More out of morbid curiosity than anything else, I tuned in tonight for the series premiere of Cavemen. I’m already on record as saying this show was a bad idea, but I gave it a shot anyway. And speaking totally objectively it’s…well, it’s not good. As I feared, they completely failed to capture the vibe of the original Geico commercials, which was as critical to their success as the basic premise.
So what went wrong? Well for starters, the makeup was bad. In a puzzling move, the cavemen have perfect white teeth (the ones in the commercials have choppers more like Austin Powers). They looked less like ancestral man and more like twentysomethings with really bad grooming.
Then there’s the more puzzling change of the cavemens’ jobs. Rather than the urban sophisticates the commercials portrayed them as, they are now middle class schlubs (one works in an Ikea-like furniture store). Apart from the opening party scene (which was very reminiscent of the commercials), gone is the sense of snooty style mingled with righteous indignation. Big mistake. Having a Cro-Magnon Frasier could be funny. Having a Cro-Magnon King of Queens is lame right out of the box. Because then what’s the difference, other than the bad makeup?
A lot of the jokes fell flat, particularly when the writers attempted to fabricate caveman culture. I doubt we’ll be seeing the lines “crave the cave” or “keep your penis in your genus” on a t-shirt anytime soon. However, even great sitcoms aren’t great right away. Not that this will ever be one, but I have to be fair.
That all said, I couldn’t stop watching. And God help me, I may watch again. Of course that has more to do with the fact that there’s nothing else on Tuesday nights until House starts than with any redeeming qualities of the show. And since Cavemen will probably get 86’d in a few weeks it’s not like I’m making a huge commitment.
But hey, even if they only make it to the second episode they outdid that Heather Graham show, so they got that going for them.
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