Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Pilot Review: The Guest Book

The Guest Book (TBS)
Premiered August 3 at 10pm

Here we have it, the second anthology series to premiere in one week. This one, unlike “Room 104,” is pure comedy, though I didn’t find it all that funny. I knew going into this pilot that this show that it was the brainchild of Greg Garcia, who was behind two series that many enjoyed but I didn’t like all that much – “My Name is Earl” and “Raising Hope.” This show incorporates the same kind of theme as the former show, with each episode focusing on a different set of strange guests in an open room at a set of rental cottages. Unlike other anthologies, this show does have some constants, as described in the moderately clever introduction to the second episode, who will appear in each installment to interact with the guest players. This show obviously attracts some decent talent, with Danny Pudi of “Community” and “Powerless” and Lauren Lapkus from “Orange is the New Black” in episode one and Stockard Channing, Mary Lynn Rajskub from “24,” and an almost unrecognizably thin Henry Zebrowski from “Heroes Reborn” and “A to Z” in the second. Garret Dillahunt, a regular on “Raising Hope,” is the lone face I recognized from the recurring ensemble. I wasn’t particularly fond of either of the first two stories, and the sophistication of the plotlines is highly disappointing. This show is a tiny bit entertaining, but it’s not nearly the great comedy fodder that I’ve come to expect recently of TBS, but instead closer to the forgettable fare it used to produce.

How will it work as a series? Well, we’ve seen a fifth of it so far. The evolution from a guy who makes VHS tapes of his stepmom and random visitors to the strip club to a woman who injects her son’s girlfriend with animal tranquilizers so that she can baptize her in her sleep doesn’t suggest much intellectual value for this show going forward, and I think it’s only going to go downhill from here.
How long will it last? The reviews aren’t too terrific and the ratings were fine but nothing to write home about, so the question is whether TBS is getting ahead of itself with its programming or if it’s ready to adopt yet another show that might be a bit different from their usual format. I think it will earn a renewal even though it doesn’t deserve it.

Pilot grade: C