I really wanted to like this.
When the show was first announced last year, it had so much going for it. It seemed like a promising candidate to be a successor of strong NBC primetime comedies like “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” Community” and “30 Rock.” The star is Glenn Howerton, co-creator and one of the stars of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” one of my favorite shows and one of the most consistent and testing comedies of the 21st century. The costar is Patton Oswalt, famed comedian and former “MadTV” writer. It was co-created by Lorne Michaels, the creator of “Saturday Night Live” and Seth Myers, one of Michaels’ SNL offspring and “Late Night” host.
The premise is a “School of Rock”-esque setting, where Howerton plays an out-of-luck Harvard philosophy scholar “teaching” A.P Bio in Toledo, a role where I expected Howerton’s brazen confidence to shine through, as it has for 12 seasons in “It’s Always Sunny.” Everything about this show seemed great, but then the first trailer dropped and it looked like another one of those generic comedies that are lowering network TV further into its coffin. Was I wrong? Did I get bamboozled by the glossy cast and crew into thinking this show was something special?
I hate to say it, but yes. This show is frustratingly mediocre.
I’ll start with the good, because there is some. Howerton does well, even with the shoddy lines he’s given. As I said earlier, I wasn’t worried going into “A.P. Bio” about his individual acting: I’ve seen too much of him as Dennis, his character in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” to doubt that. Also, the concept in general is decent. It’s been pulled off before. That’s about it, as much as it pains me to say.
The thing that really gets to me about most primetime comedies like “A.P. Bio” is the lack of subtlety. I understand that in a 30-minute pilot (19 minutes without commercials), you have to fit in as much exposition as you can. But could you at least make it smooth? At least make an effort, please.
The high school kids’ acting mostly sucks, but I expected that. All the quality underage actors have scampered off network TV to Netflix and HBO. Also, there is a recurring backroom “segment” of sorts with three female teachers that is strangely executed, and by the end of each of these segments I almost felt compelled to laugh, like the show was begging me to please laugh, just once.
Worst of all, at a time where overt, often creepy sexual humor has become a big no-no in the entertainment industry, “A.P. Bio” chose to make it the crux of its pilot. That might have been okay when the show was greenlit in early 2017, but after the recent Hollywood revelations, I can’t understand why it wasn’t tweaked.
So, yeah, I’m disappointed. Will I watch the rest of the season when it returns after the Winter Olympics? Probably not. Class dismissed. 2/5
Daniel Cohn is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.