Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thank God You're Here - and you don't suck.

Thank God You'reHere - Fill-in programming that doesn't suck

It's once again that time of the television season where we are getting fill-in programming,and luckily it can't all be Deal or No Deal. The first one I've actually checked out is Thank God You're Here.

Thank God You're Here is a mix of What's My Line, and SNL. They write skits, with several actors playing pre-written plots, and drop in an actor who is sworn in before the show as to having seen no script, scene, or costume until they are given them, to wing their own part. Guided Improv, with name actors and celebrities that are either going to make you laugh or stub out what is left of their usually dwindling careers.

They have some near top-shelf names, Jason Alexander for one, and a lot of other character actors and celebrities, mostly B(or C)-list, who you know when you see them. It's hosted by David Alan Grier with Dave Foley as a mock judge ala Drew Carey. He gives lightly weighted comments and picks the best each night to win a token trophy, which I am sure goes up next to the Emmies and Oscars these actors don't have.

To hear the premise, this show sounds like a train wreck, but for the first four episodes it works. Most of these people are really funny, and it shows through. The Malcom in the Middle Dad, Bryan Cranston, was especially good. The skit in the photo on the right, with Harland Williams was one of the best, though I barely recognize the guy. and there have been other standouts too. Even Shannon Elizabeth managed to get some laughs. The supporting cast that they work the skit with is very good and the scenes are wide open for someone to improv through.

I'd love to see this showed ramped up a little bit, say, bring in a spoiler each week, one of the acknowledged pro's at improv, Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles, or their other cohorts from "What'sMy Line," the change-up could do both sides good.

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