FX has been pulling few punches over the last few years. Ever since It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia affixed them in the realm of solid programming, they’ve begun to produce more than their fair share of hits. The sad truth though is that for every Archer there’s always a chance that a yawn-fest like Unsupervised will make it through to the air. Unsupervised may have some legitimate talent behind the scenes, with writers and actors picked out of already successful shows. But its pilot, which should put the very best jokes and comedic timing on a pedestal, is devoid of material and perhaps too juvenile for the typical FX crowd.
The most obvious problems these cartoon comedies run into early on involve the amount of cash spent on acting talent instead of writing or advertising. It’s great to see names like Kristen Bell and Justin Long in the credits, but similar to the failed Sit Down, Shut Up, Unsupervised suffers from the fact that it’s simply a cartoon. Voice quality should always be chosen above fame for these instances, so we don’t get strange pairings like Bell with her character Megan. Megan is supposed to be a geeky high school girl with braces, yet her gangly appearance doesn’t mesh with Bell’s strong voice. Long and co-star David Hornsby are the only two who really seem at home here as Gary and Joel respectively. Their vocal work shines with adolescent immaturity and energy, making the two leads probably the only real reason so far to watch the show.
There’s a little ray of light here amid the dust when the two play off each other, which could possibly foster into a humorous combo post-pilot if they get the chance. Gary lives at home with a step-mom who’s never around, and Joel’s parents are too old to care about anything he does; and that right there’s the entire concept of the show, which is a bit refreshing. A lot of these high school dramas seem to need a big premise or catch, but the idea of two kids who never have supervision is actually fairly interesting. The greatest problem with the pilot is that there’s really nobody else to make this concept pull through. There’s a Mexican neighbor who reeks of unfunny stereotypes and an Australian neighbor who…actually, he also reeks of unfunny stereotypes too. There’s a crazy guy who’s got potential but whose lines also never seem to reach the type of insanity that’s actually super-funny. Add a few generic high school types and you probably understand the rest of the show pretty well.
The ruling for now though is to hold off on Unsupervised. It’s all high concept and little execution. The funniest parts are the ones that break paradigms of the genre immediately when a character gets lucky or cares about real-world worries. They’re rare occasions, but they show enough hope to say “hold off” without saying “give up.” Chances are we’ll get to a mid-season or full season review once its run ends, and we’ll let you know if FX should keep this already dragging comedy or not. My guess? No season two unless things change quickly.