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The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer aired from October 5-26, 1998 on UPN.
Pfeiffer ( the P was not silent) was the fictional butler in the Lincoln White House of the 1860s in this tasteless bawdy comedy. Lincoln ( Dann Florek) was played as a fool, his wife Mary Todd ( Christine Estabrook) as a horny shrew. A drunken General Grant ( Kelly Connell) lurched about.The only person in the White House with any class was Desmond ( Chi McBride), a black nobleman from England who had fled to the states to avoid paying gambling debts and was working as butler/confidant to the President. His " diary" provided the material for the series. Nibblet ( Max Baker) was Desmond's ineffectual assistant, whom he had won at a county fair. The series seemed totally preoccupied with sex, and most of the jokes were loosely based on problems President Bill Clinton was having at the time over his extramarital dallying. In one episode Lincoln was having "telegraph sex" in the Oval Office ( it turned out his secret lover was Mary) while paying little attention to the war effort. Desmond accused him of acting no better than a hillbilly from Arkansas ( where are you, Mr. Clinton?).
Critics had crucified this series even before its premiere, and living down to the horrible reviews and attracting a minuscule audience, it lasted less then a month on the air.
An Article from The New York Times
In TV, It Can Always Be Worse
By BILL CARTER
Published: August 2, 1998
THIS spring the call went out to the creators of television programs: The networks want something original, something fresh; no more cop shows, lawyer shows, emergency-room shows and sitcoms about the dating dilemmas of New York City twentysomethings.
At this point, the results look disappointing, according to one top programmer, who in an unusually confessional interview assessed the coming television season in blunt terms: ''The quality of the new shows this year is absolutely horrible.''
But how about original? Well, the new season features the first-ever sitcom set in the Lincoln White House and featuring Mary Todd Lincoln grabbing Abe's stovepipe hat, climbing on a table and warbling, ''Happy Birthday, Mr. President,'' with Monroe-like (and I don't mean James) fervor.
Welcome to ''The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer.'' If nothing else, the comedy series, to be unleashed this fall by the mini-network UPN, signals the desperate need for network television to find something that breaks though the bland clutter that many executives say is causing the ever-increasing erosion of their audience. With its producers acknowledging that UPN executives asked them to ''do something outrageous,'' ''Desmond Pfeiffer'' might be seen as what happens a year after an outrageous, dirty-mouthed animated show called ''South Park'' becomes a talked-about hit on a cable channel seen in less than half as many homes as a broadcast network.
Bad Jokes, Worse Taste
That open call for outrageousness led to such ideas as a ''karaoke sitcom,'' in which an audience member would be dropped unrehearsed into the cast of a comedy each week, and ''Catch Me If You Can,'' which was to feature a couple of contestants on the lam around the country and hunted by professional trackers. Neither of those shows made the fall schedules. That leaves ''The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer'' to inject a hearty dose of the outrageous into the new season.
How outrageous is it? In the pilot episode Lincoln downs brandy doctored with an aphrodisiac that leaves him so charged up that he starts rhapsodizing about all those boys going to war with ''big biceps'' and ''washboard stomachs,'' and winds up in a hug with his black aide, declaring, ''It's not right for one man to own another -- respect, care for, vacation together, maybe.''
That aide is Desmond Pfeiffer, a fictional member of the White House kitchen staff, an unlucky emigre from England, where he was a wealthy landowner. (Nobody's going for verisimilitude here.) Desmond's last name, by the way, is pronounced with the P, as in ''Puh-feiffer.''
Not everybody is fictional: General Ulysses S. Grant is around, drinking in all of his scenes and forgetting which color uniform his troops wear. And Mary Todd Lincoln is featured throughout. First, she's upset because Abe has hired a new secretary, Mona, with an especially low-cut bodice. (Abe does growl like a wolf at the prospect of Mona taking dictation.) Mary calls Mona a foul name through a pretend cough.
Later Mrs. Lincoln laments that she and Abe haven't had much of a love life since that war started and, from her bubble bath, she makes a play for Desmond.
Desmond puts her off at one point by sending her downstairs with the message: ''Francis Scott Key left a bag of taffy for you in the Green Room.'' So he would have been dead for 20 years at that point in history, how's Mrs. L. supposed to know that?
Thankfully, Abe gets enough of the love potion to the point that Mrs. Lincoln exults to Desmond, ''The Old Rail Splitter is back!''
Spell That Satire
According to Barry Fanaro, one of the show's creators, this is not meant to be a conventional sitcom and certainly not a history lesson. Instead, its goal is contemporary political satire.
''We're not making as much fun of Lincoln as we are of Clinton,'' Mr. Fanaro said. ''Lincoln is going through the same scrutiny that a President goes through now. And we're able to make fun of politics today. We'll also make references to other Presidents.''
Nothing else comes close to ''Desmond Pfeiffer,'' despite the crying need, as Peter Roth, the president of entertainment for the Fox Network, put it, for programs that are ''different and distinctive.''
But is this the definition of ''different and distinctive'' programming that viewers really want?
Chi McBride, who stars as Desmond, said: ''Everybody's not going to like everything. I wouldn't have liked being in the pitch meeting for 'Hogan's Heroes.' 'See, some Nazi concentration camp. And it's funny!' ''
F.Y.I.: ''Hogan's Heroes'' ran for six years.
A Review from Variety
The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer
((SITCOM; UPN, MON., OCT. 5, 9 P.M.))
By RAY RICHMOND
Powered By Filmed in Los Angeles by Paramount Network TV. Executive producers, Mort Nathan, Barry Fanaro; producer, Marica Govons; director, Matthew Diamond; writers, Nathan, Fanaro; production coordinator, KathArine Rager.
Desmond Pfeiffer.....Chi McBride
Abraham Lincoln.....Dann Florek
Mary Todd Lincoln.....Christine Estabrook
Ulysses S. Grant.....Kelly Connell
It is rare that primetime auds are treated with quite as much disdain as is apparent in this shamefully misguided UPN farce of a half-hour that curiously attempts to draw lascivious parallels between the libidinal Clinton administration and that of Abe Lincoln. Boy golly, that Civil War. What a fertile breeding ground for bawdy satire, huh?
Set in the Lincoln White House, if not quite the Lincoln bedroom, "Desmond Pfeiffer" stars the generally charismatic Chi McBride as the Desmond of the title. He's an exiled black English chap who becomes a trusted confidante to Abe (Dann Florek)) and an unwitting object of passion for the eternally horny, emotionally unstable First Lady Mary Todd (Christine Estabrook). Desmond keeps a journal of everything he sees, which is evidently considerable.
Rounding out this motley White House crew is a bumbling manservant named Nibblet (Max Baker), a raging alcoholic version of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (Kelly Connell) and a buxom, appropriately dense blonde secretary named Mona (Cindy Ambuehl) who exists to be leered at.
Exec producers/writers Mort Nathan and Barry Fanaro, who lent their comedic talents to "The Golden Girls," misfire on all cylinders in a repugnant opening teleplay that features lines like, "The president is having sex with someone who works at the White House? Preposterous!" And then there's this gem: "I'm afraid the fire's gone out of the old Lincoln log."
The grossness, classlessness and leering of this bizarre period piece continue unabated into episode two, where President Lincoln has online sex (in this case over a telegraph!) and Mary Todd is shown to be a 1990s sort of gal.
What test audience assured UPN that it would be wise to bestow a series order onto this? The best one can say for "Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer" is that it represents a radical departure from the single dad/clueless grownups sitcom trends of fall '98. And the theme music from Scott Gale and Rich Eames as well as the opening visuals sparkle.
Show has the gall to open with a quote from Civil War historian Shelby Foote, with a narrator then intoning in "Start the Revolution Without Me" style, "Everything that follows actually happened. You can't prove that it didn't." One can only hope that before long, it will be difficult to prove this sitcom ever happened.
A Review from The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEW; Daring Lincoln To Spin In His Grave
By CARYN JAMES
Published: October 5, 1998
Art and entertainment can satirize any forbidden subject if the treatment is witty and thoughtful enough; that's what satire is. But let's not confuse ''The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer'' with art, entertainment or satire. This is a jaw-droppingly witless series about an aristocratic black Englishman who flees from his gambling debts and finds work at the White House as Abe Lincoln's butler.
Meant to be a parody of the Clinton White House, the series has stumbled into notoriety for another reason. The pilot episode drew protests from black groups charging that it treated slavery as a joke. As a result UPN has substituted a different episode for tonight's premiere.
Now Lincoln has telegraph sex with an unknown woman. Now Desmond tells the President, ''If I may be so bold, sir, you're acting no better than a horny hillbilly from Arkansas.''
Is ''Desmond Pfeiffer'' insensitive? Of course it is, though not because it dares to take race or presidential sex as its subjects. It is offensive because it treats them in such a clumsy, name-calling way. ''Desmond Pfeiffer'' is likely to drive away blacks, whites, presidents, historians and especially people with a sense of humor.
Does it treat slavery as a joke? Glancingly in the scuttled pilot. The approach is not malicious, but its careless attitude seems only marginally better than outright bigotry. That original episode (which UPN says it is reviewing and may reschedule) explains the current flap better than tonight's.
''The slaves haven't been emancipated yet; get your feet off the table,'' an officious white White House staffer tells Desmond. The joke is that Desmond is superior to this buffoon in every way. Desmond, who has never been a slave, is by far the smartest man in the White House.
The true idiots are white, including Desmond's personal lackey, Nibblet, whom he describes as ''my trusted manservant and part-time footrest.'' Nibblet literally cannot tell his right from his left and repeatedly puts his hand on a hot stove.
In what may be the only flash of genuine satire in the original pilot, Desmond briefly tries to assume a slavish attitude and language as a ruse. The words ''I just love my massa so'' come out with his typical well-bred English accent and supercilious air. But ''Desmond Pfeiffer'' cannot be defended as a satire attacking slavery; that would require a level of sophistication this muddled series never approaches.
Instead, both episodes rely on jokes so cheap and hoary they seem positively vaudevillian. Nibblet's feet smell like cheese! The series is fond of weak double-entendres. And a mean-spirited running gag involves the sexually frustrated, plump Mary Lincoln, frequently seen in her bubble bath, raising her arms to reveal major underarm hair growth.
The contemporary parallels are ham-fisted. In tonight's episode, when Desmond discovers the President telegraphing lewd messages, he says, ''You don't have to explain, sir, this isn't a grand jury.''
Lincoln later wonders: ''Can you imagine what would happen if the President were found in a compromising position? What would I do, apologize to the whole nation?''
Television viewers are always hoping for something different. ''Desmond Pfeiffer'' (pronounced Puh-feiffer in another inane attempt at comedy) gives new meaning to the warning ''Be careful what you ask for.''
In fact, the UPN schedule is loaded with oddball new series. ''Mercy Point'' (tomorrow at 9) means to be ''E.R.'' meets ''Star Trek,'' but this drama about a hospital in space is not even entertaining in a goofy, campy way. ''Legacy'' (Friday at 8) is a post-Civil War soap opera about the lives and lusts of an Irish horse-breeding family in Kentucky. At least it has lavish photography. The horses look sleek, the grass looks emerald and the people all look like models, though no one has anything interesting to say. Like ''Desmond Pfeiffer,'' these other UPN series smack of a frantic bid for attention. They merely highlight the difference between desperation and true invention.
THE SECRET DIARY OF DESMOND PFEIFFER
UPN, tonight at 9
(Channel 9 in New York)
Mort Nathan and Barry Fanaro, executive producers and creators; Marica Govons, producer. A production of Paramount Network Television.
WITH: Chi McBride (Desmond Pfeiffer), Dann Florek (Abraham Lincoln), Max Baker (Nibblet), Christine Estabrook (Mary Todd Lincoln).
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer
By Ken Tucker
Several black activist organizations have protested the airing of The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer (UPN, Mondays 9-9:30 p.m.) enough so that UPN is pulling the pilot to consider those complaints. The groups decry the sitcom, about a black British nobleman who is Abraham Lincoln's valet, as demeaning to blacks as well as for making jokes about slavery. In fact, Pfeiffer, as played by Chi McBride, speaks more articulately than any other character on the show, always behaves more maturely and intelligently than anyone else around him, and is himself waited upon by what one script calls ''his white inbred manservant'' (played with skin-crawlingly convincing cretinousness by Max Baker).
Which is not to say that Desmond is not in poor taste (which, in fact, is astounding even by the current standards of Zippergate). Its Lincoln, played by Law & Order's Dann Florek, is a priapic fool who in the first two episodes lusts equally after women and men, divulges a foot fetish, and in what is now the premiere, engages in ''telegraph sex,'' a sort of Civil War version of our online kind. ''The executive branch'' is deployed as a euphemism for the President's penis, and Desmond says in disgust, ''You're acting no better than a horny hillbilly from Arkansas.''
The organizing jokes of the series involve not race, but sex and politics; Lincoln equals Bill Clinton, a sure sign the show's writers don't expect to be around more than a season, tops. As such, the series has a sort of exhilaratingly go-for-broke atmosphere. In traducing the presidency and treating everyone excluding Pfeiffer as an amoral boob (Gen. Ulysses S. Grant is a swozzled egomaniac sending troops off to be slaughtered; Thomas Jefferson is cited only as a sleazy dope farmer), it is far more offensive than South Park. But it is also far funnier in its raucous slapstick. Coarsely energetic, there is something almost Rabelaisian about the vulgarity of Desmond Pfeiffer. It is doing for TV what Howard Stern could only boast he would do. B-
A Review from The SF Chronicle
Running out of synonyms for "bad'
"Pfeiffer' comedy could cause an epidemic of unprintable language
Monday, October 5, 1998
There's a misguided belief that somehow critics find it easier to write negative rather than positive reviews. That the sheer weight of their disgust and disappointment, fury and bitterness will somehow produce words that float out effortlessly.
Those people haven't had to sit through three UPN sitcoms.
Make that four. Because UPN has pulled what was supposed to be the pilot for its alleged comedy, "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer" (9 p.m. Monday, Ch. 44), thus forcing TV critics across the country to do what they surely wouldn't have - watch the second episode, another 22 minutes of what has to be a contender for worst sitcom since (gasp!) last season.
By the way, the "P" in Pfeiffer is not silent. And that's one of the "jokes" of the series. Go ahead, pull yourself up off the floor.
Here's what watching these shows makes you want to do: Drive insanely down to Los Angeles, scan the phone book frantically, then drive over to the houses of all the writers and personally drag them outside and punish them. That's one urge. The other is to fly down there to speed the whole process ups.
Maybe it's the fact that we're coming to the end of the fall rollout, that 26 of the 36 new shows have already been reviewed and there just isn't another way to creatively say "lame." Maybe the end result of seeing "The Army Show" and "The Brian Benben Show" and "The Secret Lives of Men" is to create the world's shortest critical fuse, and, through no fault of its own, UPN just happens to be next on the list with yet another show about a motherless child, yet another show about a blue-collar fat guy and, well, the first and hopefully last show about an idiotic Abraham Lincoln, his black butler and a very horny Mary Todd Lincoln.
Maybe, just by coincidence, all those things came tragically together to distort rational judgment and send a certain someone to anger management class.
But probably not. All three of these shows are bad, and it is taking enormous concentration - interest, even - to want to write about them. Because in some small way that dignifies them, alerts people to their existence when no one should ever have to see them. And it's flat-out no fun.
Of course, it gets you thinking about Dante's
"Inferno," and maybe that's not such a bad thing. Great piece of work, no question about it. You know how there were all those levels of pain, each greater than the next? Maybe if we apply that blueprint to these UPN sitcoms, we can come up with something positive to say.
Yeah - like "DiResta" (8:30 p.m. Monday, Ch. 44) isn't as good as its near-clone, "King of Queens," on CBS, but it's a lot better than "Guys Like Us," and flat-out brilliant in comparison to "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer."
Considered in that context, there's no need to be overly harsh. Yes, it's dreadful and unfunny, but its failure is no greater than the hordes of other blue-collar-guys- watching-big-screen-TVs-and- battling-the-wife shows that have preceded it.
It feels good to be nice.
And "Guys Like Us" (8 p.m. Monday, Ch. 4) - maybe we could just say that it's less awful than its near-clone,
"My Brother's Keeper," on ABC. Or that Chris Hardwick, who became famous on MTV, is so much more polished and likable in comparison with John Sencio of "The Army Show," who also came over from MTV to prove beyond a doubt that being a talentless, mugging boob is no detriment when it comes to introducing Marilyn Manson videos.
See, mothers and school teachers across the country would be proud: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Or at least find something almost nice to say.
Oh, forget it. No more Dante games. No more reverse psychology. No more trying to avoid the fact that these shows are just - here it comes - lame. This should be proof to you that saying bad things about bad shows is not easy.
If you must know, here are the skeletal details: "Guys Like Us" stars Hardwick and Bumper Robinson as two single guys getting along swell until 6-year-old Maestro Harrell, playing Robinson's brother, moves in. He's cute, the show is not funny. End of story.
"DiResta" stars former real-life transit cop John DiResta as a current TV make-believe transit cop and family man. He's likable but not memorable, the show is neither funny nor touching nor entertaining. Sad but true.
"The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer" can't be dismissed so quickly. It really is about a sexually confused Abe Lincoln, his British butler (perhaps that's an easy way for the producers to get around the word slave), his dim-witted British "manservant" and a randy Mary Todd Lincoln. The producers say it's a spoof of the Clinton White House. Some African Americans say it's racially insensitive. Here's what it is mostly: pathetic.
Preposterously bad jokes pile on top of each other as this unimaginably bad premise manages to be even worse than expected. The surprise here is that through the muck you can tell that Chi McBride, as Desmond, has a load of talent. Unfortunately for him, he's in a load of rubbish.
This is what UPN said about pulling the pilot: "UPN respects and appreciates all our viewers, and we especially wish to respond to feedback from our loyal African American audience."
Great. But pulling the pilot changes nothing. The second episode is equally bad. UPN needs to pull the whole series and apologize to Americans of all races for thinking we'd be stupid enough to watch it.
An Article from the Washington Post
UPN's 'Desmond Pfeiffer':
A Bad Idea Gone Wrong
By Esther Iverem
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 6, 1998
That is the only question that skeptical viewers will ask after last night's premiere of UPN's controversial and asinine new sitcom, "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer."
Of all the history-based story lines that could have been used to create a sitcom – Betsy Ross modeled after Ally McBeal, "Those Crazy Robber Barons" or "Life in the Soup Line" – UPN decided to touch on slavery, the Civil War and the supposed sexual adventures of Abraham Lincoln.
That decision alone, setting the show in a Lincoln White House served by a black "butler," drew the ire of thousands across the country, including those who marched recently on the network's Hollywood headquarters. Accusing UPN of racism, the protesters declared that the network would not have so cavalierly created comedic material from the Depression, the Holocaust or the Bosnian conflict. In response, UPN executives pulled the episode originally scheduled for the program's debut, saying it would be reviewed. They did not, however postpone the premiere, instead broadcasting the second episode.
The program dismisses the brutal enslavement of Africans with buffoonery and a handy laugh track. Its premise, more than its content, is what is offensive. On its face, the premiere of "Desmond Pfeiffer" was not so much racist as it was stupid.
Pfeiffer, the butler, played by Chi McBride, is actually supposed to be an English nobleman who has been forced into servitude. To compensate for his debased position, the writers make his white sidekick, Nibblet (Max Baker) a hapless, dimwitted "evolutionary cul-de-sac." The show also offers a weak ebony-ivory buddy story pairing Pfeiffer and Honest Abe (Dann Florek), who is depicted as a sexually frustrated man engaging in "telegraph sex."
Using the White House as a prop, the show goes for even cheaper laughs with frequent references to the current sex-perjury scandal. Pfeiffer tells the president, "You're acting no better than a horny hillbilly from Arkansas." It's about as funny as getting your teeth cleaned.
Every television show these days must give viewers a reason to keep tuning in. This one doesn't. It just makes you ask "Why?"
An Article from The New York Times
TV NOTES; White House Farce
By LAWRIE MIFFLIN
Published: October 7, 1998
A group that included the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson gathered as planned on Monday for a protest rally urging the cancellation of UPN's new sitcom ''The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer,'' but the more effective protest was a silent one. Viewers stayed away in droves.
The comedy, a farce set in the Lincoln White House and centering on an aristocratic black Englishman who has mistakenly become Abraham Lincoln's butler, made its debut on Monday night at 9. But it drew only 2.06 million viewers, with a Nielsen rating of 1.6 (each rating point represents 994,000 homes).
At 7 that morning, Mr. Jackson (who was in Los Angeles to attend the funeral of that city's former Mayor, Tom Bradley, later that day) and about 200 others gathered outside Paramount Studios to complain that ''Desmond Pfeiffer'' made light of slavery.
UPN's president, Dean Valentine, has said that the show has nothing to do with slavery other than being set in the Civil War period. He also has said that the protesters will not determine the show's fate.
''If the American public tells us they hate the show,'' Mr. Valentine said, ''it'll come off, just like any other network show.''
An Article from Time Magazine
Dumb and Dumber
Monday, Oct. 12, 1998
By JACK E. WHITE
The people responsible for The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer--a moronic sitcom scheduled to make its debut on UPN this week unless the network experiences a late and totally unprecedented attack of good taste, common sense and plain old decency--describe it as a "high concept" period comedy. That must mean they were smoking some dynamite stuff when they dreamed it up.
No one, not even in Hollywood, would have ventured out with a show based on the preposterous premise that during the Civil War, an English nobleman of Moorish descent somehow winds up in America, where he maneuvers himself into a position on Abraham Lincoln's kitchen staff, unless he or she were intoxicated. Once they sobered up and checked out the pilot episode--a heavy-handed, totally unfunny spoof of the current White House scandal--they would have asked themselves, "What were we thinking?" and pulled the plug on the series out of sheer embarrassment.
As if some black folks needed another reason to conclude that when it comes to race, some white folks still just don't get it. After a tape of the Pfeiffer pilot got out, it set off yet another overheated racial contretemps in Los Angeles. Like actors following the script of a bad sitcom about political correctness, a coalition of black organizations and politicians pulled out the rhetorical artillery to try to force UPN to cancel Pfeiffer (the P, as what passes for witty dialogue on the show constantly reminds us, isn't silent) before it ever airs. "The show trivializes the suffering and pain of African-American people during the period of slavery. It distorts and exploits history and desecrates the bones of our ancestors!" thundered Danny Bakewell, president of the Brotherhood Crusade, a black activist group. Last week he led pickets outside the Paramount studios, where Pfeiffer is shot. "They wouldn't do anything comedic about the Jewish Holocaust, and rightfully so," said Bakewell. The Los Angeles city council unanimously passed a motion introduced by a black member, Mark Ridley-Thomas, requiring a community screening of the pilot and directing the city's human relation commission to report back within 10 days on whether the show is appropriate for broadcast.
Those actions gave UPN president Dean Valentine a pretext for wrapping himself in the banner of artistic freedom, as any savvy television executive would do if one of his shows came under fire. "If I was a creative person in Hollywood, I would be packing up my bags and heading for Nevada," Valentine declared. "In a city that has a host of social problems, including crime and poverty, potholes and a broken-down transit system, one would think the vast power of the city council could be put to better use than analyzing UPN's Monday-night schedule." Still, in an attempt to defuse the flap, the network yanked the pilot and substituted an episode titled "Abe Online," which depicts the Great Emancipator (played by Dann Florek) carrying on an illicit romance via the telegraph.
Pfeiffer's creators, Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan, who once wrote for The Golden Girls and who are white, claimed that making light of slavery was the furthest thing from their mind. "We thought there was a way to do an over-the-top satire about the Clinton White House by disguising it as the Lincoln White House," Fanaro explains. "We came up with the idea that there is this English nobleman, and we would show everything through his eyes. Then we thought, 'What if it was a black guy who was an English nobleman, a well-spoken, well-educated man who has his own manservant?'" Don't tell me Fanaro and his partner weren't on something when they conjured up these ideas.
Having now gone way beyond the call of journalistic duty by suffering through tapes of two episodes of Pfeiffer, I think both sides are missing the point. It's a lousy show, but it's too trivial to justify all the umbrage Bakewell and his allies are heaping on it. Although watching it may be an assault on human dignity, Pfeiffer is not about slavery. That subject doesn't even come up except in a couple of lame one-liners. It's more about sex, or at least juvenile double entendres about sex, and potty humor. But the central character--unlike those on the old series Martin on Fox, Def Comedy Jam on HBO and many of the other so-called urban-oriented programs that have drawn large African-American audiences in recent years--is no buffoon. In fact, as played by portly Chi McBride, he's the smartest character on the show.
On the other hand, the decision to air this nonsense reflects a considerable insensitivity on UPN's part. Pfeiffer is ridiculous, even by sitcom standards. The network has enjoyed so much success in attracting black viewers (who last season made up 45% of its prime-time audience) that it may have deluded itself into thinking that African Americans will tolerate whatever it deigns to throw at them, regardless of the quality. There's a good way for black viewers and everyone else to disabuse them of that patronizing notion: emancipate themselves from the TV set the moment Pfeiffer comes on.
To see some clips of The Secret Life Of Desmond Pfeiffer go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=secret+life+of+desmond+pfeiffer
For more on The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_Diary_of_Desmond_Pfeiffer
To read an article on The Secret Life Of Desmond Pfeiffer go to http://www.vulture.com/2013/02/the-secret-diary-of-desmond-pfeiffer-historically-awful.html
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