Sit Down, Shut Up -- An early look
by Kona Gallagher, posted Apr 17th 2009 5:02PM
I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has been breathlessly anticipating Sit Down, Shut Up (premiering on FOX Sunday at 8:30 PM ET), the newest series from Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz. SDSU is an animated series based on a live-action Australian show by the same name. It follows a group of under-performing teachers at a Florida high school.
The teachers are all flaky, disinterested in their students, and with the exception of Larry Littlejunk (Jason Bateman), highly under-qualified for their positions. An example? Miracle Grohe (Kristen Chenoweth), the science teacher, beat Larry out of the job by stripping off all her clothes and yelling, "I ain't come from no monkey!"
The humor manages to be both broad and subtle at the same time, much in the way Arrested Development managed to be. However, though Bateman himself calls this show an animated version of AD, that's overstating it a bit. Sit Down, Shut Up, is more like Arrested Development's annoying younger brother.
The pilot focuses way more on the broad comedy than the subtle, and it just doesn't work. Instead of making the characters of Andrew Legustambos (Nick Kroll) and Happy (Tom Kenny) funny send-ups of harmful stereotypes (they are gay and Middle Eastern, respectively), in the pilot, they are nothing more than the actual stereotypes and, as a result, the least funny characters on the show.
In fact, I spent the majority of the pilot cringing at how not funny it is. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I'm not sure I laughed out loud once during the entire thing. After it ended, I was ready to write off the entire series. Luckily, it gets better.
The second episode, titled, "Miracle's Are Real," is leaps and bounds better than the pilot. In it, Will Arnett, who plays Ennis Hofftard, and Jason Bateman interact a lot more, bringing back some of their former Michael/Gob magic. In fact, Larry's bumbling overtures toward Miracle are very Michael Bluth-esque and hilarious.
There are even more AD overtones with Henry Winkler as German teacher Willard Deutschebog. Although it took me a little while to realize it was him, once I did, I saw a lot of similarities between Willard and Winkler's AD character, Barry Zuckerkorn. Basically, they're both pervy sad-sacks who you can't help but root for, just a little bit.
Despite all of the Arrested Development love, Sit Down, Shut Up is definitely not a clone of the beloved series. It's a completely different animal, just with the same comic sensibility. SDSU is helped along in becoming its own show by rounding out the cast with former and current Saturday Night Live castmembers, Cheri Oteri, Keenan Thompson and Will Forte.
If you're one of the many people who didn't find the humor in Arrested Development, you're not going to like this either. If you were an AD fan, you need to take Sit Down, Shut Up with a grain of salt. Don't go into it expecting an Arrested Development resurrection, because you're not going to get it. Give the show some time. Watch the pilot on Sunday night, but come back next week for episode two. The show really starts to not only find its footing, but also reasons to show (blacked out) cartoon genitalia-- and who can resist that?