Poster: Mr. Television
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Andy Dick, Kristin Lehman, Will Friedle, Kyle Sabihy, Katherine Ellis, Kieran Culkin and Taylor Handley (clockwise, from top left)
Go Fish aired from June until July 2001 on NBC.
Fish ( Kevin Culkin), had a plan. A new freshman at Westlake High, the teen schemer carefull plotted in his basement " war room" a 4 point campaign to become the most popular kid in school, in part by winning the affections of the school's most popular girl, sweet sophomore Jess( Katherine Ellis). Fish's pal's Krak (Kyle Sabihy), a big lug with surprising smarts, and Hazzard (Taylor Handley), a happy oblivious pretty boy, helped out but somehow every plan went awry. In part that was because of the boyish new teacher at Fish'e school, none other than his older brother Pete ( Will Friedle), who knew him to well. Pete had a plan too-to inspire the kids by acting like " one of them"( that didn't work to well), and to make out with sexy English Teacher Miss Eastwood ( Kristin Lehman). Ernie ( Andy Dick), was the wildly eccentric drama teacher who wore tie-dye shirts and offered generally good advice. Dr. Troutner ( Joe Flahert), was Pete's harried dad, and Mrs Troutner ( Molly Cheek),, his smothering mom.
A Review from Variety
June 18, 2001 3:03PM PT
By Phil Gallo
Yet another reason to mourn the loss of “Freaks and Geeks” and celebrate the genius of Linwood Boomer’s “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Go Fish” is a superficial and subpar look at the high school years that networks are so keen on exploiting these days. Show lacks fresh insights into the universal teen perils and as it attempts to dip into the realm of the bizarre, it makes one “Malcolm”-lite misstep after another.
It does, however, boast an impressive trio of actors playing the central band of friends — Kieran Culkin as Andy, Taylor Handley as Hazard and Kyle Sabihy as Henry — and they convey that oh-so-cute fusion of bewilderment, insouciance and contrivance. Beyond that, “Go Fish” is in trouble.
The Troutner family consists of doctor dad (Joe Flaherty), mom (Molly Cheek) and older son Pete (Will Friedle), who looks younger than most of the cast of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” yet somehow is the new teacher at brother Andy’s high school. Pete’s shots at being the hip new teacher fail in the pilot, as does Andy’s plot to earn the affections of sophomore babe Jess (Katherine Ellis).
In the first two episodes, airing back-to-back tonight, the jokes center on a mistaken assumption of homosexuality, drug abuse and dad’s devilish derring-do — the oh-so-naughty jumping into the neighbor’s pool when nobody’s home. Add to this a front-and-center, one-note, over-the-top performance from Andy Dick (has he ever given any other kind?) as drama teacher Ernie Hopkins.
Technically, there’s little about the show to make viewers want to return.
NBC; Tues. June 19, 8 p.m.
Production: Taped in Los Angeles by Touchstone Television in association with NBC Studios. Executive producers, Nina Wass, Gene Stein, Pam Brady; producer, Kent Zbornak; director, John Fortenberry; director of photography, Peter Smokler; editor.
Crew: Skip Collector; music, Jonathan Wolff, Paul Buckley; casting, Joseph Middleton, Michelle Morris-Gertz. 30 MIN.
Cast: Andy Troutner - Kieran Culkin Pete Troutner - Will Friedle Henry Krakowski - Kyle Sabihy Dr. Troutner - Joe Flaherty Hazard - Taylor Handley Jess Riley - Katherine Ellis Miss Eastwood - Kristin Lehman Mrs. Troutner - Molly Cheek
A Review from The Deseret News
'Fish' is sure no 'Malcolm'
By Scott D. Pierce
Deseret News television editor
Published: June 18, 2001 12:00 am
Updated: June 18, 2001 7:52 a.m.
Watching the NBC summer sitcom "Go Fish" will give you a whole new appreciation for . . . the Fox sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle."
"Malcolm" is everything that "Fish" wants to be but isn't.
Like "Malcolm," "Go Fish" (Tuesday, 7 and 7:30 p.m., Ch. 5) is a filmed half-hour comedy (shot on location, not in a studio with an audience). It's about a rather offbeat family. It centers on a smart teenager.
But the resemblance ends there. "Go Fish" has rightfully been relegated to the summer by NBC, which knows that the show isn't going anywhere.
Kieran Culkin stars as Andy "Fish" Troutman, a high school freshman whose big dream is to be popular. He and his geekish friends (Kyle Sabihy plays the smart, heavy one; Taylor Handley plays the good-looking, oblivious one) don't stand much of a chance in that arena, however. And Fish is struggling with the fact that not only was his older brother, Pete (Will Friedle of "Boy Meets World") a Big Man on Campus, but he's also the newest teacher at the high school.
(There's probably a better show to be had with Pete, but the character is relegated to a secondary role.)
Fish is a kid with big dreams, however, so he's also set his sights on a popular cheerleader (Katherine Ellis).
The reason "Malcolm" works and "Fish" doesn't has a lot to do with the vast difference in the quality of the writing, but it also has a lot to do with the casting. Culkin is no Frankie Muniz — whereas the star of "Malcolm" has both talent and a charm that fairly leaps off the small screen, Culkin never seems like anything other than a teenage actor. He's not terrible, but he's not talented enough to pull off writing as mediocre as what he's given.
But perhaps the most glaring difference between "Malcolm" and "Fish" involves the parents. "Malcolm's" Jane Kaczmarek and Bryan Cranston are magical, taking even the most outlandish situations and making them work by playing their parts like their characters are real. They make you buy it.
But nobody with an IQ in double digits would buy what Joe Flaherty and Molly Cheek are selling as the parents on "Go Fish." Granted, the parts are written in such a way that they're pretty much clueless idiots to begin with, but the actors' mugging is more appropriate to a sketch on "The Carol Burnett Show" than a sitcom that's trying to create its own form of reality.
Their big plotline in the pilot episode has them sneaking over to steal a swim in the neighbors' pool. You can see where this one is going from the start, and it's not even vaguely funny along the way.
And its conclusion could be a homage of sorts to the character of Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan) on "Malcolm." Or it could be outright plagiarism.
At the risk of beating this dead horse, "Malcolm" is as successful as it is because you can believe that, however outlandish the circumstances might be, this is a real family. It's fresh, funny and distinctive.
"Go Fish," however, is just a pale imitation that seems built out of pieces of other, older shows. By the time the pilot is over, it already feels old.
Lending his presence to "Go Fish" and all but rendering it unwatchable is Andy Dick, who seems determined to cement his title as The Most Annoying Man on Television. Dick, whose talents have always been unidentifiable — or is that nonexistent? — is at his worst, playing the school's drama teacher with so much drama you want to reach through the screen and slap him.
Dick is one of several of Pete's fellow faculty members on the show, which seems to have adopted the theory that if you jam a lot of characters in a half hour one or two of them are going to be funny. "Go Fish" proves that theory wrong, however.
If you must, watch Tuesday's premiere of "Go Fish." Then watch a rerun of "Malcolm." Any rerun of "Malcolm."
You'll never watch "Go Fish" again.
A Review From The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEW; The Quest to Be Cool in High School
By ANITA GATES
Published: June 19, 2001
Kieran Culkin doesn't look much like his famous brother, Macaulay; instead, he has the air of a baby Robert Downey Jr. Andy Dick has gone over the top and beyond as a high school drama teacher who makes Chris Elliott's 30-something newsboy on ''Get a Life'' seem like a paragon of self-knowledge. Henry Krakowski (Kyle Sabihy) may be the first high-school-age television character who is fat, smart (so smart that his teachers hate him) and extremely cool. Whether this all adds up to a viable television series is questionable, but ''Go Fish,'' which has its premiere tonight on NBC with back-to-back episodes, is certainly worth a look. Possibly two.
This boldly silly sitcom's claim to attention is that it's from ''the writers of 'American Pie' and 'South Park.' '' Actually Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of Comedy Central's ''South Park,'' aren't involved, but Pam Brady, their co-writer on the ''South Park'' movie, is an executive producer and wrote the pilot with Adam Herz (who is indeed the author of the ''American Pie'' screenplay).
''Go Fish'' is the story of Andy Troutner (Mr. Culkin), known to his friends as Fish. Beginning his freshman year of high school, Fish has ''a foolproof multipoint plan for popularity and success.'' This includes winning the beautiful Jess (Katherine Ellis), whom he plans to marry after law school, although at the moment she doesn't know his name.
What makes ''Go Fish'' different is that when its characters develop wacky schemes, the plans sometimes work out. (Wouldn't Lucy and Ethel have enjoyed that once a season or so?) This is less apparent in the first episode than in the second, when Fish and a good-looking classmate, Amanda (Joanna Garcia), conspire to make the objects of their affections jealous by pretending to have a hot and heavy romance.
There are other complications in Fish's life. The most pressing is the return of his idol, his confident older brother, Pete (Will Friedle), who has moved back home and is starting his first job as a teacher -- at Fish's school. He is determined to be the coolest faculty member of all time, even though his subject, if I understood this correctly, is medieval literature. His suggestion that the students call him Trout Dog doesn't impress them; his promise that there will be no tests does.
''Go Fish'' has the distinction so far of offering the funniest gay humor (next to Sean Hayes's every breath as Jack on ''Will and Grace'') on network television. When Pete wrongly concludes that Fish's pal Hazard (Taylor Handley) is on drugs and tries to intervene, Hazard mistakes Pete's attention for romantic interest. Still, Hazard tells Krakowski, he wouldn't mind seeing the Adam Sandler movie that Pete invited him to. ''Yeah,'' Krakowski says, ''but you're not gay.'' Hazard gives him a hurt look and answers, ''That doesn't mean I don't want to be treated nice.''
Heterosexuality is depicted with less aplomb. All attractive women, students and teachers alike, are photographed in slow motion, with wind machines ruffling their hair, or in fantasy poses. And Pete's advice to Fish, who is feeling discouraged in love, is: ''Never give up. Because you never know when a Swedish girl is going to have sex with you.''
NBC, tonight at 8
Nina Wass, Gene Stein and Pam Brady, executive producers; Kent Zbornak, producer; Adam Herz, creator and writer with Pam Brady; Allan Arkush, John Fortenberry, Peter Lauer and Arlene Sanford, directors. Produced by Touchstone Television Productions with NBC Studios.
WITH: Kieran Culkin, Will Friedle, Kyle Sabihy, Taylor Handley, Katherine Ellis, Andy Dick, Joanna Garcia, Kristin Lehman, Joe Flaherty and Molly Cheek.
A Review from The New York Daily News
THIS 'FISH' IS NO CATCH School sitcom oughta get the hook
BY Eric Mink
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, June 19, 2001, 12:00 AM
GO FISH. Tonight, 8 o'clock, NBC. 1 1/2 Stars. Let's be clear from the get-go: "Go Fish" is no "Freaks and Geeks.
" Yes, there are similarities: "Go Fish" is an NBC show about high school (present-day); "Freaks and Geeks" was an NBC show about high school (set in 1980). "Go Fish" revolves around three male friends who are non-athletic, non-cool freshmen; same for "Freaks and Geeks.
" And in "Go Fish," the father of the cutest of the three boys is played by Joe Flaherty; Flaherty played a remarkably similar role in "Freaks and Geeks.
" But here's the difference: "Freaks and Geeks," which NBC killed with atrocious scheduling and weak promotion, was a finely crafted, insightful and sometimes poignant hour-long drama with frequent flashes of hilarious comedy. The half-hour "Go Fish," on the other hand, is labeled a comedy but contains precious little of it and, judging from the first two episodes, no insight or poignance to speak of. "Go Fish," which premieres tonight at 8 with two back-to-back episodes, works very hard to achieve a tone of whimsical absurdity but invariably comes up lame. Kieran Culkin stars as Andy (Fish) Troutner, with Taylor Handley and Kyle Sabihy as his two freshman buddies at Westlake High School. Will Friedle plays Fish's older brother, Pete, whose former popularity as a Westlake student doesn't do him much good as a first-year teacher there. Perhaps the strangest element of "Go Fish" is comic actor Andy Dick, who plays Westlake's hyper-flaky drama coach, Ernie Hopkins. His scenes, which somehow feel both carefully plotted and ad-libbed, are used for comic relief - not exactly a good sign for a sitcom. In the first of tonight's two shows, Fish tells his pals about his game plan for social success in high school, a plan that, predictably, hits several embarrassing snags. More amusing, if no less predictable, are Pete's pathetic efforts to convince his new students that he's really one of them. In the second episode, airing at 8:30, Fish is drawn into a relationship with a girl who turns out to be using him in her own plan for social success. And Pete, with Hopkins' encouragement, thinks he has sniffed out a student with a drug problem. Both story lines get some mileage from multiple misunderstandings, and the episode works a bit better than the pilot that precedes it. That's not saying much, though; "Go Fish" suggests we're in for a long, dry TV summer.
A Review From The Michigan Daily
High school hell revisited in ''Fish''
By Jennifer Fogel, Daily Arts Editor
A new trend has developed on television involving a look back at our better days, when we were young and innocent and life was basically hell. From the WB"s now defunct "Popular" to old school "90210" (the "Brenda" episodes)," high school has become "the" setting for any truly interesting and moneymaking teen show. Once again, the NBC network higher-ups have decided to stay true to form and pull out from their replacement recesses "Go Fish," a truly unremarkable teen comedy set around a freshmen as he embarks on his tumultuous journey through high school.
"Go Fish" centers on Andy "Fish" Troutner (Kieran Culkin, Mac"s little bro), a freshman with a three-point, foolproof plan for high school popularity. Of course, being as this is supposedly a "comedy," Fish"s plan is thrown out of whack on his very first day, mostly due to his awkward but eccentric best buds, Hazard and Krack. Not only is his plan ruined by an unfashionable and lame attempt at sexual humor a la "American Pie," but the girl of his dreams, Jess (a beautiful sophomore) definitely doesn"t associate Fish with any impressive connotations.
Making the best of a bad situation, Fish listens to the advice from his older brother Pete (Will Friedle, "Boy Meets World"), who once was the king of the school and has now returned to become one of its oppressive yet clearly uninterested faculty. After having a rollercoaster of a day himself trying to make his students like him, he spouts off a long-winded story to Fish that ended with, "the moral of the story is: Don"t give up "cuz Swedish girls might have sex with you." Of course you probably don"t get that now it didn"t make sense then either.
"Go Fish" has some high points, mostly in the wonderful ensemble that the producers have brought together which includes Andy Dick. He plays ironically enough a drama teacher. Fish"s friend Krack (Kyle Sabihy, "Analyze This") is too good for this show, relegated to a sidekick who only gets screen time when he"s trying to prove that he"s smarter than all of his teachers combined.
It comes as no surprise that "Go Fish" was created from the likes of Adam Herz whom we all at the University remember as "that guy who made "American Pie."" Guess he has a thing for high school. Unfortunately, this high school is too fantastical and ripe with drivel. Friedle"s Pete is basically an "older" version of his former character, Eric, from "Boy Meets World." Culkin seems to try really hard to turn the blandness of the script into a work of art, but definitely falls short in the execution.
Like Fish, "Go Fish" means well and only wants to be popular. What is really irritating is that NBC had a wonderful and critically acclaimed "high school" dramedy in "Freaks & Geeks." But as most of us who adored the show know, ratings are the be all and end all for television. Thus, the moral of the story is: Watching "Go Fish" isn"t going to lead to sex with Swedish girls if your lucky it might lead to another nauseating rendition of high school hell.
A Review From The San Francisco Chronicle
'Go Fish' is like summer love
New NBC sitcom is too good to last
Tim Goodman, Chronicle Television Critic
Tuesday, June 19, 2001
GO FISH: Sitcom. 8 p.m. Tuesdays (a second episode follows this week at 8:30 p.m.), Channel 4
The problem in falling for summer TV shows, even the good-but-not-great- looking ones, is that they are oh so similar to the lovelies you once fell for on a daily basis when you were a young, naive pup: Your chance at long-term fulfillment, while not hopeless, is small indeed.
The history of TV is littered with quirky little gems that pop up in the summer and get you smitten with all their cute traits. But they end up being meaningless flings when, six weeks later, they disappear forever. Or until next summer.
And so it is that it's hard to get anyone in a lather about "Go Fish," a surprisingly quirky, only slightly flawed little offering from NBC about coming of age as a high school freshman. As these kinds of series go, it's a wonderfully crafted half hour that avoids that ridiculously grown-up tone or the painfully smarmy attitude of so many others.
No, "Go Fish" is actually a whole lot of fun, a show that sneaks up on you and makes you laugh or at least smirk happily, thinking along the way, "Why did NBC keep this show off its schedule?"
Answer: It's NBC, and maybe the people in charge have been green-lighting so many Thursday night clunkers that they have absolutely no clue as to what a good sitcom looks like. Or, and here's the part you almost hate to buy into (like when that unattainable thing of beauty says he or she will call you), maybe "Go Fish" will do so well in the summer that it will earn a midseason replacement order from a suddenly enlightened NBC.
Stranger things have happened. Like Bobcat Goldthwait and Nikki Cox. And there have been left-for-dead summer "burn-offs" that the networks have, much to their credit, revived for midseason. Here's hoping that happens with "Go Fish," which comes from some of the writers of "American Pie" and "South Park."
It's the story of Andy Troutner (nicknamed Fish), played by Kieran Culkin in a role that is neither dimple cute or adult sassy -- which means he acts just like a freshman in high school, as he's supposed to. Oh, his character is a little odd, sure. He's got a four-point plan for mastering high school and becoming popular in the process (plus getting Jess, the cute cheerleader who's way out of his league).
But you know that Fish and his friends Hazard (Taylor Handley) and Krakowski (Kyle Sabihy) are about as likely to become high school studs as the unrequited-love metaphor in this story is of ending anytime soon.
Ah, but it's the journey, right? By ceaselessly trying to be hip, not get beat up, win the attention of girls and actually pass some classes, the travails of this trio should be endlessly entertaining. There's enough evidence in the first two shows to suggest it'll only get better. It may not be "Malcolm in the Middle," nor "Freaks and Geeks," nor "My So Called Life," but "Go Fish" is way better than the hordes of other coming-of-age sitcoms we let sign our Nielsen yearbooks only to forget almost instantly when they disappear.
"Go Fish" is a show you get behind because if you don't, it's dead. All the little things are there -- the teen actors are good, funny and not sickening. The parents are well cast (Joe Flaherty from "Freaks and Geeks" and Molly Cheek from "American Pie"). Even Andy Dick, in a supporting role as the over- the-top drama instructor (naturally), is in rare form. Maybe the premise about Fish's popular happy-go-lucky brother Pete (Will Friedle) coming back to high school as a teacher (when he looks about the same age as the teachers who supposedly taught him) is a bit far-fetched. But who cares -- it's light-years better than "Cursed."
Which raises the question -- after all the lame comedies that NBC has foisted on viewers over the past five seasons, is it really true that when it finally gets a decent one it has kicked the show into summer oblivion?
Talk about blind devotion. Look, just go on the six or so dates with "Go Fish" you're going to get, then hope NBC has a change of heart on its cruel fate by next midseason.
For more on Go Fish go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_Fish_%28TV_series%29
For a page about Kieran Culkin and relationships go to http://famous-relationships.topsynergy.com/Kieran_Culkin/
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Keywords: The Cast of Go Fish (Larger Photo)