The small but loyal band that appreciates the Naked Trucker and T-Bones’ rollicking stage show will no doubt find itself somewhat perplexed viewing this TV incarnation, which bears the familiar markings of a poorly adapted novel or out-of-tune screen version of a favorite musical. The outward resemblance is there, but the beast appears to have been defanged, or at least muzzled, leaving behind a pallid imitation. Despite the talented performers involved, this is one of those instances in which a friend would say, “Don’t give up your night job.”
Then again, the real wonder is that this concept found a TV home at all, mixing as it does music and comedy in a package not quite seen since the Smothers Brothers’ short-lived flirtation with (and later revival on) CBS. In this case, stars Dave (Gruber) Allen and David Koechner play the self-explanatory Naked Trucker and his daft, booze-swilling sidekick T-Bones, respectively, who drive the open road singing off-color ditties with lines like (onstage, anyway) “Two dollars and a hand job.”
Cleaned up a bit for TV, it’s hard to fathom what exactly to make of the duo, who are featured both clowning in front of an audience and in clunky taped segments where, for example, T-Bones breaks into a house and settles in for a bubble bath. There are also guest celebrity cameos (Will Ferrell drops in), but those too just sort of sit there, as if a movie star’s mere presence will suffice.
Similarly, the pair’s trademark banter — leaving the stripped trucker, his naughty bits hidden behind a guitar, exasperated by T-Bones’ sheer stupidity — works better as a live riff, feeling more stilted and less spontaneous packaged for the tube.
As played by Koechner with his goofy sideburns and thick drawl, T-Bones is certainly the very model of a modern redneck TV character, a type that’s won favor among the “Blue-Collar TV” contingent. Still, fewer rednecks will embrace the gag here, and some of the humor should be a trifle obscure for an audience that isn’t either well versed in Trucker lore or the beneficiary of an herbally enhanced outlook.
Even with those misgivings, Allen and Koechner are pleasant enough company that it’s not a particularly bad way to waste a half-hour, but for anyone seeking the kind of full-throttle mirth the title’s lunacy would suggest, sorry, but you’ll have to keep on truckin’.