Friday, May 23, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Surviving Jack (2014) ***½

TV-14, 8 24-min. episodes
Creators: Patrick Schumacker, Justin Halpern

Directors: Roger Kumble, Michael McDonald, Victor Nelli Jr., Joe Nussbaum, John Putch, Michael Weaver, Ken Whittingham

Writers: Patrick Schumacker, Justin Halpern (also book “I Suck at Girls”), Connie Marshall, Jim Brandon, Emily Heller, Sierra Teller Ornelas, Brian C. Singleton, Bill Callahan, Zachary Rosenblatt

Starring: Christopher Meloni, Connor Buckley, Rachel Harris, Claudia Lee, Tyler Foden, Kevin Hernandez

Narrator: Kevin Rahm

Guest starring: Lili Reinhart, Thomas Kasp, Troy Romzek, Carter Sand, Damaris Diaz, Neil Flynn, Brett Gelman, Mark Berry

Oh network television, you are a cruel, cruel mistress. You allow a show like “Two and a Half Men” to stay on the air for years on end, despite the fact that the half man left because he realized how stupid and insipid the program was, but you cancel a show like “Surviving Jack” without ever even giving it a chance. A show with genuine wit and something to say about life that is real, “Surviving Jack” deserved a fighting chance. Instead it’s dumped into a spot without any ratings in the last quarter of the season and no one ever knows what they’re missing.

Based on a book by Justin Halpern, the guy who became famous with the Twitter feed “Shit My Dad Says”. The show is an autobiographical look at his high school years with Christopher Meloni playing the same father the Twitter feed, subsequent book and television series of the same name was based on. Meloni is much better in the role than William Shatner was in the previous series. Halpern was quite vocal in his distaste for the “Shit My Dad Says” show, which was much more of a traditional sit com. This was the show he wanted to make from his memoir.

Meloni is probably best known for his work on the long running show “Law & Order: SVU”. Most may not realize how gifted he is at comedy. He’s perfect in the role as the not-so-traditional hardnosed father. I was also very happy to see Rachel Harris get such a nice role. Harris has made a career of playing the witch of a girlfriend, and she’s very funny. I liked her as a very fitting wife for Meloni’s curmudgeonly dad. The kids were also wonderfully cast. I’m so sorry we don’t get to see more of this one.

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