Review: ‘Say What’

Host: Bill Maher.

Host: Bill Maher.

Apackage of three half-hour comedy spex leads off with a sharp concept, several funny sections and an overload of items that don’t make it. The idea’s so good it should be refined.

Satire’s the game, and the brigade of writers, producers and director employ several good ways of using it. Best method is laying in phony soundtracks on film clips and videotapes so it resembles, like Francis the Mule, the subjects sounding off on a variety of subjects. Best of the lot: Two men talking about an entryway at a building under construction.

Celebs are fair game, with politicians leading the parade. Bush and Quayle are the blatantly obvious targets, suggesting a paucity of political imagination. A bit of digging could turn up a treasurehouse of pols mouthing off–liberals as well as conservatives. The clubwoman, the building contractor, the average citizen are amusingly reworded–and there’s a laugh track to help those who don’t know when to laugh.

Best samples of that are the so-so sketches, though one about a father, his daughter and her date has a seed of an idea. The sketches need rethinking and rewriting; they jar as they bump up against the slick videos.

Host Bill Maher’s opening monologue is bland, but that’s repairable. He’s an agreeable host, and Rich Hall as an added participant helps the cause. Director John Moffitt keeps things moving at a peppy pace, and the program, if polished to a gleam,has the potential for reaching big audiences. There are, as there aren’t in so many sitcoms, laughs; CBS could do worse.

Say What

(Fri.(26), 8:30-9 p.m., CBS-TV)


Taped in L.A. by Moffit-Lee Prods. Exec producers, John Moffitt, Pat Tourk Lee; producer, Scott Schaefer; director, Moffitt; writers, Larry Arnstein, Danny Breen, Nonie Breen, Pat Cashman, Rich Hall, Tim Keleher, Lane Sarasohn, Scott Schaefer; art director, Tracy Marsh Nejame; production designer, Bill Bohnert.


Cast: Rich Hall, John Cervenka, Bruce Jarchow, Denise Moses, Ryan Stiles, Glenn Super, Victor Wilson. Voices: Danny Breen. Nonie Breen, Bill Martin, Phil Proctor, Linda Gary, Tim Kelleher, Mendi Segal, Lennie Weinrib.
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