I'm sure that making a sitcom is a tricky business. Sometimes broad comedy works, sometimes it's forced. Sometimes a quirky character is funny, sometimes stupid. A show like The Big Bang Theory has managed to combine what could be all of the worst elements of a standard issue sitcom, and turned them into gold. But sometimes a very funny show (The Class, The Comeback, SportsNight) never catches on, while horrible shows (Family Matters, Full House, According to Jim) go on for year after tedious year.
You'd think that after over 60 years of trying, the networks and all concerned would be able to tell when something is working and when it is not. Tonight, I tuned to NBC for noise (since the main TV season is over), expecting their usual slate of comedies, many of which I missed during the regular season. Community was on first, and I didn't really pay much attention to it, though I recognized it as a quality production. I'm just not a fan. But I wasn't prepared for what came next.
100 Questions, apparently a summertime series (or a burnoff or whatever), lit up my screen. The premise isn't clear, except that there is a group of friends, with a lovelorn British girl at its center. I didn't catch any of the stars' names, though I doubt it matters. This show is toast. Everything about it is dreadful. Well, most everything. It is shot well, probably edited well. It looks like it filmed rather than videotaped, but the incessant laughter would point to a studio audience. Probably not though, since the laughter was painfully obviously the canned variety. Grating and mechanical would be the best description.
The show is obviously trying to be a little like Friends or other ensemble comedy. The characters hang around a bar that is obviously a set. They're all sitcom stock characters, and while the acting wasn't exactly bad, it was somehow off. Even the opening title sequence felt artificial, like a parody sitcom within a different TV show. I suspect the concept may have been tweaked after the fact, the addition of a laugh track being the key indicator. Maybe it was intended to be a laugh-trackless sitcom like The Middle? I don't know, but something was up. And it wasn't good. At all.