Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 18, 2007
POP CULTURE: FrankTV

My wife and I have been watching some episodes of FrankTV lately on TBS. The show, if you're not familiar, is basically as low-budget a concept as you can get this side of a reality show: Frank Caliendo does sketches in which he plays nearly all the characters, and the sketches are broken up by Frank on a couch with a semi-randomly selected member of the studio audience.

The writing on the show isn't particularly good, but it's worth tuning in for an episode or two if you haven't seen Caliendo's impressions, which are uncanny. Longer term, of course, the show is yet another point in the evolution of original TV programming towards budget-consciousness. Even some scripted shows these days seem to be under pressure to make do with smaller casts and fewer sets. It's an economically rational response to the decline of mass-market ratings.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:34 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I had much the same snyopsis after viewing the first four episodes. His impressions are so spot-on that they're sometimes scary (I've now added the Charles Barkley "that's tar-u-bul" to my vernacular) but I'll go a bit further than you did: that is some of the worst writing on television. Can't say "the worst", as the Bionic Woman writers hold that mantle, but it's pretty close. Great scenes are just waiting a funny line, but all we're left with is a great impression and the lack of a finisher.

Posted by: RW at December 18, 2007 10:59 AM

I guess it's once a generation. Back in my day (when I hiked through the snow barefoot to shovel coal for the Widow Brown), mimics started with Frank Gorshin and David Frye (made famous for Richard Nixon) and culminated with Rich Little. He had a show too, which was also dull. But the same: it was a "How did he do that?"

I am very much on the side of the writers during this strike. The lousy ones always get hired for things like FrankTV. The good ones do Heroes, Lost, House, Amadeus, Avalon (if you haven't seen that one, it's the best thing Barry Levinson ever did). And the good and great ones are the reasons we sit in front of that box or go out.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at December 18, 2007 11:14 AM

I gave the show a couple of tries, but as Charles Barkley would say, "it's just terrible." His impressions are great, but the skits just aren't funny. In a way his show reflects a problem with a lot of the parody movies that have come out recently. There seems to be a mentality that merely referencing something is humor in and of itself. Well, you kind of need to be funny as well.

And I like Caliendo and have cracked up at a lot of his other stuff. Too bad his show is so awful.

Posted by: paul zummo at December 18, 2007 11:45 AM

I have been disappointed with most of the new shows I have watched. Like RW stated, Bionic Woman has been very disappointing and so has Flash Gordon. Both could have been great shows, with the material they had to work with, but the writers seemed intent on reinventing the wheel. Somebody needs to tell them that different doesn't necessarily mean better.

Posted by: maddirishman at December 18, 2007 4:20 PM
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