30 November 2006

10 Items or Less S1 E1 - The New Boss

The first few seconds (the opening sequence) of 10 Items or Less feels a lot like Arrested Development's opening narrative.

[Cue whimsical background music] This is the Greens and Grains Grocery Store. It's been in my family for five generations. This is my father Bud [cue old, sepia-toned photo of Dad in the grocery store], he never thought I'd amount to anything. So I went to New York City to prove him wrong [cue photo of map of NY].... he died before I could do so. And now I'm back in Ohio running the Greens and Grains Grocery Store. The crew here is really counting on me. I hope I don't screw this up.

I was waiting to hear that familiar, "It's Arrested Development" at the end of that.

The scenes remind me of The Office. You have this crazy mix of an obnoxious boss who doesn't know what he's doing and a team of wacky staff/employees each with their own personalities and agenda.

The format follows Curb Your Enthusiasm's style --- partly scripted, partly improv. The actors, all professional improv artists, don't get a real script and they're just given an outline of what the situation will be and they have to work on the comedy. It even aims to make real shoppers become participants of the TV show, without them knowing it.

To combine all three --- Arrested Development, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm --- in one TV show is supposedly going to work like magic. In 10 Items or Less' case, the rhythm is there yet some scenes felt like it was overdone, while other scenes felt lacking in something funny. However, I can't judge a whole TV show based on one episode. Suffice to say, one episode does not tell me enough, so yes, I will keep watching this one because I wanna know if its able to improve the comedy. Besides I'm done with sitcoms (can't get into the new ones being developed coz for one thing, I don't like the laugh tracks) and I'm loving the formats comedy shows have these days (the type pioneered by Curb Your Enthusiasm in style and story development), regardless of the fact that its the route most "groundbreaking" comedy shows aim at (so they end up looking like CYE copycats).

10 Items or Less airs on a cable channel -TBS , a TV network that's still a freshman at producing original comedy shows. What they air are mostly reruns of outstanding series like SATC, Seinfeld, Cosby Show and Newsradio.

Other shows worth checking out which may have a similar format like this one:
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia - JackTV on Sky Cable airs this
The Comeback - Lisa Kudrow's brainchild
Sons and Daughters - StarTV used to air this on cable, don't know if it's still on