Breaking it down, “Hammertime” continues the trend — generally skewed toward has-beens, the pseudo-famous and the notorious — of celebrities demonstrating how their lives are as boring as everybody else’s. This A&E series also adopts the common formula of refashioning “reality” into a sitcom, with MC Hammer as the constantly present dad to a half-dozen kids age 3 to 21 — think “The Cosby Show,” only with T-shirts replacing ugly sweaters. Alas, he joins a cable parade (see Gene Simmons, Deion Sanders, Denise Richards, etc.) in proving that tag-along camera crews alone do not a series make.
The onetime rap star (aka Stanley Burrell) has relocated to the small northern California town of Tracy, where he presides over a telegenic brood that only occasionally seems to leave the house. When it does, the situations are invariably stilted — accompanying son Jeremiah (11) to “Take Your Dad to School Day” or, in the second episode, speaking at Stanford U., where nephew Jamaris (18) is bored out of his mind. Hey kid, we know how you feel.
There are several story editors credited (along with nine executive producers, including three A&E execs), but the first two back-to-back half-hours make it anybody’s guess what all of them were doing, since there’s nothing resembling a show here.
About the only innovation is the amusing if slightly insulting use of subtitles to translate Hammer’s mumbling cousin Marv, who serves as comic relief when he tries to bust a move (oops, wrong rapper) with a bunch of leggy young dancers. This leads to a session with personal trainer Wee Wee.
And so it goes, with at best glancing reference to Hammer’s financial troubles, which despite his platinum-selling musical success prompted him to file for bankruptcy in 1996. A&E has ordered 10 episodes, but it’s difficult to imagine milking much additional mileage from the Hammer family toolbox.
“Hammertime?” More like “Sleepytime.” Either way, can’t watch this.