Friday, September 05, 2008

Fox Fall Pilot Review: Do Not Disturb - Premieres September 10; RTN Coming to Knoxville

Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb - Wednesdays 9:30PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Wednesday, September 10, 2008 at 9:30PM ET/PT

Do Not Disturb is a workplace comedy set at one of New York City's hottest and hippest hotels: The Inn. Named one of the Big Apple's "10 Best Places to Stay," The Inn is just that -- the "in" place to be, with its chic décor, stylish staff and celebrity clientele. Behind the scenes, however, the upstairs/downstairs dynamic tells quite a different story.

The hotel's top-notch reputation and sophisticated look is due in large part to NEAL (Jerry O'Connell) -- at least in his opinion. Neal is the egotistical, womanizing general manager who will do whatever it takes to make sure the hotel is considered the best party in town. RHONDA (Niecy Nash) is the head of Human Resources who also keeps Neal's demands in check. She's brash, fabulous and brutally honest and runs the HR department from her bullpen downstairs with a set of rules that are all her own. Rhonda does her best to keep the back of the house in line and the front of the house out of trouble.

At the front desk handling check-in while wearing 6-inch Manolos is NICOLE (Molly Stanton), an aging model who is svelte, cynical and slightly starving. The downstairs staff includes MOLLY (Jolene Purdy), a reservations clerk who dreams of pop-singer stardom as much as she craves to be part of the action upstairs; LARRY (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), the head of housekeeping, who spends more time on the phone cleaning up his messes at home than he does cleaning up after the guests upstairs; and bellman GUS (Dave Franco), a roadie for a rock band who was left behind when the band left town.

Cast Details:

Stars:
* Niecy Nash as Rhonda Peet
* Jerry O'Connell as Neal
* Molly Stanton as Nicole
* Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Larry
* Jolene Purdy as Molly Poleski
* Dave Franco as Gus
Recurring Stars:
* Brando Eaton as Jason
* Robert Wagner as R.J

I don't know who several of these people are, to be quite sincere. It's not meant to be an offense, but I just don't recognize a lot of the names. There are a few I DO recognize: Jerry O'Connell's TV credits include the series Crossing Jordan, Carpoolers and Sliders. Molly Stanton did the soap Passions and was on the short lived WB sitcom Twins, a generally poor show with a fairly good cast. Robert Wagner is a fairly recognizable name as he has appeared on stage and in screen in many productions (TV's Hart to Hart). Don't recognize anyone else in the cast list, including star Niecy Nash, which is a double-edged sword.

Pilot Plot:

Apparently, the episode I was sent (titled "Work Sex" running 21:54) isn't the pilot but rather the episode Fox is leading off with. The pilot must've really stunk. In "Work Sex," an article about the sexual exploits of the staff -- the staff meaning the Neal character -- appears in a local generic New York magazine. The Rhonda character chides Neal hard for his actions, causing Neal to try to fly the straight-and-narrow when presented with an attractive co-worker. Meanwhile, in typical cliché fashion, Rhonda gets caught up in some office romance herself. Meanwhile, the character Molly (not to be confused with Actress-Molly) helps Nicole (the actress Molly) with her stalled modeling career. Which is guffawingly ironic since character-Molly happens to be...you guessed it...plus-sized. Maybe South Park was on to something a few years ago when they talked about manatees and "idea balls." Actually, the Molly/Nicole stuff provided me some of the biggest chuckles of the episode -- though at no point did I outright laugh. Meanwhile, Gus helps Larry with his love live. And for those of you playing Sitcom Cliché Bingo, yep, Larry's gay.

Analysis:

I couldn't even make it to the analysis before throwing the show under the bus. Seriously, this is the episode they're leading off with? Was the supposed pilot actually WORSE? And they canceled Back to You in order to air this? Really, for goodness sakes? You know if something I see later in the season impresses me I'll be perfectly happy to admit to being wrong. And if the show catches ratings fire of course I'll backtrack since I like to look good. But really, the episode I saw here just wasn't very good. It was taking every played out cliché in the book and just throwing them at the wall. I always reserve the right to change my mind, but what I saw here actually managed to lower my opinion of the show drastically.

It's nothing personal against the folks on the show -- for the roles they're given, they do the best they can though the characters are your usual sitcom throwbacks. The real problem here is the paper-thin writing. It's nothing new. It's all material that we've seen before on a hundred different shows from where I sit. Here's the thing, though: It's still not the worst sitcom on the air. There are other shows on other networks that fit that bill well enough. But at best its background noise that once or twice in 21 minutes might get a chuckle out of you and at worst it's a half-hour jam packed with as many sitcom throwback plot devices and gimmicks as the writers could draw out of a hat.

Conclusion:

When the dirty work needs to be done, that's why I'm brought in. And in less than a thousand words, I hope I've explained exactly why this show just isn't very good. The only bright spot is that it's not very bad either. It is 21 minutes of filler to keep as background noise in between commercials. Which is the minimum you can ask of a TV show anyway. Who knows, if it stays on the air long enough, it might even figure out how to be genuinely funny.

I'll tune in midseason (if it's still on) and give it another look, assuming the show doesn't dive into the CW-inhabited ratings basement within the first three shows. And who knows, the show might catch ratings fire -- that aforementioned show on another network has managed to stay on the air a really long time despite being really bad. But if a great show like Back to You can die on the vine in a year and a thoroughly decent show like ‘Til Death is probably 13 episodes from oblivion, then this show is probably D.O.A. It should at least run for longer than Happy Hour did though -- which at least is a positive. I appreciate that some network is willing to still run multi-camera sitcoms, but come on, try making one of them good (And when you DO make a good one, don't cancel it after one season you fools).

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Funniness: 1.5/5
Watchability: 1.5/5
Overall: 1.5/5

-- Reviewed by Seth on 09/05/08

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Do Not Disturb Photo Gallery



  • On to some news...
    Gold! Retro Television Network (RTN) announced today that WMAK-Knoxville, Channel 7, plans to add RTN programming to its lineup beginning Monday.
    RTN is of course the first completely customizable, national television network to provide a 24/7 digital feed of hit shows to each of its affiliates. The network's unique design allows each affiliate to remain in complete control while RTN runs the local and national master control from its central hub. RTN also offers customizable news and weather for each market, hosted by network-provided talent.

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