In retreat on “Cavemen” … and rethinking “Chuck”

Caveman_1015I went out on a limb for “Cavemen,” and they cut it down on me.

Twice at Season Pass I have defended the show (albeit with faint praise), but last week’s episode mocked my efforts. I was prepared to not laugh out loud, having been intrigued by an approach that emphasized dry wit over obvious humor, but the most recent airing lacked either. For the first time, I saw “Cavemen” as others have — as the worst kind of “Saturday Night Live” skit, all premise and no execution.

In particular, the descent into idiocy of the once-cunning and acerbic Nick from the unaired original pilot of “Cavemen” has torpedoed the show’s promise. Now, there is no one to effectively challenge Joel’s mostly conventional way of thinking.

Most people would suggest that I’ve given this show way, way too much thought. I don’t regret giving “Cavemen” a chance, but it’s no fun being wrong about a show’s viability.

* * *

Chuck_1015As for “Chuck,” the NBC goof-drama that I slandered earlier this month by comparing it to “Cavemen” … at the urging of my colleague, Josef Adalian, I gave it another chance by watching last week’s third episode.  And I do agree that it showed me something. There were a few moments of delight in the show, and in general it was modestly entertaining and easy to watch. Joe, I officially recant my position that “Chuck” and “Cavemen” are equals.

Yet I still find myself escaping “Chuck” addiction. For one thing, “Chuck” continues to lag for me behind “Reaper,” the CW’s similarly structured fractured fairy tale about an unlikely world-saver.

Reaper_b10 I spent most of my time watching last week’s “Reaper” trying to figure out why. I think part of it is has to do with the shows’ villains. While the enemies on both shows fall on the cartoonish side, the ones on “Reaper” seem to have a more interesting backstory, in the tradition (though without the richness) of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

For the most part, I’m splitting hairs between the two shows. If “Reaper” didn’t exist, I’d probably watch “Chuck” each week. But I don’t need both — and in a world where I have unwatched shows backing up on my DVR, it’s entirely possible that neither will stick with me long-term. (The only good thing about AMC’s truly superior “Mad Men” ending its season this week is that it will free up another hour for me.)

— Jon Weisman

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  1. trainwreck says:

    I wonder to why I continue to watch Reaper. It is not a bad show, by any means, but it is not really good either. It has a couple moments where I find it funny and Ray Wise is still awesome as the devil (and he should be on the show more), but the show falls pretty flat of the expectations I had for it.
    I guess the fact that I do not really watch TV on Tuesdays (except when Nip/Tuck is on), I have found myself watching Reaper just because I find the show tolerable and there is really nothing else on.
    That and Missy Peregrym.

  2. Dani in NC says:

    I’ve heard so many singing the praises of “Reaper” but the premise turned me off. Parents selling their child to the Devil? It doesn’t sound like a comedy to me. However, so many people have said it was funny, I may have to find the pilot and take a look.

  3. Jon Weisman says:

    Why, whatever are you talking about? :)
    (And thanks.)

  4. ed says:

    “In particular, the decent into idiocy” should read “descent into idiocy”.

  5. Joe B. says:

    I do feel the same about Mad Men, though I will truly miss it, the rare TV show that treats me like an adult.
    Couldn’t watch Reaper last week, it was about swarming bees. I don’t do bugs.
    I do Bugs.

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