Hulu's western spoof shoots blanks comedy-wise
It’s perhaps appropriate that Hulu has access to “Saturday Night Live,” because in terms of original series, the digital service is starting to look like a not-ready-for-primetime player. After the so-so “Moone Boy” and uninspired “The Awesomes” comes “Quick Draw,” a western spoof seemingly devised — given the form’s current low profile — for no one in particular. Starring and co-written by John Lehr, who plays an Eastern tenderfoot who brags about his Harvard background, it’s an awfully slim construct, played at a level somewhere between desert-dry and teeth-gnashing irritation. Whatever the goal, this ought to have been sent back to the drawing board.
Lehr shares writing and exec producing credit with director Nancy Hower, with whom he collaborated on TBS’ “10 Items or Less.” Still, the “Destry”-like premise is mostly obscured by the lead’s Jerry Lewis antics and a been-there quality to the gags.
Lehr plays John Henry Hoyle, the new sheriff in a Kansas town where his five predecessors all met a violent end. Hoyle’s deputy (Nick Brown) has seen them all come and go, which understandably gives the new lawman pause — as does a pool among the locals on when he’s going to join the ranks of the deceased.
Yet while Hoyle acts like a buffoon and cites his Ivy League credentials at every opportunity, he’s actually pretty handy with a gun, which becomes apparent when he’s charged with hunting down a gang of outlaws.
Silliness isn’t bad, necessarily, but when confined to such a specific setting, there needs to be some point of view. Moreover, the western is hardly a regular point of reference for the young guys who are presumably the target audience, given the snarky, let’s-sift-through-that-corpse tone of the humor.
“Quick Draw” virtually dispenses with any of that, which leaves the actors doing little more than playing dress-up, for what feels considerably longer than the premiere’s 23 minutes.
Hulu’s presence at the TV Critics Assn. tour illustrates that the service wants to be taken seriously as an original-programming provider, and anybody committed to playing in the big leagues is going to fire off their share of duds (a la Netflix’s “Hemlock Grove“).
Nevertheless, it’s hard to see any of the more traditional networks being drawn to something like this. Viewed that way, “Quick Draw” represents a pretty conspicuous misfire, pardner.