Time for my sitcom prediction: this one will stay around for a while, unfortunately. Grade: C-

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