I'm a sports fan. So I did what a lot of sports fans do during October: I watched the baseball playoffs (a lot of it actually - recall, I am unemployed). Between innings (and shots of Kevin Youkilis screaming "white power!") TBS and its broadcasting parnter Fox devised a clever procedure for promoting its new series, Frank TV: show irritating fat guy ("Frank") in costume doing unrelated and meaningless impressions in front of a plain white screen for 30 seconds, repeat.
And repeat they did. If you watched any baseball between September and October 2007, you know exactly what I mean. If you didn't, you probably do anyways. By November, comericals for Frank TV (see above description - they stuck with the formula) had infiltrated every aspect of my TV life: I couldn't watch Seinfeld re-runs, SportsCenter or the other things I use TV for without seeing Frank as Jack Nicholson, Frank as Bob DeNiro and Frank as John Madden. Thank God for Jeopardy and my love for all movies on Bravo which gave me my only TV breaks from Frank. (By the way, have you seen the new Bosch water-saving dishwasher? Two words: tight, dawg.)
The show made its debut last night. Given that this new program was an obvious attempt at reaching my demographic (18-30 year old males) I felt it was my social responsiblity to watch the thing (Full disclosure: I also watched the first episode of Cavemen). This is what I knew heading into the first episode:
1. Frank seems to be a very talented impressionist. Well, he's good at doing impressions. He might do a dead-on Cezanne, I don't know. In any case - he sounds just like John Madden (my John Madden voice is just me talking with a slice of bread in my mouth - quite effective, actually), and does the "beady-eyed shoulder shrug" Bush thing better than anyone.
2. Impressions are amusing for about 5 seconds, or sometimes not at all.
This is all I knew. Was it a sketch comedy show? A talk show? I didn't know. But I was fairly certain it would invovle impressions. I was also certain that if Vegas had set the over/under on the show's Suckiness Level at 47, I would have taken the over. Not sure what a 47 means (I just made up the scale) but the fact is not matter what the over/under was, I would have taken the over. Essentially, I fully expected the show to be terrible.
Guess what? I was right. The show was terrible. Not like "that's going to be cancelled soon" more like "oh my god, that shit was fucking terrible". Some take-aways from the viewing:
1. After Frank introduced himself and welcomed us to the show, I realized that prior to this, I had no idea what he looked like - he was always in costume. After seeing him sans-costume, I recognized him as the guy who I previously could not identify in the Frank TV commercials.
2. Low point of the half hour was a toss-up between Bill Clinton breakdancing with a stereotypical black man and the 12th mention of "Turducken".
3. The impressions were actually really, really good, but they just weren't funny at all. About halfway through the show, as Frank was engaging a studio-audience member (also the co-host for the evening - not making this up) in a meaningless conversation which had the sole purpose of introducing the next impression, I realized that he seemed miserable. I bet he's like a really tall kid who doesn't really want to be a basketball player - but he's tall, so his parents, coaches and teachers push him into it. I bet Frank never wanted to be a comedian - but at a young age, he found he could duplicate the vocal patterns of other humans. So he was probably pushed into comedy, because that's what you do when you do impressions, but he was never really into it. But Jesus, how amazing would this guy be at stealing identities or something? And what if he's actually really good at something else? What if he was a whiz with pork belly futures trading? These are things we just won't know.
4. I should note that this is only tangentially (or perhaps un-) related, but I recently saw the guy who made the sound effects on Police Academy on a Geico Commerical (likely shortly before or after an ad for Frank TV) and wondered why they didn't give him a show at some point, maybe on the radio or something. Maybe he had a show, but in the absence of any information, I will assume racism.