Wednesday, September 25, 2002

CTV Hits a New Low

Stacey and I caught the inaugural episode of The Holmes Show last night. I was not impressed. It was the comedic equivalent of week-old rice pudding: it was bland, congealed, sludgy, foul, and left a terrible taste in my mouth.

In my time, I've been exposed to a great variety of Canadian comedy, and I would consider myself a firm supporter of the great majority of it. I'm still a huge fan of the Kids in the Hall and I periodically catch an episode of Air Farce or This Hour Has 22 Minutes. I've even been known to watch old, old re-runs of SCTV and Four on the Floor. Even The Red Green Show has made me laugh on the odd occasion.

This show didn't even make me smile. The only thing that's come even close to that I've seen in the past few years has been the first show of The Wayne Brady Show, a comedic abortion that fashioned itself as a Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour for the new Millenium crossed with Whose Line is it Anyway?, except without all the people that made both shows funny.

I had to ask myself when watching it: can this really be as bad as I think it is? Is it possible that seeing that commercial for it with leading-lady Jessica Holmes' Liza Minnelli caricature over and over and over for three months has soured my potential enjoyment of the show to the point where only bitter, bitter bile still remains? It's not easy to answer that question. I tried to be objective, I really did. But I kept coming back to the same conclusion. I would rather watch a twelve-hour marathon of Mister Roger's Neighborhood than watch another half hour of this show.

The Holmes Show stars Ottawa-native Jessica Holmes, a Second City alumnus, Gemini-nominated comedienne and actress and winner 2001 Platinum Award at the Worldfest International Film Festival. It doesn't show in her latest work. She is accompanied by Kurt Smeaton, another Ottawa-kid and one of Stacey's classmates at Canterbury, and Roman Danylow, whoever he is (CTV claims that he's an actor/improv star--coulda fooled me). I'm not sure what was more awe-inspiring: the total lack of talent exhibited on the show or the fact that the CTV page for the show says they've signed on for twenty-two episodes. Is that a typo? Please, tell me it is!

Highlights, oh, there were highlights! How about Smeaton carrying on a seven-minute sketch in which he spends the first half yelling "what?" at a barking dog, and the second half yelling at a dead squirrel on a stick? How about Holmes, stumbling around and doing a bad impression of Liza Minnelli for ten minutes with only about 30 seconds worth of material? Even when we thought the skit was over and she was gone, she came back not once, not twice, but five times, shrieking at the dumbfounded children to follow her into the off-stage area. This was after berating the poor things with jokes about Michael Jackson abusing them and eating drugs off the floor. She tops off the sketch by lying semi-comatose against a desk after chugging sherry from a flagon. High comedy?

Wait, there's more. Holmes has a homemaker/bible-thumper character, Candy, who attacks homosexuals, promotes "segregation cookies" (with the chocolate cookies seperated from the other cookies), and makes a number of other controversial slurs. In another skit, she resorts to an accent that can normally only be attributed to brain damage (which she claims as her impression of Jennifer Tilley) while spastically jabbing at a wig with some combs on an egg beater. When the skit started to flop, she jammed a comb between her breasts, stammered and/or forgot her next twelve lines, and took fifteen seconds of air-time to recompose herself when she couldn't speak (let alone act), leaving Danylow to try and pick up the pieces. Now, I'm all for pushing the envelope from time to time....but make it funny! I couldn't tell if it was the material that was awful or their delivery. I suspect that it was both.

CTV calls The Holmes Show "a hilarious, edgy, Carol-Burnett-style sketch comedy." I call it "a fecal-ridden lead balloon that would need a NASA solid-fuel booster to get it off the ground...oh, and Carol, I'd be calling my lawyers to check into the current slander laws." I guess only time and the ratings will tell which one of us is right in the end.


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