TV Review: Sit Down, Shut Up – Pilot


Sit Down, Shut Up, FOX, Airs Sundays at 8:30/7:30p CST

Episode: “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

Synopsis: In the series premier of Sit Down, Shut Up, the latest addition to Fox’s Sunday night “Animation Domination” line-up, the dimwitted and largely demented faculty of Knob Haven High School, discover a bottle of what they believe to be steroids in a student’s locker. Naturally, they decide to distribute the pills to the school’s pathetic football team (“the baiters”) but not before testing them out on unsuspecting assistant principal, Stuart Proszakian voiced by SNLer Will Forte.

Review: The plot of this first episode is incidental and really just a way to introduce the obscenely over-the-top cast of animated characters. In addition to loopy “Ass Principal” Proszakian we meet Ennis Hofftard (Will Arnett), the meathead English teacher, Andrew LeGustambos (Nick Kroll), the flamboyant, bisexual drama teacher, and Helen Klench (Cheri Oteri), an ornery librarian with a fondness for Kegel exercises. Muhannad Sabeeh “Happy” Fa-ach Nuabar (Tom Kenny) is a custodian/possible terrorist, Miracle Grohe (Kristin Chenoweth) is a creationist science teacher, and Willard Deutschebog (Henry Winkler), is a neurotic German teacher who, in a tedious subplot, fears he’ll lose his job after a student spots him buying “filthies” aka porno mags. We learn via flashback that Knob Haven’s principal was maimed during the drama department’s production of Edward Scissorhands; so serving in his stead is sassy Sue Sezno (Kenan Thompson). Finishing off the list of revealingly (or stupidly) named characters is Larry Littlejunk (Jason Bateman) who is, perhaps, the most intelligent of the bunch but somehow stuck teaching P.E. As you can see, there are roughly five million characters in this show and the first episode suffers because of this. There are far too many wacky personalities to keep track of. Bateman’s Littlejunk—haha, guess it’s funny after all! —seems to be the show’s true protagonist and hopefully now that all of the groundwork has been laid down, future episodes can focus more on him.

As far as the jokes go, the pilot was bogged down in a lot of bawdy, eye-rolling humor. The opening scene finds Ennis Hofftard driving behind a group of bike riding “high sc-losers” and telling them to “make way for a teacher with a little nut sack.” He is, of course, referring to a bag of nuts and not underdeveloped genitalia. But wouldn’t that line have been so much more satisfying if the writers would’ve just let things stand at “little nut sack”? It’s like they were on the verge of being slightly subversive but chickened out and decided to go for the broad, easy gag.

To the show’s credit, the animation is set to a live-action backdrop which is novel, and there were several provocative Meta, fourth-wall-breaking moments sprinkled throughout. Some just seemed to be commenting on sitcom conventions—Larry Littlejunk requests a flashback, Stuart Proszakian keeps saying that he needs a catchphrase—but there was at least one reference to the whole here-today-canceled-tomorrow nature of TV. Andrew LeGustambos says that he isn’t going to test well with audiences because he’s bisexual. It’s just one brief moment, and maybe I’m making too much of it, but I couldn’t help but think that creator Mitch Hurwitz, who also created Arrested Development, may already be preparing for the show’s cancellation.

I’m sure I’m not the first to ask it, but speaking of Hurwitz, how completely bizarre is Fox’s marketing strategy for this show? Every advertisement that I saw for Sit Down, Shut Up mentioned that it was the brainchild of the creator of Arrested Development. Award winning, critically acclaimed, adored by many, yes, Arrested Development was all of these things. But it was also canceled. By Fox. So here Fox is, trying to persuade us to watch a show by telling us that it was created by the same man who created a show that they didn’t think was worth keeping on the air. I’m having a hard time deciding whether this is totally moronic or if Fox is just doing us a service and telling us not to get too attached.

Did you watch the first episode of Sit Down, Shut Up? If so, what did you think?

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