Snap judgment: 'Cavemen'

Cavemen_lIf I see one more new show about a guy who works in a big-box retail store, I’m going to scream. Cavemen, which debuted on ABC last night, has a protagonist who works in an Ikea-like furniture showroom called Nörskbild, which I suppose is a step up from the Best Buy-like Buy More where Chuck works on Chuck (next door to the Wal-Mart-like Large Mart), or the Home Depot-like Work Bench where Sam works on Reaper, or even the Kinko’s-like Copy Kingdom where Claire’s dad started working this season on Heroes. We get it: big-box stores are as soul-crushing as they are all-American. Let’s move on.

Here’s my one-grunt review of the Cavemen premiere: Ehh. (Look for an official, more sophisticated review from our critic in a forthcoming issue of EW.) There’s been a lot of talk about Cavemen as a racial allegory, but there’s really not much to chew on there. Joel (Bill English) is an assimilationist (the pilot’s plot hinged on his reluctance to tell his roomies that he’s dating a homo sapien), while Nick (Nick Kroll, pictured, right) is a proud separatist (fittingly, he’s also a grad student, with academia-bred politics). But the show seems to favor Joel’s position by default, since he’s a nice, smart guy, while Nick is pretty unlikable: he’s lazy, he’s a mooch, he’s pretentious, and he’s constantly undermining and taking advantage of his supposed friends, particularly Joel’s naive younger brother, Andy (Sam Huntington, left). On the other hand, as the designated sarcastic one (the David Spade character, if you will), Nick does get all the best lines. (Even so, the Nick character was funnier yesterday for a few minutes on The View, poking fun at creationist/flat-earther Sherri Shepherd, than during the whole Cavemen pilot.)

Still, for all the hand-wringing about fitting in, the cavedudes didn’t face much in the way of prejudice during the pilot — the closest thing was a handful of patronizing comments by a neighbor, cynical Realtor Leslie (Six Feet Under‘s Julie White, scene-stealingly funny). Excessive body hair aside, the cavemen aren’t that different from any other group of late-twentysomething guys. That may be the point, but it prompts the question: why, then, should we be interested in them or care about what happens to them?

addCredit(” Credit: Mitch Haddad”)

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  • liz

    I thought the Large Mart on Chuck was clearly Costco, with aisle setups and everything else. This was the most interesting thing about this atcile.

  • snarky

    I watched last night and really WANTED this show to be funny, but alas, I felt nothing – Meh. Sorry ABC. I tried.

  • Byron

    wow someone wathed it. I always figured ABC would jump out and say “PUNKED” before it actaully aired. My bad.

  • Credit

    I kept flipping to it while watching Beauty & the Geek only to see commercials. Given that B&tG had umpteen commercials in the first half hour, Cavemen must have been about 12 minutes long in total! Wow, cutting out all the racial humor, must have been a great show!

  • JR

    Boring article…maybe because I disagree. I thought the show was surprisingly funny, and that Nick being the lazy mooch was hilarious. I’m giving it another watch for sure.

  • Lesley

    Since I expected most people to say that the show was dreadful, ehh is actually a pretty good review.

  • Elle

    I thought I’d give the show a try. Five minutes in and I was picking lint off my sweater.
    If they were going to spin off a Geico commercial, the gekko would’ve been much more entertaining, I’m sure.

  • Stephanie T.

    I saw it for a few mins. then changed the channel. The show is dreadful. Carpoolers is not that bad, but it is not the writing that is at fault, it’s the acting which smells like twenty day old Jarlsberg. The best part was the guys were trying to find parking. Pretty much every single person has gone through a similar experience when it came to parking in a public lot.

  • Elizabeth

    Carpoolers was much more painful, but every show isn’t going to be good. Curious to see what else they might have up their sleeves – besides the excessive body hair. Actually, I’d like to see the frequently-mentioned Cave girls.

  • DanOregon

    The producers are playing it too safe. It looks like they’ve “caved” sorry for the pun, and have dialed back some of the potential humor the premise presents. I felt like I was watching one of those mid-season replacement shows NBC would throw on after Friends that failed miserably. Minus the body-hair of course.

  • Rod

    The store on Cavemen is clearly an Ikea.. un pronouncable Swedish furniture names and all.
    I read the reviews and watched the show anyway and surprising it wasn’t half bad. I agree that it’s lame to create a show based on a moderately funny string of commercials, but this show actually has potential as it can talk about real, 21st century racism using these safe, cartoony cavemen.

  • ronaldo

    I gave it 10 minutes, then had to turn away (to B and the G). Maybe it improved, but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out. While I haven’t seen a lot of the new shows, this has to be close to tops on the axe-list.

  • Rob

    ABC will probably break records with Cavemen…as in the record for the largest drop in viewship…after being so highly touted, Cavemen is going to cost many reviewers their credibility. Its as if the writers sat around thinking, hey, let’s take the GEICO commercials, remove all of the humor, hire bad actors and have them run on too long like a bad SNL skit. This doesn’t even go into the poor use of reworded racist jokes from 10 years ago. There was nothing even remotely orignial or humorous in this show. Death causes the loss of fewer brain cells than watching that drivel.

  • junior

    I’m glad Gary rose above the hype to see that in the long run “Cavemen” was no better or worse than any other middling show on TV (“Rules of Engagement,” anyone, anyone?) After an almost comical amount of negative press, I knew the show couldn’t be THAT bad, and it wasn’t. Julie White was hilarious (“Him: I’m Joel. Her: Really!?”), the original caveman and Nick Swardson’s cameos were welcome and the story was bland but bright. The production values were great as well, what, that counts.

  • junior

    p.s. if you want to talk about bad shows, talk about “Carpoolers.” The deadbeat son was funny but that was it.

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