Nobodies Thinks Anybody Can Relate to Everybody Trying to Connect to Somebody

Title: Nobodies
Network: TV Land
Airs: Wednesdays 9 p.m. (central)
Starring:   Hugh Davidson, Rachel Ramras, Larry Dorf
Rating: TV-PG
Reviewer: Susan Tolleson
FA Scorecard: S

I wanted to like Nobodies, TVLand’s newest comedy. I really did. After all, it’s produced by comedic powerhouse couple Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy. I had high hopes for this potentially hilarious comedy, dreaming it would replace that empty spot in my soul that once belonged to The Office and Parks and Recreation. But after watching the pilot and first episode, I won’t be making time for it in my playlist, and it makes me miss the now-cancelled Jim Gaffigan Show (which aired 23 episodes on TVLand last year) even more.

One of the problems with Nobodies is that it’s all one big inside joke. It’s like being invited to your friend’s house, only to arrive and find out you’re the only one not related to him. On top of that, he’s going to show videos from 20 years of vacations and everybody in the room appears to have accompanied him on at least one. Everyone but you that is. While everyone in the room are laughing their heads off, you’re wondering what you’re doing there and how long you have to stay. (And he didn’t even serve snacks!)

I’m sure it’s really funny if you work in Hollywood. All the travails the main characters go through to pitch their script and get some traction is probably something Hollywoodians eat, breathe and sleep. It’s likely the topic of every good dinner table conversation and the highlight of any gathering out in LaLa Land. But it seems the creators (and TVLand) have forgotten their viewers are folks who enjoy watching syndicated shows from the 1980s and ‘90s and have probably only just upgraded from a flip phone in the past few months! I realize they’re trying to attract a younger audience to the network, but if you can’t relate to what it’s like to blow pitch after pitch to disinterested Paramount executives, drop names like Maya Rudolph and Jason Bateman, and lie about your connections to Melissa McCarthy, then really, the interest level quickly drops off.

I’ll spare you the show’s details other than to say it’s about three writers (Hugh Davidson, Rachel Ramras and Larry Dorf, also the creators of the show) who have been working on an animated series for Nickelodeon called “The Fartlemans” (apparently the three write for the Cartoon Network’s “The Loony Toons Show” in real life). They have crafted a script called “Mr. First Lady,” and in the process of shopping it, suggest Melissa McCarthy has agreed to star in it when, in fact, the three have never talked with her about it. Craziness ensues, chaos follows, shenanigans commence, and in the end, they send Jason Bateman to the hospital with a knee injury, use inappropriate phrases in innocent ways, accost Allison Janney in an elevator, and talk over each other – a LOT! And Melissa still doesn’t know she’s supposed to be in their show.

What I learned from the first two episodes:

–              Animated script writers don’t get no respect in H-land. (Apparently, the joke “We’ve been doing animation.” “For Fox?” “Nickelodeon.” “Ohhhh.” is laugh-out-loud funny if you hang out in the land of show biz. It must be; it was repeated several times.)

–              Talking over each other was made popular by NBC’s fan-favorite award-winning drama Parenthood but that still doesn’t make it right.

–              Just because you drop a celebrity into a cameo, it doesn’t mean the show becomes a “must-watch.” Frankly, I was embarrassed for some of the big-name stars and secretly glad Bateman got injured on the basketball court after a few seconds and had to go have “surgery.” (You escaped that one, dude!)

–              And the vacation-reminiscing night you were invited to? What if it was actually a family reunion where everyone went to school together…except you? This is actually true – the three creators are alumni of The Groundlings, an improve/sketch comedy school and theater in L.A. (think middle school for the SNL graduate school) with the likes of Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Lisa Kudrow, Jon Lovitz, Maya Rudolph, Kathy Griffin, Chris Kattan and Julia Sweeney.

–              If you sleep with your friend and co-writer in the second episode, it doesn’t make it at all uncomfortable for the rest of the episodes.

It’s unfortunate McCarthy and Falcone have attached their names to something that’s not just juvenile (to be fair, their humorous work often falls into this category) but something that’s trying so hard to pat itself on the back, that it breaks an arm in the process. And Nobody wants to see that.

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