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Knights of Prosperity aired from January until March 2007 on ABC.
When New York janitor Eugene Gurkin ( Donal Logue) saw an old fellow janitor keel over while mopping a urinal, he decided he didn't want to die that way. With no money and no education his options were limited, so he got together a bunch of fellow blue-collar misfits and hatched a plan-" Let's rob Mick Jagger!" Jagger's opulent Central Park West apartment had recently been featured on TV and looked like easy pickings, or so this bunch of bumbling idiots thought. Squatch ( Lenny Venito) was Eugene's janitor pal who wanted a better life for his wife and kids, Butts ( Kevin Michael Richardson) was a hefty black security guard with a booming baritone voice, Gary ( Maz Jobrani) a wisecracking Indian cabdriver and Esperanza ( Sofia Vergara) a Latin spitfire waitress who could flash a little booty to get what they wanted. An accidental recruit was Louis ( Josh Grisetti), a clueless college nerd who thought he was interning on a movie but got drawn into their sceme. Despite their comic ineptitude over the course of several episodes they managed to case Jagger's building , copy his apartment keys and get past security, but ultimately were not able to steal anything. So next they decided to rob Kelly Ripa, then switched to Ray Romano( each of whom made cameo appearances), before Knights was abruptly pulled from the schedule.
A Review from Variety
The Knights of Prosperity
(Series -- ABC, Wed. Jan. 3, 9 p.m.)
By BRIAN LOWRY
Filmed in New York by B&B Prods. and Worldwide Pants in association with Touchstone Television. Executive producers, Rob Burnett, Jon Beckerman, David Letterman, Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman; co-executive producers, Merrill Karpf, Steve Tompkins, Eric Horsted; producers, Logue, Perri Kipperman, Michael Stricks; director, Burnett; writers, Burnett, Beckerman.
Eugene Gurkin - Donal Logue
Esperanza Villalobos - Sofia Vergara
Francis "Squatch" Sqaucieri - Lenny Venito
Gourishankar "Gary" Subramaniam - Maz Jobrani
Rockefeller Butts - Kevin Michael Richardson
Louis Plunk - Josh Grisetti
Somehow, this silly, mildly amusing half-hour seemed better before the title change, when the show wore its premise -- "Let's Rob ... Mick Jagger" -- on its sleeve. Built around an endearingly ragtag group of misfits, this concoction from "Late Show With David Letterman" producers Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman has its moments in a "Honeymooners" sort of way but, especially after viewing the second episode, feels destined to run out of gas long before its central sextet gets any satisfaction.
Donal Logue stars as Eugene Gurkin (there's clear symbolism in that surname), a night janitor who, after a minor epiphany, decides it's time to pursue his dreams. Unfortunately, the bank isn't eager to loan him cash for the bar he yearns to open, so after seeing Jagger's palatial money-for-nothin' digs on E! News, he hatches a not-so-brilliant scheme: "I've got an idea that can change both our lives forever," Eugene tells his co-worker Francis (Lenny Venito).Eugene quickly goes about the process of assembling his team, which has a kind of slovenly Justice League quality, down to the recurring slow-motion shots (one of the show's best devices) as they strut purposefully side by side in matching T-shirts.
The gang includes an Indian cab driver they call "Gary" (Maz Jobrani) because no one can pronounce "Gourishankar;" a barrel-shaped, baritone-voiced security guard Rockefeller Butts (Kevin Michael Richardson); a Latin American waitress, Esperanza (Sofia Vergara, back from ABC's "Hot Properties," putting her Jessica Rabbit shape to good comedic use); and a nerdy intern (Louis Plunk).
Code name: the Knights of Prosperity, a pale imitation of the original title as well as a proposed moniker that's rejected, the Jedi Council.
Each week will bring a new hurdle in the ongoing pursuit of Jagger's booty, the first task being to nab a duplicate key to his apartment. Alas, the rock star's presence will be minuscule after his good-spirited premiere cameo, meaning the onus lies on this dingy half-dozen, with Richardson's gravely rumblings providing the one sure-fire source of amusement.
When Rockefeller dubs the group "Ocean's Idiots," he's pretty well summarized the show, with Logue's ringmaster Eugene as a Ralph Kramden type, a blue-collar dreamer without the brains or connections to realize his grand plans.
In success, theoretically, the show would target different celebrities in seasons to come, but that's getting ahead of the game -- especially with a challenge from "American Idol" looming a few weeks off. The semi-serialized format also makes it hard to get too excited about the prospective payoff, which might be an amusing premise for a low-budget feature but, as ABC has discovered with "Big Day," presents a tall order in stretching a caper over 20-plus episodes.
So while it's hard not to harbor some sympathy for these poor schmoes, ABC will likely need considerable patience in affording these hapless "Knights" time to find their holy grail.
A Review from The New York Times
Male Misery Just Loves Female Company
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: January 3, 2007
Time magazine shocked America by asking Is God Dead? on its cover in 1966. Vanity Fair is now needling the nation with Christopher Hitchens's essay Why Women Aren't Funny.
It could also be that most men are not so funny, either, and women are just better at flattery and fake laughter.
In real life, which is to say, on television, there are beautiful women, funny women and also beautiful women cast in comic roles. 30 Rock, on NBC, has two: Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski. CBS's New Adventures of Old Christine won Julia Louis-Dreyfus an Emmy Award last year.
ABC is even more in touch with its feminine side: Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty are packed with romance and tightly tailored to female audiences. But tonight that network is introducing two comedies that are oriented toward men.
The Knights of Prosperity and In Case of Emergency have similar conceits: each revolves around a group of pitiable male losers and one very pretty woman who puts up with them. NBC already has that dynamic on My Name Is Earl ; the two hapless heroes are abetted and cheerfully endured by Catalina (Nadine Velazquez), a sexy, soft-hearted Mexican immigrant who works as a motel maid.
It's one of those trends that is not new, just borrowed in their Road to movies, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope never went anywhere without Dorothy Lamour.
Perfect women are neither much fun nor intentionally funny, which is why the dumb blonde has proved such an enduring pillar of comedy: beautiful women require a leveling weakness to be tolerable. Stupid women are more accessible and also less likely to judge men too harshly. That quid pro quo is so ingrained that it is the entire premise of Beauty and the Geek, a CW reality show that pairs pretty, dimwitted women with brainy, socially inept men, and begins its third season tonight.
But sitcoms are now trying out less misogynist handicaps, from immigration status to bad luck. The male misfits of The Knights of Prosperity also enjoy the company of a Latin bombshell, Esperanza Villalobos (Sofia Vergara). Esperanza, like Catalina on Earl, is not a citizen and has a slight language barrier. (Both are fluent in English but mispronounce words in the manner of Charo.) Those impediments, however minor, keep success beyond their reach and force these beauties to cast their lot with potbellied idiots and social outcasts.
On In Case of Emergency, a trio of 30-something high school friends whose lives take a sudden dip for the worse reconnect with another former classmate, Kelly Lee (Kelly Hu), a stunning Korean-American who was class valedictorian, but is working in a massage parlor. The first two episodes do not spell out Kelly's fall from grace, but do hint at troubles with men and self-esteem.
Knights of Prosperity has the worse title but is the funnier of the two shows. Eugene Gurkin (Donal Logue), a janitor in Queens, talks his buddies into robbing Mick Jagger's apartment. They form a club, the Knights of Prosperity, to plan their heist. (The show was originally titled Let's Rob Mick Jagger, but Mr. Jagger, who makes a very funny cameo in the first episode, apparently did not care to have his name emblazoned on a sitcom indefinitely.)
Eugene has his epiphany watching Mr. Jagger give a tour of his vast apartment on Central Park West on an entertainment show. The rock star is particularly proud of his media room and his indoor swimming pool. It's a great pool, or so I'm told, he tells the camera as he tosses a ball into the water. Actually I hate getting wet myself, but the dogs love it.
Eugene's crew includes a fellow janitor, a burly warehouse security guard and Gourishankar (Maz Jobrani), an Indian cab driver who wants to know why it must be Mick Jagger. I don't get it, he exclaims. Why not some other celebrity like Alex Trebek or Willem Dafoe?
Naturally, the worst-laid plans go awry, and their plot becomes bigger and more harebrained with every episode. The break-in may never take place, but the characters are appealing, and the writing is spirited enough to carry the sitcom at least for a while.
In Case of Emergency is uneven, more antic than witty. Greg Germann, who played Richard Fish on Ally McBeal, is amusing as Sherman, a diet guru who hijacks a pastry truck and goes on a binging frenzy that lands him in jail. Jason (David Arquette) is an investment whiz who turns suicidal when his company collapses in scandal. They are best friends with Harry (Jonathan Silverman), an unhappily divorced greeting-card writer. It is Harry who recognizes his old high school crush Kelly as she prepares to give him an adult-rated massage. He persuades her to try to start a new life and let him be her friend.
Luckily for him, Kelly has nowhere better to go.
THE KNIGHTS OF PROSPERITY
ABC, tonight at 9, Eastern and Pacific times; 8, Central time.
Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman, co-creators and executive producers; David Letterman, Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman, executive producers; Merrill Karpf, Steve Tompkins and Eric Horsted, co-executive producers. A production of Touchstone Television.
WITH: Eugene Gurkin (Donal Logue), Softa Vergara (Esperanza Villalobos), Maz Jobrani (Gourishankar Gary Subramaniam), Lenny Venito (Francis, or Squatch, Squacieri), Kevin Michael Richardson (Rockefeller Butts), Josh Grisetti (Louis Plunk).
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
ABC, tonight at 9:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 8:30, Central time.
Howard J. Morris, creator and executive producer; Emile Levisetti, executive producer.
With: David Arquette (Jason Ventress), Jonathan Silverman (Harry Kennison), Greg Germann (Sherman Yablonsky), Kelly Hu (Kelly Lee), Lori Loughlin (Dr. Joanna), Jackson Bond (Dylan) and Eric Kan (Patient).
A Review from USA TODAY
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
You can't blame a sitcom for the company it keeps.
Yet most likely, bad companions will be The Knights of Prosperity's undoing. A sweetly offbeat salute to oddball crooks, Knights is being asked to prosper on a network that seems incapable of protecting it or pairing it up. The few ABC sitcoms that were any good over the past few years were out of step with public tastes and are long gone. And the vast majority were awful, as witnessed by the flat-out loser premiering tonight with Knights, In Case of Emergency.
Worse luck still, Knights is another ABC attempt to launch a serialized sitcom, a particularly unpopular subset of a troubled genre. Having folded Big Day's day-long wedding tent, ABC now expects viewers to commit to a set of inept crooks as they attempt to rob the plush penthouse of Mick Jagger.
How many viewers are going to trust Knights to pull off that caper when they never found out why the wife vanished on Vanished, why the kid was kidnapped on Kidnapped or why the day kept breaking on Day Break?
Still, Knights is worth the leap of faith, in large part because the robbery is only one part of this good-natured tribute to the appeal of the American dream, the get-rich-quick variety. Unlike the glum Smith, Heist and Thief, the show immediately sets out to establish that its Keystone crooks are, if not deserving, as least not undeserving and that they pose no real risk to Jagger's wealth and health. ("Certainly he will not miss a few crumbs from his table of much plentifulness.")
Knights is brought to you by the folks behind Ed, who bring with them Ed's gentle sensibility and knack for clever casting. Start with appealing everyman Donal Logue as Eugene Gurkin, a janitor with an unconventional life-improvement plan. But really, each of the Knights is a sitcom hero: Esperanza (Sofia Vergara), the gorgeous ex-girlfriend of a Colombian mobster; "Squatch" Squacieri (Lenny Venito), Eugene's janitorial co-worker; Gourishankar, aka "Gary" (Maz Jobrani), an Indian cabdriver; Rockefeller (Kevin Michael Richardson), a security guard with a voice like Barry White; and Louis (Josh Grisetti), a fussy, virginal college student.
As in many filmed comedies, at times Knights seems content to substitute movement and scenery for comedy, but the brighter moments compensate for those times when the show goes slack. The concern is whether the concept can sustain a series and whether the series can build on its propitious beginning.
No such long-term concerns with In Case of Emergency. It flops right from the get-go. Indeed, if the TV gods are kind, we will never again be subjected to a "meet cute" as repulsive as the one Emergency uses for its opening scene: Harry (Jonathan Silverman) becomes reacquainted with high school dream girl Kelly Lee (Kelly Hu) at a massage parlor as she's giving him sexual release.
Life has not been kind to Harry and Kelly, and it's about to turn on two other classmates. Just-dumped diet guru Sherman (Greg Germann) goes on a televised eating spree, which includes hijacking a pastry delivery truck. And then there's Jason (David Arquette), a scandal-plagued accountant whose plans to kill himself go awry.
The reason behind this unconvincing convergence of events will be obvious to any viewer. It's so all four losers can be tied together into one big loser clump. It's kind of like Friends if every character had been outlandishly contrived, every situation had been stripped of every humorous moment, and every attempt at sentiment had felt cheap and unearned.
What do you do in case of that kind of emergency? Run.
A Review from The LA Times
Building up their teams
`Knights' gives slackers purpose. `Emergency' is big on slapstick. Both use ironic Jewish tees.
January 03, 2007|Paul Brownfield | Times Staff Writer
In the feature-like premise of "The Knights of Prosperity," a new single-camera sitcom debuting on ABC tonight, a janitor forms a misfit posse for the purpose of robbing the posh Manhattan crib of Mick Jagger.
Eugene Gurkin (Donal Logue) is the slacker posse leader, and the robbing of Jagger is like Earl Hickey's list on NBC's "My Name Is Earl" -- a bright idea following an epiphany that comes to him through the TV.
On "Earl" it was Carson Daly talking about karma, which led a slacker and petty thief to reform himself to do good deeds; here it's Jagger showing off his house on E! Entertainment Television, which inspires the other way, turning a job-holding slacker to organized crime.
The comedic GPS on "The Knights of Prosperity" is programmed to harken us back, at warp speed, to great moments in ironic movie team-building -- John Belushi's "When the going gets tough" speech in "Animal House," Bill Murray's pep talks in "Meatballs" and "Stripes."
It's an evergreen, I will allow, even if creators Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman ("Late Show With David Letterman" producers who previously did the series "Ed") rather rush you to the kitsch. It was their style on "Ed" to be too cutesy by half, and so here: The "Knights" hold their clandestine meetings in a warehouse of Jewish supplies, which quickly has them donning T-shirts with phrases such as "I'm with Meshugganah" and "Kiss Me, I'm a Mensch" as the operation kicks into higher gear in the second episode.
The T-shirt wearers are prize recruits in the category of highly lovable goofballs: a cabdriver (Maz Jobrani) who was a lawyer in India; Eugene's janitor friend Squatch (Lenny Venito) and security guard Rockefeller Butts (Kevin Michael Richardson, called on to purr his punch lines in a Barry White baritone).
Their ranks quickly swell to include a nerdy intern (Josh Grisetti) and a Latin bombshell (Sofia Vergara); by then, in addition to T-shirts, the Knights have their own theme song from Paul Shaffer (David Letterman's among the show's executive producers) and a show logo with retro font, if not enough players to form a Central Park softball league team.
"The Knights of Prosperity" once had the catchier title of "Let's Rob ... Mick Jagger." The Rolling Stones icon is onboard here, sending up his idle wealth winningly; he's a natural at self-caricature, but he's such a dogged entertainer, touring and touring, that I came to wish the series had picked a different target, someone who truly seems to live a celebrity life so blessed you'd rather just watch cash fall on their head (David Spade comes to mind, or ABC's own Jim Belushi or Ryan Seacrest).
"Let's Rob ... Jim Belushi (if not Seacrest)" has a much more comprehensible, Robin Hood feel to it -- a palpable and needed anger at the spoils of certain showbiz success. Whether they know it, Burnett and Beckerman have come up with a catchphrase, "Let's rob ... ," that has a certain metaphorical resonance about our runaway celebrity culture; you could see it becoming the next "Jump the shark."
The "Knights" gang briefly considers robbing Fran Drescher instead ("She's got that 'Nanny' money," Rockefeller argues cogently), before Gurkin has them sticking with the plan. But they needed to discuss this more, because as it stands the show lacks a fun villain, a la Ben Stiller's fitness freak in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," or David Huddleston's Big Lebowski.
I could also get behind robbing the ABC executives who picked up "In Case of Emergency," which comes on tonight after "Knights of Prosperity" and instantly displays a commitment to slapstick in direct proportion to a state of comedic denial.
"In Case of Emergency" stars Jonathan Silverman (robbable), David Arquette (ditto) and Greg Germann (less so) as old high school friends in various intersecting mid-30s poses of identity crisis and privilege collapse. This involves a stolen bakery truck, gunplay and a visit to a massage parlor, the happy ending provided by the high school's former class valedictorian (Kelly Hu).
These four will join forces to find themselves -- and a sense of family -- anew. Great, more team-building. And -- sitcom trend alert! -- ironic Jewish T-shirts, including a midriff-baring tank that Hu wears, which says, "You had me at Shalom."
Is this comedy's new spit-take?
A Review from The Boston Globe
In plot to rob Mick, 'Knights' shows flashes of brilliance
January 03, 2007|Matthew Gilbert, Globe Staff
The first episode of "The Knights of Prosperity" is a gas, gas, gas, as guest star Mick Jagger parodies his wealth with a mock E! channel special about his deluxe Manhattan crib. Oozing nouveau-riche satisfaction, Mick shows us the indoor pool for his dogs, a "Sticky Fingers" statue that spits butter onto popcorn, and the tub in which our beloved, be-lipped icon takes his yogurt baths. "Good for the skin!" he gushes. "Fantastic!"
Touring his palatial hat room, he shares his styling wisdom like a sixth Fab Fiver: "You're never alone with a hat," he advises.
Everything else in "The Knights of Prosperity," about blue-collar workers plotting to rob Mick's apartment, ought to pale next to this material. But remarkably, it doesn't, and the rest of the sitcom, which premieres tonight at 9 on Ch annel 5, works like a charm.
By next week's episode, it's clear that ABC might finally have a shot at a comedy hit that's more imaginative than "According to Jim." With scruffy Donal Logue as janitor Eugene Gurkin leading his five bumbling cohorts into the elaborate burglary, "Knights" has more than enough texture and wit to survive Mick. (Jagger has not yet committed to any more appearances on the series.)
Some sitcoms ignore money -- "Friends" and "Seinfeld," for example, weren't self-conscious about their own class issues. But like "My Name Is Earl," with which it has much in common, "Knights" jumps right into America's socioeconomic divide for its drive and humor. Mick is the show's flaunting symbol of the Haves, while Eugene is the self-appointed king of the Have Nots. Watching the E! special after a day of plunging toilets, Eugene hatches his plot to steal enough from Jagger to finance a bar and get out of his rut. While Earl on "My Name Is Earl" had his "Aha!" moment watching Carson Daly talk about karma, Eugene is struck by the excess of E!.
He enlists a few struggling friends in his plan, and they agree to become Robin Hood and his Merry Band, sort of. "We're stealing from the rich to give to the poor: Us," Eugene tells them.
The Knights of Prosperity, as Eugene calls them, are planning a crime, of course; but the show gets us to root for them as lovable outsider-heroes. Aware that theft is probably their best chance at the American Dream, the Knights are just being practical and proactive.
In this context of affection for its inept underdogs, creators Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman (the team also created "Ed") poke much politically incorrect fun at them. Gourishankar (Maz Jobrani), an Indian cab driver, and Esperanza (Sofia Vergara), a Latina waitress, are sitcom parodies of their ethnicity, particularly as the actors intensify their accents for laughs. Chubby black security guard Rockefeller Butts (Kevin Michael Richardson) is like a big-eating, smooth-loving live-action version of Chef from "South Park." And the Knights hold their nighttime meetings at a Jewish supplies warehouse, where they are seen conspiring among menorahs and "Kiss Me I'm a Mensch" T-shirts.
To embrace "Knights," you have to have a taste for the kind of comedy that teases because it loves; the show will probably elicit a complaint or two from humorless cultural organizations.
"Knights" is a single-camera sitcom, so we are not subjected to laugh-track guffaws whenever Rockefeller Butts eats another cookie or a dreidel is spun. The show doesn't laugh at itself, and, as on "Scrubs," some jokes fly by unnoticed the first time around.
Originally, the show was called "Let's Rob Mick Jagger." But the new title has a nice sense of irony, as it gives its klutzy amateurs such a lofty label, and it also has durability. Now, if the show catches on, and I think it will, the Knights will be perfectly free to steal from other rich and famous people.
To watch some clips from The Knights of Prosperity go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=knights+of+prosperity+episodes&aq=f
For an Interview with the creators of Knights of Prosperity go to http://www.maximumfun.org/blog/2007/01/podcast-knights-of-prosperity.html
For The Official Website of Donal Logue go to http://donallogue.com/
For The Official Website of Sofia Vergara go to http://www.sofiavergara.com/
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6-FMZUS2yk and to watch a music video with the theme song go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgEl1TRsstw
� Date: Mon May 7, 2007 � Filesize: 24.8kb � Dimensions: 406 x 325 �
Keywords: The Knights Of Prosperity