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Bob Patterson aired from October 2, 2001 until October 31, 2001 on ABC.
Bob Patterson ( Jason Alexander), was America's self-proclaimed " number 3 motivational speaker," the author of the best-selling I Know More Than You ( and it's sequel, I Still Know More Then You). Despite his success, and his swank home in the Hollywood Hills, his own life was a mess. A voluble, insecure little runt, he mugged, gave exagerated reactions and strutted around, but usually botched everything he touched. Janet ( Jennifer Aspen), was his goofy ex-wife, a New Age type; Jeffrey ( James Guidice), his chubby smart-mouthed son ( by another wife); Landeau ( Robert Klein), his loud sycophantic assistant; Claudia ( Chandra Wilson), his clumsy wheelchair bound secretary, who kept running into things; and Vic ( Phil Buckman), his incompetent intern. The jokes were stale or offensive -or both. Endless negative comparrisons with Jason Alexander's previous series , the infinately better written Seinfeld, brought a quick demise for this pedestrian effort.
A Review from the Deseret News
Big trouble on 'Bob'
By Scott D. Pierce
Deseret News television editor
Published: October 1, 2001 12:00 am
Updated: Oct. 1, 2001 8:01 a.m.
PASADENA, Calif. — If you listen to Jason Alexander talk about why his new sitcom, "Bob Patterson," shouldn't be labeled a "troubled show," he almost makes sense.
But once you get a look at an episode of the new ABC show (which debuts Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Ch. 4), you realize that "troubled" doesn't go far enough. "Bob Patterson" is downright dreadful.
Alexander stars as the title character, a motivational speaker whose life is a mess. His wife, Janet (Jennifer Aspen) left him; his son's a slacker; his partner, Landau (Robert Klein), is no help; his new assistant (Chandra Wilson) is confined to a wheelchair; and he's got problems with (guest star) John Tesh.
It all adds up to an unfortunate attempt to build off the success of "Seinfeld" and Alexander's character on that show, George Costanza.
"We purposely created Bob out of the ashes of George. . . . It's purposely meant to be a continuation of sorts of George," Alexander said.
Um, George was a second banana. He didn't have to carry the show. Neither George nor Bob is capable of that.
"Bob Patterson" stoops incredibly low — there's even a "joke" about the bombshell of a water-delivery woman's "big jugs." And unfunny "jokes" about sex, race, ethnicity and even disabilities.
The fact that Alexander, an alumnus of the hallowed "Seinfeld," would star in his own show made news all by itself. But the next time "Bob Patterson" hit the headlines was when, after the pilot was produced, executive producer Tim Doyle quit the show.
But Alexander had an explanation. He said Doyle was imposed on the show by ABC and Touchstone, the production company, because creator/executive producer, Peter Tilden, "didn't inspire the confidence of the network when I brought him back to the table."
Hmmmmm . . .
Alexander's other hand-picked show-runner, executive producer Ira Steven Behr, is best known as e.p. of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
"Now, Ira has committed the tragic sin of being a very experienced show-running producer in one-hour drama, not in half-hour comedy," Alexander said. "And in the world of networks and studios, that's an apple and an orange."
So the network and the studio insisted on an experienced sitcom show-runner "to baby sit and to nursemaid" the other producers. And Doyle never had much to do.
Alexander said he assumed Doyle left because he felt "under-utilized."
"He left without talking to anyone. . . . There was no rancor, there was no bitterness, he just felt like there was nothing for him to do," Alexander said. "Somewhere along the way, that became big problems at 'Bob Patterson.' "
All of which makes perfect sense if you haven't seen the first couple of episodes of the show, which are awful.
Alexander is also under the impression that the other half of the why-it's-a-troubled-show aura that surrounds "Bob" came as the result of recasting done after the pilot was completed. (Including a new ex-wife, a new intern and the addition of the son.)
"We recast not because the other actors were wrong. They were actually wonderful," he said. "One of the most painful things we've ever done is to not invite them back to the party, because they were terrific."
They were so terrific, they were fired.
And in pure Hollywood-speak, he added that the original Janet "was not an organic character" (which, essentially, means anything you want it to mean) and that it was changed. Minutes later Behr said changes to the Janet character would be "nothing that substantial."
The third character added after the pilot, Bob's 17-year-old slacker son, didn't make it in the first episode because "We didn't have enough time," Alexander insisted.
OK . . .
"But that's all the turmoil on this very troubled show," he said sarcastically.
And he professes not to be worried about the bad press.
"I think it's a story nobody really cares about," Alexander said. And, again, he's right — the simple fact that TV critics label a show "troubled" isn't going to kill it.
But being as bad as "Bob Patterson" is will be its death warrant.
A Review from Variety
(Series -- ABC; Tues., Oct. 2; 9 p.m.)
By MICHAEL SPEIER
Filmed in Los Angeles by 20th Century Fox Television, Touchstone Television and Angel Ark Prods. Executive producers, Jason Alexander, Ira Steven Behr, Tim Doyle, Peter Tilden; producer, Franco E. Bario; director, Barnet Kellman; writers, Alexander, Behr, Doyle, Tilden.
Bob Patterson - Jason Alexander
Landau - Robert Klein
Janet - Jennifer Aspen
Claudia - Chandra Wilson
Les - Jau Paulson
Where have you gone, George Costanza? Three years after logging off as TV's most neurotic sidekick, Jason Alexander is back as TV's most neurotic motivational speaker in "Bob Patterson." Since it will forever be the custom to compare every new sitcom's inspiration, writing and staying power to "Seinfeld," it stands to reason that the classic's cast -- and their moves -- will be similarly scrutinized. The track record so far? Michael Richard's self-titled laffer was nixed after only seven episodes last year, and now viewers have to endure this much re-worked, re-cast mess.
Had the network and writers chosen the intellectual route, a la NBC's "Frasier" (its timeslot competitor), "Bob Patterson" coulda been a contender: A professional positivity freak who can't organize his own affairs is a good setup. What's more, it's ripe for supporting characters, situations and fast dialogue that spotlight its star's anxiety and compulsions. As it stands, it's just plain stale, a half-hour filled with boob jokes and cripple jokes.
Bob is the self-appointed, "No. 3" self-help guru on the circuit, and he's ultraconfident onstage with meaningless catchphrases such as, "The only thing standing between you and your goals is you and your goals." In reality, he's much less suave, making bad decisions about women, about himself and about his career.
Pilot is an introduction-fest, as Bob has lost his creative spark right before a big convention in La Jolla. His right-hand man is Landau (Robert Klein), a kiss-ass yes man who says all the wrong things and whose only job is to tell Bob how great he is. Also driving him mad are Claudia (Chandra Wilson), a black secretary who uses a wheelchair (and is the butt of many tasteless jokes); and Maria (guest Alex Meneses), a gorgeous delivery woman who fuels Bob's libido. Doesn't your office have a Sparklett's gal who could be a model?
As Bob suffers through his creative drought, his wife comes back after a fling. Janet (Jennifer Aspen) is a flighty artisan who's into self awareness (how very Dharma!), but now that she's back, she's declared herself celibate. It's up to Bob to handle these life-changing situations while John Tesh shows up to complain about an infomercial in which he stars with Bob on the beach.
"Bob Patterson" is, unexpectedly, not funny at all. Like a decade-old rerun, the laughtrack seems to be going at full steam and the rimshot one-liners -- there's actually a comment about Maria's "jugs" as she carries two big bottles of water -- are as juvenile and washed-up as they come.
Perfs are also sketchy. Alexander is a pro here, trying his best to carry the load (his trademark instability bubbles up only rarely), but it doesn't click. Even without a "Seinfeld" comparison, this project, which he co-exec produced and co-wrote, isn't edgy or topical. And like so many recently cancelled shows -- "Kristin," "D.A.G." -- the office-generated relationships are staged and jokey.
Rest of the players fall flat. Klein is shapeless as the clueless partner-in-crime; his role model should have been "Just Shoot Me's" George Segal, pitch-perfect as a supporting character who strengthens a narrative without crowding it. Aspen, who came aboard after the original wife was recast, is too hyper and unfocused, and her Jenna Elfman-ness feels forced. Wilson is there only to serve as a comic punching bag.
A Review from the New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEWS; A Hopeless And Helpless Self-Help Specialist
By CARYN JAMES OCT. 2, 2001
Anyone who saw ABC's wry, clever promos for ''Bob Patterson'' this summer -- Charlie Sheen and Regis Philbin saying that Bob Patterson, the country's No. 3 self-help guru, made them who they are -- be prepared for a letdown. The show's fresh premise has been turned into an irredeemable, trite sitcom. With Jason Alexander as the whining, insecure Bob (he's still George from ''Seinfeld,'' only successful) the series may be the season's biggest disappointment, with its potentially hilarious hero wrapped in already exhausted jokes.
The character of Bob calls for sardonic wit, and a few touches are still visible through the sitcom murk. He is the author of ''I Know More Than You'' and its sequel, ''I Still Know More Than You,'' whose mocking titles capture the bluster and pretension of real self-help authors.
Mr. Alexander can play the smarmy motivational speaker with expert sharpness. He did that last spring, delivering an onstage monologue as Bob when ABC presented its new shows to advertisers. He was followed by a clip of the pilot, which looked dismal. Tonight's first show has been tweaked since then, but not nearly enough.
As the self-help expert who can't help himself, Bob is as strident as George, and if you're going to build a series around an essentially unlikable, one-note guy, he has to be surrounded by funnier characters. Instead, Bob has a sexy ex-wife who returns to him but is now celibate. At the office, where much of the series is set, he has a business partner known only as Landau, who makes predictable jokes about Bob's height and ineptitude with women. As Landau, Robert Klein yells while Mr. Alexander screeches, and they all share an overbearing laugh track. There are guest stars -- John Tesh tonight, Bo Derek next week -- who supposedly make fun of their own images but are treated too gently for satire.
The series even flees from its own outrageous impulses. Bob's new assistant, Claudia (Chandra Wilson), is a black woman in a wheelchair who is so clumsy she keeps destroying office furniture. When the staff members sees her apparently standing, they place bets on whether she is simply leaning on a counter or faking her disability. Bob smooths over the situation, and Claudia tells him he is nicer than her old boss, who was, she says, ''kind of Jew-y.''
''Jew-y?'' Mr. Alexander says to no one in particular, and that's the end of it. Why head in that direction if you're afraid to explore the humor?
In next week's episode, Bob wears short pants and a cap with a stuffed raccoon on top to give a speech to a group of Frontier Scouts. The silly but unfunny costume is always a sign of desperation, and this one comes so soon.
ABC, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
(Channel 7 in New York)
Executive producers, Jason Alexander, Ira Steven Behr and Peter Tilden. A production of 20th Century Fox Television and Touchstone Television.
WITH: Jason Alexander (Bob Patterson), Robert Klein (Landau), Jennifer Aspen (Janet), Chandra Wilson (Claudia), Phil Buckman (Vic) and James Guidice (Jeffrey).
A Review From Entertainment Weekly
Lest anyone accuse Jason Alexander of recycling, he'll happily allow that, yes, ''Bob Patterson'' is partly George Costanza -- but an older, richer, slightly wiser George. ''Bob is a success,'' he says of the titular motivational guru, ''but he's not the biggest success, and his ambition and ability are not in accord.''
That sounds more like it. Mindful of the comic pleasure milked from Costanza's angst, Alexander, 41, and fellow ''Patterson'' exec producer Peter Tilden plan to keep Bob miserable at work and at home. At the office, he'll be subject to the dotty ministrations of his right-hand man, Landau, played by stand-up Robert Klein. (The pairing was inspired by Garry Shandling and Rip Torn's barbed repartee in ''The Larry Sanders Show.'' And, yes, the character was originally conceived for Martin Landau, but it was later decided the role required a younger actor.) And in a clear one-upping of the wheelchair-bound character ''Seinfeld'' once sent brakeless down a hill, Bob's klutzy secretary (Chandra Wilson) provides tons of politically incorrect comic potential: By making her disabled and black and a woman, Alexander says, ''you load up the plate to create an employee that you cannot, under any circumstances, fire.''
As for Bob's personal demons, first on the list is his ex-wife (Jennifer Aspen), who returns to live with him, but is sticking to a new vow of celibacy. ''[She] has his heartstrings in some profound ways,'' says Alexander. ''He just can't get rid of her. It's a big 'buy' of the situation,'' he concedes. ''I don't even think we can explain it. We just have to go 'That's the way it is' and hope everybody adores her as much as we do.''
He's had a trickier time handling the negative press ''Patterson'' got after the defection of exec producer Tim Doyle. For many, it was all too reminiscent of the turmoil that preceded last year's execrable ''The Michael Richards Show,'' the first solo project from one of ''Seinfeld'''s lead quartet. ''I don't think [Doyle] found funny what we found funny,'' Alexander says. ''Peter is a Philadelphia Jew, I'm a New Jersey Jew, [exec producer] Ira Steven Behr's a New York Jew -- those are the rhythms we write in. I don't know where Tim is from, but I can tell you that he's not a Jew. It's not that only a Jew can write our show, but I don't think he found funny what we found funny.'' (Doyle did not comment.)
In any case, Alexander and Co. will have to keep people from all walks of life chuckling if ''Patterson'' is to hold its own against a certain other self-help professional over on NBC. ''I have no illusions about knocking 'Frasier' off the air,'' says Alexander. But, citing ''Seinfeld'' history, he suggests that the scheduling gambit just might work: '''Frasier' finds itself going into the [ninth] season, where we went, 'What do we want to do here? I mean, we're just doing more of the same stuff.''' More important, he recalls, ''Seinfeld'' ''started to pick up heat when they put us on against [ratings giant] 'Home Improvement.''' Sounds like he's got that motivational stuff down pat. -- Mike Flaherty
A Review from The LA Times
Comic Timing Can't Save 'Bob Patterson'
'Seinfeld' alum Jason Alexander now has his own sitcom, but the early results aren't promising.
October 02, 2001|HOWARD ROSENBERG | TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC
Two down, at least one to go.
First came Michael Richards, now Jason Alexander on ABC as the second prominent "Seinfeld" alumnus to star in a comedy far beneath his talent. Yet to weigh in is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose NBC comedy is scheduled for midseason, and Jerry Seinfeld himself, who'd be foolish to resume weekly sitcomdom given the near impossibility of living up to the brilliantly witty act he'd be following.
Still fleeing the Curse of George, Alexander is a famed motivational speaker who's lost his spark in "Bob Patterson," and Robert Klein is his mentor-partner Landau, trying mightily to pull the disconsolate Bob together for a seminar in La Jolla.
The insecure, dysfunctional Bob belies the confident Bob of his seminars and best-selling tapes, and while struggling tonight to overcome motivational speaker's block, he's distracted by the return of his sexy wife, Janet (Jennifer Aspen), and a gorgeous female who delivers water to the office.
Although they have the timing and comic instincts, rarely are Alexander and Klein funny, affirming that even the most gifted actors cannot rise above routine writing, the premiere getting off badly with a cheap Monica Lewinsky joke and a slew of other one-liners that thud like bricks.
The only character here that's amusingly written is Bob's new assistant, Claudia (Chandra Wilson). Her klutziness in a wheelchair is just a hoot both tonight and in a mildly funnier coming episode which finds Bob trying to dump his infomercial co-host, John Tesh, who plays himself--badly--as a sort of doofus. As an actor, he is one.
Not all "Seinfeld" folks have taken post-paradise creative dives. Larry David, the show's co-creator, is perfectly cast as his neurotic self in "Curb Your Enthusiasm," his oft-riotous comedy on HBO. And soon to arrive as lead insect in Fox's superhero spoof, "The Tick," is Patrick Warburton, who played the big palooka who was Elaine's most frequent boyfriend.
As for "Bob Patterson," the motivation to watch just isn't there.
"Bob Patterson" premieres tonight at 9 on ABC. The network has rated it TV-PG-DL (may be unsuitable for young children with special advisories for suggestive dialogue and coarse language).
A Review from Medialife Magazine
Yes, 'Bob Patterson'
is so bad it hurts
Please, a quick, timely death to end viewers' pain
By Elizabeth White
Calling ABC's "Bob Patterson" this year's "Michael Richards Show" gives too much credit to "Bob Patterson."
At least "Michael Richards" didn't seem like a show that should've bombed the season before.
But the jokes on "Bob Patterson" are so stale that they could have been lifted from any failed sitcom of the past two years.
There are jokes about "The Matrix," Monica Lewinsky, the slang phrase "mac daddy," John Tesh and Pat Sajak. Topics too old for Jay Leno and David Letterman to mine comedy from are apparently still okay for a "Seinfeld" alumni's project.
To be fair, some of these jokes are designed to show how uncool Bob Patterson is John Tesh as a guest star leaps to mind but their aggregate just shows how lame "Bob Patterson" is.
A Lewinsky joke? Nobody even forwards that stuff on email any more.
The laugh track seems to be the cruelest joke of all, offering canned guffaws when the audience is most likely wincing.
While the cast members don't have much material to work with, they don't do much to help themselves either. Most of the supporting characters are one-dimensional, one-trick ponies, and the cast desperately mugs for the camera in an effort to somehow make their lines funny.
Bob Patterson's wife (Jennifer Aspen) is a shrill, New-Age mystic who waves her hands around a lot.
His business partner is a single-minded friend whose punch line is to ignore everything not related to money or sex, and his secretary, a wheelchair-bound klutz supposedly satirizing political correctness, just knocks things over and runs into chairs when she doesn't have anything better to do. Which is often.
Jason Alexander is the best of the group, showing that a sitcom about a short, balding motivational speaker and starring a former "Seinfeld" star wasn't such a bad idea on paper. His character is similar to the one he played on "Seinfeld," but more confident and successful, which gives Alexander a larger emotional range to explore.
But "Bob Patterson" is such a bomb that he shouldn't be anything more than depressed, especially considering that Alexander is also an executive producer for the show.
Perhaps ABC knew all of this when it scheduled "Bob Patterson" against "Frasier." The NBC stalwart should so utterly demolish "Bob Patterson" that there will be no lingering death for this rookie, as there was for "Michael Richards."
October 2, 2001
A Review from Teevee.org
Fall '01: "Bob Patterson"
by Jason Snell November 5, 2001
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, you are officially on the clock.
In the sad realm of fall television reviews, watching a review of a show turn into an obituary is one of the saddest sights of all. So it is with this, TeeVee's one and only visit with the show known as Bob Patterson. To steal from Shakespeare, I come to bury Bob Patterson, and most definitely not to praise him.
If you haven't seen Bob Patterson, well, now you'll never get the chance. But let me tell you the tale, so that when you're musing around the water cooler about the abject failure of Seinfeld co-stars to make it on their own, you'll have some ammunition about Jason Alexander's foray into the world of ABC sitcoms.
Featuring the erstwhile George Costanza as the title character, Bob Patterson is -- sorry, was -- the story of a successful motivational speaker who actually struggles with terrible personality and self-esteem problems.
It's not a bad idea for a show, and Jason Alexander's an appropriate person to take a crack at the part. After all, Bob Patterson is only about five steps to the left of George Costanza: more successful, a little more likeable, but still essentially the same sad-sack guy.
At work, Bob's got to deal with the scene-chewing Robert Klein as Landau, his business partner and a character that's about three steps to the right of Rip Torn's Arthur on The Larry Sanders Show. And then there's his bizarre, wheelchair-bound assistant, Claudia (Chandra Wilson), and his dim-bulb intern Vic (Phil Buckman).
But before I bury Bob Patterson, I will damn him with faint praise. The fact is, the show was mildly funny. (Too bad the show's been cancelled -- given ABC's attempt to bolster Bob Patterson's ratings by rolling out Jerry Seinfeld to mock his former co-star in a series of promos, I would otherwise expect to see "Mildly funny!" in a Bob Patterson ad next week.)
The episode I caught made me laugh out loud a handful of times, thanks more to Claudia and Landau than Bob. And -- honesty time again -- I laughed several times at the comedy stylings of guest star John Tesh. Okay, it was more laughing at Tesh than with him, but it was still laughter.
Still, don't let this confuse you into thinking Bob Patterson was a good show. It was mildly funny, yes, but also remarkably shoddy in its construction. The dialogue seems slack, the way it was shot and edited felt somehow amateurish, and a lot of the acting was painfully stilted. It felt more like a college broadcasting seminar final project than a fully-realized network sitcom. But then, that's what a network sitcom star vehicle will get you: a show that otherwise wouldn't eve see the light of day.
So goodbye, Bob. We were hoping you'd be better, given how great Jason Alexander was on Seinfeld. But our wishing didn't help Michael Richards, and it didn't help you. Now all we're left with are sweet memories of George Costanza... and Jason Alexander's outrageously annoying KFC commercials.
Julia-Louis Dreyfus' new series is due in the spring. Let the countdown begin.
To watch clips of Bob Patterson go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bob+patterson+tv+show
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20130406164718/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/bobpatterson.html
For the Official site of Jennifer Aspen go to http://www.jenniferaspen.com/
For some Bob Patterson-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/bob-patterson
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Keywords: Bob Patterson