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Cavemen aired from October until November 2007 on ABC.
"They have been around since the dawn of time, survived the Ice Age and witnessed the evolution of the Homo sapiens, making them one of the world's oldest minorities. Keeping mostly to themselves over the millennia and living in remote communities, a small number of cavemen -- and cavewomen -- have been slowly migrating from these sub-societies and attempting to acclimate themselves to the Homo Sapien world. Needless to say, this has proven difficult."
Three cavemen who had successfully made the move to San Diego were just trying to fit in the modern world in this short-lived sitcom. Joel( Bill English) was a sophisticated and intelligent man who had a beautiful girlfriend, a decent job and shared an apartment with his younger brother, Andy ( Sam Huntington), and his best friend, Nick ( Nick Kroll). Nick was wary of the Homo sapien world and felt like he was running away from his heritage. Andy, on the other hand, looked at this new world with his eyes wide open and was willing to take risks in order to learn and to live life to the fullest.
Nick questioned Joel on many of his choices, including his girlfriend, Kate (Kaitlin Doubleday), a beautiful Homo sapien woman. The fact that Kate's eccentric mother, Leslie (Julie White, )owned Joel's condominium complex made things even more complicated for the three roommates. Meanwhile, Kate's best friend, Thorne (Stephanie Lemelin), was intent on discovering the cavemen's wilder side. Maurice ( Jeff Daniel Phillips) was another caveman who lived in town and who was friends with the three roommates and who liked to cruise around in his sports car trying to pick up women.
Joel, Nick and Andy had to overcome prejudice from most of the Homo sapien world and the misconceptions that modern society had of its earliest ancestors. In order for these cavemen to survive in the 21st century, they had to work together to render those misconceptions extinct.
The series was based in part upon characters from the GEICO commercials by The Martin Agency.
A Review from Variety
(Series -- ABC, Tue. Oct. 2, 8 p.m.)
By BRIAN LOWRY
Filmed in Culver City, Calif., by Double Vision and Television 360 in association with ABC Studios. Executive producers, Bill Martin, Mike Schiff, Josh Gordon, Will Speck, Daniel Rappaport, Guymon Casady; co-executive producers, Joe Lawson, Jace Richdale; producer, Michael Petok; directors, Speck, Gordon; writers, Martin, Schiff.
Joel - Bill English
Andy - Sam Huntington
Nick - Nick Kroll
Kate - Kaitlin Doubleday
Thorne - Stephanie Lemelin
Leslie - Julie White
Who says big networks aren't responsive to charges of racial insensitivity? After critics hammered the prototype for Cavemen, the series based on the Geico ads has made its primetime debut having radically reduced the earlier version's allegorical elements. It's thus become an utterly bland exercise -- a slacker buddy comedy with a more elaborate makeup budget in which the protagonists happen to be cavemen. Employing the same rope-a-dope tactic CBS used in hiding Kid Nation, ABC perhaps rightly figured curiosity about this commercial-turned-sitcom would only be diminished by reviews identifying the show for what it is -- the lowest rung of comedy's evolutionary ladder.
Clearly, some rethinking went into handling what became a hot potato this summer. The pilot was set in Atlanta, only heightening the uncomfortable sense that the slights directed at cavemen (who even referred to themselves as maggers ) awkwardly mirrored African-American stereotypes, from their legendary sexual prowess to the view of them as something less by snooty Southerners.
Relocated to San Diego, the revised premiere touches more gingerly on those themes. Yet this is hardly to say the humor qualifies as subtle, and the sanded-off edges don't do much to enhance the show. They do, however, raise questions about the novelty factor wearing off before the second commercial break.
Hard-working Joel (Bill English) lives with his slacker roommate Nick (Nick Kroll) and his whimpering brother Andy (Sam Huntington), who's annoyingly pining for an ex-girlfriend who dumped him. Joel, meanwhile, is hiding his own secret, carrying on a torrid affair with a pretty blond Homo sapiens named Kate (Kaitlin Doubleday), violating the more militant Nick's advice against dating a sape and to keep your penis in your genus.
Nick's badgering gradually preys on Joel, who begins wondering if Kate is hiding him from her friends -- a pretty tepid A plot. As for supporting players, Julie White ( Grace Under Fire ) is still around, only now cast as the Realtor for the boys apartment building, asking them to keep the primal grunting to a minimum when she's showcasing units.
ABC has exhibited a fondness for big comedic ideas, apparently seeing them as shock treatment to jolt comedy out of its ratings malaise. The problem with Cavemen is that nobody seems to have thought the concept through much beyond that -- starting with how to transform a sight gag previously delivered via 30-second increments into a legitimate TV show with actual plots and characters.
The Alphabet network has certainly done its best to get the show noticed. Still, if everyone associated with TV comedy has cause for soul-searching, being funny (a la CBS newbie The Big Bang Theory ) is the most logical place to start, as opposed to merely hoping that a lamely executed Stone Age premise will be enough to light the sitcom's path toward the future.
An Article from USA TODAY
Critics grunt, but here's ABC's 'Cavemen'
By Gary Strauss, USA TODAY
Cavemen could be stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The Geico ad campaign-turned-comedy premieres tonight (8 ET/PT, ABC). But it already has been blasted by critics for a muddled early pilot, the crossover from commercial into mainstream TV and an aura of racial insensitivity.
"It's been a witch hunt in the press," says co-director/producer Will Speck. " 'Corrupt commercialism infecting television, racism.' Our intentions were pure. We just had so much fun with the commercials, we felt there were more stories to tell with these guys."
Cavemen centers on the everyday lives of two brothers and their friend who share an apartment in San Diego normal in most life experiences, except for their lineage.
"There's a lot of assumptions about who they are and what they represent. It has nothing to do with race; that's silly," says executive producer Joe Lawson, who created the ubiquitous Geico ad campaign and the tongue-in-cheek bias against Cro-Magnons living in a Homo sapien world.
"Our concept is that there are only about 2,000 of them. They've always been in the background. While they're a minority, their lives are like everyone else's," Lawson says.
Advance screeners of tonight's premiere episode weren't provided to critics. The show's original pilot, retooled somewhat, will air later in the season to allow the series to better introduce its characters.
"It wasn't about covering up bad mistakes," Speck says of the switch. "We needed to step back and let the concept and characters' back story unfold."
Bill English stars as Joe, the button-down, responsible Cro-Magnon who eventually proposes to his Homo sapien girlfriend. "It's a fish-out-of-water story, but the issues we deal with as cavemen are the same that people of all races deal with," English says. "There are lots of opportunities for humor. You can put these guys in any situation. Doing the Electric Slide. In a grocery store. At the beach."
Cavemen was pitched to three networks. ABC and another, which Speck won't identify, bought into the concept. Yet as the show was being developed, "we went from winning a bunch of (ad industry) awards and favorable press to immediately getting slammed."
English says he's surprised at the animosity Cavemen raised. "I was amazed how seriously people took it," says English, who often spends up to four hours a day in makeup. "This is a comedy. It's not a documentary. We're not trying to change the world."
Speck hopes viewers will keep an open mind. "Just watch it," he says. "We hope it's funny enough for a lot of people. But if you want to hate it, hate it."
A Review from USA TODAY
'Cavemen' collapses under weight of its own stupidity
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
Now we know why cavemen are extinct: They were too stupid to live.
Granted, that's not a particularly shocking revelation, at least not when it comes to ABC's Cavemen. Stupidity was one of the hallmarks of this sorry sitcom's original pilot, which was pulled from the air in part because its racial-prejudice allegory treaded too heavily on African-American stereotypes. Change, however, has come to the world of the cave, and a show that was once dumb and offensive is now dumb and pointless.
There was nothing inherently wrong with the show's original intention, which was, apparently, to use these commercial-import cavemen to comment on modern race relations. The problem was the execution, which was heavy-handed and virtually thought-free. These are rough waters, and shows that display all the tact, skill and intelligence of a Neanderthal would be well advised not to wade in.
If last week's incarnation was no longer insensitive, it was also no longer anything much at all. Shorn of their sole purpose and their only joke, the show's prehistoric heroes are now just three everyday sitcom underachievers, hanging out in bars, playing video games and talking about women they'd never be able to attract. Granted, these boys are not as creepy as the star of the last commercial-to-sitcom transfer, CBS' talking Baby Bob, but they're more than creepy enough.
And, of course, there is the one other, tiny problem. It isn't funny.
The actors suffering under that makeup and these scripts are Bill English as Joel, the "normal" caveman who works at a home-improvement center, and Sam Huntington as his sad-sack brother, Andy.
To the extent the show has a standout character, it would be Nick Kroll as Nick the caveman with a rock on his shoulder, who says things like "Stick to your kind: Crave the Cave" and berates Joel for dating a "sape."
As that sort-of joke indicates, it's hard to teach an old caveman new tricks. Tonight, Nick messes up on the job and gets fired and then sues his employer for discrimination. Which means the network is trying to slip one by you as the writers return once again to material they've yet to prove they have the ability to handle.
Then again, they've also yet to prove they have the ability to expand a marginally funny 30-second commercial into a workable 30-minute sitcom. Compared with that task, mastering fire and the wheel was a piece of cake.
A Review from Metromax Chicago
The worst 30 minutes on television
By Maggie Furlong, Metromix
October 1, 2007
Editor's note: ABC never sent out the ready-for-air pilot of Cavemen, so we're reviewing what they did send their first shot at making it work, which was terrible.
Following a group of three cavemen living in modern-day society, this insurance ad spinoff should've taken out a bigger policy there's no amount of coverage to keep ABC from reeling over this one for a while. Ridiculously playing up stereotypes that exist today, they dare to ask the hard-hitting questions. For instance, do cavemen eat hamburgers, or do they just go straight for the raw meat? With sex, once you go cavemen, do you ever go back? And is it wrong for cavemen to use so-called derogatory terms like Cro-maggers when talking about themselves? Or, like the n -word and other slurs that get banned and bleeped, is it considered pass or in bad taste? Not that these people can be the judges of taste, mind you
Who's that?: Sam Huntington plays Andy, the naive, fun-loving caveman; Nick Kroll plays Nick, the pessimistic, obnoxiously combative caveman; and Bill English plays Joel, the cavemen who's out to prove they're just like everyone else. Joel dates Kate (Kaitlin Doubleday), a Homo sapien, and John Heard and Julie White waste their immense combined talent playing Kate's country-clubbing parents.
Buzzed about: Yes, we're sure you've heard all about it the sitcom based on those (barely funny themselves) Geico commercials that spout so easy, a caveman can do it. Guess they weren't talking about making a good TV show.
The ooh factor: They certainly try hard to draw parallels between their cavemen oppression and modern-day issues of racism against every minority group there is. Although, trying hard to do that is not really a good thing, now that we think about it
The eh factor: What made the show creators decide that the cavemen's hair had to be completely filthy? What, they don't sell conditioner at the Cave-Aid? The fact that these guys look different isn't why they can't acclimate. It's that they look like they haven't showered, shaved, gotten a haircut or a hot oil treatment in, well, ever which, essentially, plays right back into the stereotype debate the show is supposedly trying to bust.
The verdict: Barbarically bad.
An Article from The New York Times
A Sitcom Battles Its Own Prehistory
By DAVE ITZKOFF
Published: December 9, 2007
IN a deceptively agreeable column published in The Oregonian on Oct. 29, the television critic Peter Ames Carlin interjected two revolutionary sentences 13 seditious words that might cause polite readers to question his judgment, if not his sanity.
ABC's sitcom Cavemen is actually really funny, he wrote. You should give it a chance.
In doing so Mr. Carlin joined a small chorus of voices making a contentious point: that Cavemen, the widely reviled comedy series about a clan of young Cro-Magnon men living in a modern world, is not the worst show ever broadcast on television, and might even be good.
Every year, it seems, one new series is offered up as a sacrificial lamb to the critical gods: a fledgling show that earns early and widespread contempt due to a horrible title or preposterous concept ( Shasta McNasty, Stacked ), unfulfilled potential or poor execution ( Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Emily's Reasons Why Not ) or the presence of a former cast member of Seinfeld or Friends.
In 2007 that show has undeniably been Cavemen. And while it is the right of any pilloried artist to wallow in self-justification and feelings of being misunderstood, the Cavemen creators look back and think they were sunk from the start.
Though it seems hard to believe now, there was once a time when the show's shaggy main characters were objects of cultlike adoration. Introduced in 2004 in a series of commercials for Geico insurance, the erudite primitives who took offense at a slogan for the company's Web site ( So easy to use ... a cave man could do it ) skewered political correctness and advertising itself; as the commercials evolved from jokey pastiches into miniature narratives about the characters upscale urban lives, they rapidly attracted an Internet fan base.
Encouraged by the online support, Joe Lawson, the copywriter of the Geico commercials, along with Josh Gordon and Will Speck, the directors, wrote a pilot script for a Cavemen sitcom that would continue to expand the characters world.
Rather than them holding clubs and being mired in the past, Mr. Gordon said, we thought it would be really funny to acclimate them and make them metrosexual males living in the present day.
Last winter the three men began pitching their script to television studios and networks; they received an enthusiastic response from ABC and its entertainment president, Stephen McPherson. Though it was already late in the network's development cycle, Mr. McPherson teamed the Cavemen creators with Bill Martin and Mike Schiff, the veteran executive producers of comedies like 3rd Rock From the Sun and Grounded for Life, and rapidly put a pilot episode into production.
The advantage of shooting very quickly was that we got to shoot very quickly, Mr. Gordon said. The disadvantage is, we didn't do a ton of rehearsals or development.
But long before work on the Cavemen pilot was complete, the news that ABC was developing a show from a series of advertisements had become a cause for consternation in the entertainment industry and the media that covers it.
It smelled to people like an attempt at commercialism, Mr. Speck said, that this was some insidious form of advertising, and you don't know when you're being sold to and when you're supposed to be entertained. ABC's announcement, at its so-called upfront presentations for advertisers and journalists in May, that it had added Cavemen to its fall schedule invited a second wave of skeptical press coverage.
At those upfronts, Mr. Schiff said, the story's not going to be CBS picks up another police procedural. It's going to be Hey, they made a show about those cave men from the commercial.
Over the summer ABC circulated copies of the Cavemen pilot to television reporters and critics, an episode in which the show's prehistoric characters visit a contemporary country club. Its creators acknowledge that the episode was hastily produced, and they say it was never intended for broadcast in its rough form.
But when they met with reporters and critics at a July conference of the Television Critics Association in Beverly Hills, the Cavemen creative team was once again raked over the coals not because of the pilot's haphazard production values, but because of the perception, in the minds of some critics, that the show's characters were satirizing African-Americans.
The one that made me realize there was no winning the argument was when someone suggested that because a cave man threw a ringer in horseshoes, that we were trading on the stereotype that African-Americans are superior athletes, said Mr. Martin, who is now an executive producer and show runner on Cavemen. It was at this point, he said, that he realized we should probably just cover our heads and wait for this to be over.
Dating to the original Geico commercials, the characters had been used as props to poke fun at racial and cultural stereotyping. But the show's producers acknowledge that their pilot episode focused too much on these kinds of jokes and not enough on broader situational comedy.
You want to give almost equal time ignoring the fact that they're cave men, and then you don't want to walk away from the jokes that can be told because they're cave men, Mr. Speck said. If you lean too far in one direction, it becomes hokey. It doesn't take enough advantage of its concept.
Production continued through the summer, and when the producers at last settled on an episode with which they would begin the series a more conventional story about a cave man dating a female Homo sapiens they said it was too late for ABC to distribute that episode to critics. The show's producers suspect this created a public perception that ABC was embarrassed by the show and was deliberately withholding it from the press.
At a late-night audio mixing session for the debut episode, Mr. Schiff read an Internet posting in which the author claimed that the episode had been completed several weeks ago.
I looked around, he recalled, and I said, Hey, this guy on the Internet says we've been finished for weeks; I guess we can go home.
Paradoxically the negative press may have encouraged audiences to sample the show's debut on Oct. 2, which was watched by an estimated 9.2 million viewers according to Nielsen Media Research. But it was roundly trounced by critics. ( Comedic deadwood The San Diego Union-Tribune; Tired and tasteless The Boston Globe) and never reached that high-water mark again.
Some critics shared the opinion of Amy Robinson of The Charleston Gazette, who acknowledged that the bad publicity surrounding Cavemen had influenced her opinion of it. The show had a lot of negativity going into it, so it wasn't too difficult to live up (or should I say down?) to expectations, she wrote. David Bianculli of The Daily News in New York wrote that he had not seen the debut episode but hated it anyway, awarding it zero stars.
Some comedy producers wonder if the very concept of Cavemen, centered on a group of prehistoric young men instead of a traditionally dysfunctional family or workplace, made it impossible for the show to receive a fair hearing from reviewers.
When you have a concept like that, you kind of have to go out of your way to court them, with the quality and the tone of the show almost compensating for the idea, said Stu Smiley, the veteran producer and development executive whose credits include The Kids in the Hall, Everybody Loves Raymond and Flight of the Conchords. You know they're going to be extra-hard on you because you've got this high-concept thing. You're almost saying, Hit me.
And while most critics took swings at Cavemen, a few have come out in the show's defense. In The Palm Beach Post, Kevin D. Thompson confessed that he liked it far more than he had expected to, writing that it still manages to produce a few genuine chuckles. In The New York Post, Adam Buckman wrote that the show was much improved in its second episode. And the New York magazine blog Vulture (nymag.com/daily/entertainment) is unequivocal in its support, begging, Please, ABC, don't cancel Cavemen !
As of this writing ABC has made no public statement about the future of Cavemen, whose ratings have continued to erode since its premiere. Under normal circumstances the show might have been canceled by now, but with the writers strike continuing to drag out, and seven episodes of the show (produced by ABC Studios) yet to be broadcast, there are compelling incentives for the network not to swing the ax just yet. ( That's why I voted for the strike, Mr. Martin said jokingly. Purely to try to save Cavemen. )
Still, the producers say they have no delusions about the long-term viability of Cavemen, and are simply trying to sustain themselves with the small bits of electronic praise that trickle in to them via Web pages and Google News alerts. When we're feeling kind of beaten down, Mr. Martin said, we'll read it out loud in the writers room, like, Thank you! There is a God! You don't want to admit it has that much power over you, but it really does.
Mr. Gordon agreed that such encouragement, no matter where it originates, was a powerful reinforcement on a project where positive feedback has lately been in short supply. I think it makes everyone feel like what we're all doing is not completely without any sort of merit, he said. It's the truth about a success or a failure: Everybody works just as hard.
To watch some clips from Cavemen go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=cavemen+tv+show&aq=0
For a history of the cavemen go to https://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-figures/cave-dweller1.htm
To listen to the theme song of Cavemen go to http://www.televisiontunes.com/Cavemen.html
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