Friday, September 14, 2018

Pilot Review: Kidding

Kidding (Showtime)
Premiered September 9 at 10pm

Back in the 1990s, Jim Carrey was hugely popular. He starred in a number of very entertaining comedy films and had an extremely successful career. For a brief period, he dipped into drama with “The Truman Show” and “Man on the Moon,” which won him back-to-back Golden Globes, and his last truly acclaimed film was “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” from director Michel Gondry. Now, nearly fifteen years later, Carrey makes a triumphant return to prominence after less frequent – and less notable – films and some controversial comments about vaccinations. This series is a truly bizarre specimen, something that could only have been cooked up by Gondry, and honestly, something that Carrey might be uniquely qualified to anchor. His comedy past gives audiences some context for what to expect from him, and those dramatic detours mean that he’s capable of playing characters who aren’t totally in sync with the world around them, suppressing deeper issues while putting on a happy front. Jeff seems set on sharing what he’s feeling with the viewers, who he refers to as friends, but those kind of serious death conversations aren’t going to be allowed by others, namely his father, who’s also his producer and boss. He’s about to experience a full-blown crisis that’s going to show through to viewers even just in the change of his haircut. His sister has her own wacky ideas, like refusing to let her daughter shower until she eats her vegetables, and his surviving son, Will, whose troublemaking tendencies compensate for his father’s do-gooder behavior. There’s a lot of talent here, namely Oscar nominees Frank Langella and Catherine Keener and the always great Judy Greer. I need to watch more to see what to make of this show, which includes some puzzling tangents like the snagglehorse guys having sex in the suit, but it is intriguing if nothing else.

How will it work as a series? Jeff is going to be chastised for ruining his squeaky-clean image, and I’m sure his determination to share what he’s going through is going to cause him to continue to try to rebel. It should be an interesting journey, though a few more episodes will have to indicate what direction it’s really headed in and where it wants to end up.
How long will it last? Reviews are decent, if far from universal acclaim. The ratings aren’t great, coming in considerably below “SMILF,” a show that didn’t have Carrey at the helm. It seems like a productive effort for Showtime to pursue, so I imagine a renewal will give it more of a shot even if the numbers don’t suggest it deserves one.

Pilot grade: B

No comments: