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Saturday, April 26, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: Bad Teacher

BAD TEACHER












Starring: Ari Graynor, Sara Gilbert, Ryan Hansen, Sara Rodier, with Kristin Davis, and David Alan Grier

Developed for television by Hilary Winston, Based on characters created by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky
Written by Hilary Winston, Directed by Don Scardino

Bad Teacher is a new sitcom based on the hit 2011 movie starring Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake. The watered-down sitcom version has a similar premise but a little more suitable to network television and a continuing series. Trophy wife Meredith Davis (Ari Graynor) has just been through a divorce and is looking for a new rich husband. Despite a complete lack of qualifications, she takes a job at a school with lots of rich and single dads thanks to a friend's daughter (Sara Rodier). Rounding out the main cast is other school staff members: the emotionally unstable principal Carl Gaines (David Alan Grier), uptight enemy of Meredith's, Ginny (Kristin Davis), nerdy Irene (Sara Gilbert), and easygoing gym teacher Joel (Ryan Hansen).

THE GOOD: The absolute best part of this show is Ari Graynor. I haven't seen the movie so I can't compare her to Cameron Diaz, but I thought she was genuinely funny and entertaining in this show. Her comedic timing was top notch, especially in her speech during the Job Day when she's called out for faking her resume and when she is trying to get to the bottom of how many cars are in a boy's garage. Her character is nothing more than a caricature and she probably could have given it a little more depth, but on the surface level it was very funny. There were other small moments that were very funny too including the introduction of Ginny's student teacher. This was nothing but fluff but it did make me laugh.

THE BAD: Given that I am a teacher, I always have problems when schools are not depicted accurately. I'm not saying they can't poke fun at a school, because they certainly can. But how Meredith got and kept her job seems a little far-fetched with her behavior and lack of qualifications, and I have a hard time accepting the premise because of that. This must be how firefighters feel about Chicago Fire. The worst member of the ensemble is Sara Gilbert, who is trying WAY too hard here. I know her character is supposed to be annoying, but she should be annoying to other characters not the viewers. She can do better than this and I groaned every time she opened her mouth during the pilot. I came close to saying the same thing about David Alan Grier.

BOTTOM LINE: Bad Teacher felt much more like an ABC show than a CBS show. I don't think it will last very long but I thought the humor and Ari Graynor were strong enough for the show to have a solid foundation. It could also be a one trick pony but if Graynor can give her character some depth to match her humor, this could be a really fun show.

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