Poster: Mr. Television
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Somebodies aired from September until October 2008 on BET.
This short lived sitcom chronicles the lives of black college
students in Athens, Ga. It centers around Scottie( Hadjii ), an
everyday, party-hopping, church-going, African-American undergraduate
student looking for a good time with his friends and a little luck
with the ladies. Unfortunately for Scottie, his path to peace of mind
is fraught with a fire-and-brimstone preacher Reverend Hill ( Tyler
Craig), fun-loving friends and fellow students (Tory, Jelly, Marlo,
and Six), an eccentric southern family (Aunt Agnes, Uncle Skeeter and
Uncle Charles) and a sexy young woman (Diva) who, like everyone else
in his life, may have a screw or two loose. The sitcom is based on
the 2006 indie film of the same name and was the first sitcom
developed by BET.
A Review from The Washington Post
By Teresa Wiltz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
"Somebodies," BET's first-ever original scripted program, has a lot
riding on it. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a lot going for it.
The show, which debuts tonight, signals a radical shift in programming
for a network long synonymous with rump-shaking, controversy-stirring
music videos. For these new good intentions, we are thankful.
On the plus side, "Somebodies" travels terrain not trafficked in
sitcom TV since "A Different World": the lives of black college
students in the Dirty South, specifically, Athens -- home of the
University of Georgia, R.E.M. and the B-52s. And it's got director
Rusty Cundieff, who directed "Chappelle's Show" on Comedy Central and
the hysterically funny 1994 mockumentary "Fear of a Black Hat." And
it's got writer-star Hadjii, who has a way with the one-liner: If you
don't finish school, he says, "the only kinda woman you gonna get is a
YouTube woman who does freaky things to everybody." (Hadjii also will
direct some episodes.)
But potential and good intentions, in this case, do not a funny show
make. Which is too bad.
Early last year, BET -- led by its entertainment president, Hollywood
veteran Reggie Hudlin ("House Party") -- announced an impressive
lineup of scripted programming. The projects included not only
"Somebodies" but "Wifey," a drama starring Queen Latifah; "BUFU," an
animated sketch series directed by Orlando Jones; and "Hannibal," a
series about the Carthaginian general, produced by Vin Diesel.
Based on Hadjii's 2006 indie film, which was nominated for the Grand
Jury Prize at Sundance, "Somebodies" was the first to make it out of
The show, though, never quite jells. It's done in by stilted
performances, leaden pacing, sitcom cliches (straying wife stuffs
lover in closet, narrowly escaping being found out!) and some rather
unfortunate stereotyping. (White people are nasty! They like to share
"Somebodies" takes the Seinfeldian approach to sitcom humor, taking an
observation and stretching it out for comedic effect. As with
"Seinfeld," everyone is driven by self-interest, greed and, in no
small amount, hypocrisy.
Hadjii plays Scottie, a good-natured, church-going college student who
appears to be on the 20-year plan. Or, as his uncle tells him, "You
been in school since Jim Crow days." Scottie has four roommates who
are also motivationally challenged; an Elaine-type ex, Diva, who's
sometimes more than just a friend; and that nutty uncle, who makes out
publicly with his younger white wife -- his "Snow Angel." Except that
behind his back, Snow Angel hates Uncle with the heat of a thousand
Scottie is ambling through life, reluctant to make a change in the
status quo, perfectly happy to continue living the frat-boy style,
until his uncle and Diva shame him into making a move. It isn't until
he spots his new neighbors -- extremely flexible, scantily clad cuties
who invite him over to watch porn -- that Scottie decides that maybe
there's something to solo living. Except, of course, in a case of good
ol' comedic bait-and-switch, the cuties move out, only to be replaced
with the neighbors from hell -- neighbors for whom "boundaries" and
"personal space" are a foreign concept.
At a time when BET could sorely use an original hit, "Somebodies,"
unfortunately, is a miss.
Somebodies premieres tonight at 10:30 on BET.
A Review from The LA Times
Somebodies' just might grow on you
September 09, 2008|Robert Lloyd | Times Television Critic
The first scripted series in the 29-year history of BET, "Somebodies"
is also -- as far as I can remember or tell -- the first single-camera
African American comedy since Tim Reid's great, ahead-of-its-time
"Frank's Place" aired for a season on CBS two decades ago. (Put that
out on DVD, now, copyright holders.) Focusing on a group of nearly
post-collegiate friends in the university town of Athens, Ga. --
previously best-known as the home of R.E.M. and the B-52s -- it has
the flavor of an independent feature and indeed is based on one.
Not to denigrate three-camera, shot-before-a-live-audience comedy --
the three little words "I Love Lucy" are all the defense that the form
needs -- but there is a fundamental difference between that kind of
sitcom and this. The first puts the audience in the position of
watching a show, and the second drops the viewer into a world.
Certainly, some of the scenes in "Somebodies" (produced by the
executive producers of "The Bernie Mac Show") could be played before
an audience, with arrows pointing to the punch lines. But the best
involve the kind of relaxed batting back and forth of lines with no
hurry to get to the joke.
The Southern, small-town setting and extensive location shooting
contribute to that mood and set the series apart not only from the few
black comedies managing to survive elsewhere on the dial but from most
every other sitcom.
Like the film on which it's based, "Somebodies" is written and
directed by the single-named Hadjii, who also plays the central role
of Scotti, an amiable slacker in no hurry to finish school or assume
any sort of adult responsibility.
"Look at you up here walkin' around with one sock on," an uncle
upbraids him one afternoon on his front porch. (Scotti, who does have
only one sock on, is regularly upbraided by his relatives.) "That
ain't no way to live. Either put on the other sock or take that one
off. Just get it together, young 'un."
Hadjii isn't the most natural actor in his ensemble, which includes a
host of Atlanta-based stand-up comics, many reprising their film
roles. But he grows on you. I took his diamond-pattern sweater, with
his round, shaved head, to be a kind of a visual reference to the
Charlie Brown-ness of his character -- and a couple of episodes in,
ex-girlfriend Diva (Kaira Akita, formerly Kaira Whitehead) does indeed
refer to his "Charlie Brown big fat head."
And though his character is the nominal center of the action, Hadjii
hasn't pushed himself to the forefront. As often as not he's playing
the straight man, content to let his pals -- Nard Holston, Anthony K.
Hyatt, Corey Redding and Quante Strickland -- bounce their various
attitudes off one another, his relatives lecture him, his minister
rants. There is a lot of social satire specific to the black
experience but also incursions into "Seinfeld" territory, as in a
series of scenes about not wanting to taste another person's food.
Apart from Diva, who is madly self-actualizing ("Oprah taught me how
to live my life with no boundaries -- you see all this house? I can't
afford this"), Hadjii has fewer good ideas about what to do with his
female characters. There are henpecked-husband jokes, and a "Hide,
it's my husband" scene, and hot neighbor girls washing a car. But for
the most part, it avoids the obvious, even when it looks to be headed
there. Sweet, lyrical and a little cracked, it's worth seeking out.
A Review from The Mercury News
BET’s ‘Somebodies’ is best new fall comedy
By Mercury News | email@example.com |
PUBLISHED: September 10, 2008 at 5:48 am | UPDATED: August 14, 2016 at 3:11 am
Finding a high-quality scripted series on BET is about as likely as finding a smart comedy on MTV or the Travel Channel. It just doesn’t happen.
Improbably, one of the best new fall comedies isn’t on a broadcast channel; it’s on BET.
“Somebodies” (10:30 p.m. Tuesdays) is based on a movie of the same name that unspooled at the 2006 Dramatic Independent Film Competition at Sundance. The film has yet to see theatrical release, but that didn’t stop BET from partnering with the movie’s director, writer and star, who goes by the single name Hadjii, to turn it into a weekly series.
The film’s cast made the move to the TV show, which follows Scottie (Hadjii, who also wrote all 10 episodes of the first season) in his daily life as a “professional student” in a small Southern town (the show is filmed in Athens, Ga.). He’s still friendly with his ex-girlfriend, Diva (Kaira Akita), hangs with his longtime buddies, attends church regularly and seeks advice from his aunt and uncle. Now he’s getting ready to graduate, and his thoughts turn to the real world and growing up.
In Tuesday’s first episode, Scottie got lectured by his guidance counselor and attended a meeting of black radicals just for the free food. In a future, funnier episode, he moves into a new apartment and promptly acquires neighbors from hell, who want to borrow his cell phone and beg him for rides in his car.
“After you drop them off, can you drive me by the dollar store?” asks his new neighbor. “My girlfriend is getting married, and I want to get her something nice.”
Soon the couple next door are fighting, and Scottie must endure their bickering and screams.
“Why do broke people talk so loud?” he asks a friend. “It’s like, the less money you’ve got, the louder you talk. You go to a nice restaurant and you hear people mumbling to themselves, keeping it cool, right? And when you go to Church’s Chicken, everybody’s screaming!”
“Somebodies” occasionally suffers from lapses in logic; it doesn’t become clear until the third episode that Scottie had lived with his group of friends. But these are small missteps by someone new to the medium who’s still learning how to weave together characters and plot.
What makes “Somebodies” such a surprise is that the humor is smart, the situations relatable and the topics are generally universal. “Somebodies” airs on BET, but it’s not strictly “a black show,” as some viewers might expect.
“I think that in terms of quality, intelligence and approach, this certainly could air on any number of networks,” said BET’s Brett King, senior vice president of original programming and a former executive at the WB. “But I don’t know that mainstream networks would go for this show or have it be as pure. I think there would be some concerns about presenting some of the ideas and thoughts.”
He points to the episode “Taste Test,” which features Diva’s concerns about carefully presenting an image to her white co-workers in a largely white workplace. “We wanted to do a series that was very smart and very true and also one that invited people to BET who wouldn’t normally come to us,” King said. “We want to expand the existing BET audience.”
King said the “Somebodies” film is likely to air on BET after the first season of the show wraps up. And he praised Hadjii’s learning curve as he became a better actor, writer and director through the first season.
“His mixture of very deadpan and at times very broad comedy is really unique and refreshing,” King said. “We really think he has captured a world you don’t necessarily get to see very often. While not calling itself Athens, Ga., it very clearly is the South, and it very clearly is not a big city. It has a feel and flow you don’t normally get to see on television.”
For the Official BET Webpage go to https://web.archive.org/web/20090202040803/https://www.bet.com/OnTV/BETShows/somebodies
� Date: Sat March 21, 2009 � Filesize: 46.5kb � Dimensions: 536 x 400 �
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