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By Melissa Wun, for channel101.com.
The problem isn't that our new number one show is little more than a gay fantasy. The problem is that series creator Dan Harmon, who claims to be straight, has now made his 10th or so gay fantasy and is feeding it to the 101 audience as if it were something new.
How fitting, in fact, that Harmon's tired script, a transparent rehash of the FOX failure, Heat Vision and Jack, is called Computerman: here, Harmon is running the same old program, loading his bug-ridden, obsolete software into the most expensive hardware he could buy- actor Jack Black. One must pity Black for keeping such company on screen, but one must also admire the evil genius behind forcing a high profile celebrity into the title role, in order to distract us from the fact that once again, we're watching Dan Harmon fascinate himself with matters of the anus. Harmon, never known for his lack of self-awareness (and self indulgence), must have lunged for his one-card rolodex of famous names the minute he realized his blunt knife wasn't going to cut the mustard unless the edge was artificially sharpened.
By his side in Prime Time is Harmon's ever present partner in juvenility, Rob Schrab, who began his video career literally emerging from a closet to rape an infant in Baby Genius 2. Schrab barged into his Prime Time slot through his own familiar brand of manipulation: Hypnotizing his pie-eyed fan base by flashing his art school degree in another, completely redundant installment of Ringwald and Molly- which, rather than being an actual pilot, is simply a recreation of a product he'd tested and refined in the Super Midnight Movie show. The artistic high point of Schrab's latest 8th grade fever dream? A dog defecating.
The good news is, these two men are clearly running for cover. Why? Control of Channel 101 has been torn from the hairy palms of an elitist boy's club and given to the people, where it belongs. As a result, for the most part, 101's content has already matured.
The other prime time shows chosen by the people- women and minorities among them- were selected for their confidence and sensitivity. Chris Tallman's Time Belt is a refreshingly romantic story about a scientist driven by love across the known boundaries of the universe. Brently and Mrs. Gould centers around the touching, non sexual relationship between a young man and an older woman. Second Time Around, Channel 101's first and only dramatic series, manages to deal with mature themes in mature ways- another first.
Thankfully eliminated pilots included Chris Chauncey's sexist S.I.N. Patrol 2004, Sean Masterson's disturbing Nick Forrester: Psycho Cop- a show about his mangled penis-, Steve Agee's indescribably racist The White Mammy and the depressing, drug addled Will Mayer Show, which features no female cast members, opting instead to treat us to the image of a bird puppet copulating with a plastic bag.
The fact that, for the most part, the audience was unimpressed with plotless, vile ploys for their attention could be a sign that things are changing for the better. Then again, it might simply be the call to misadventure- a cue for Harmon, Schrab and their puerile gang of imitators to step up their shock and awe campagins, bombarding us with more ridiculous special effects, bigger names and grosser jokes. Perhaps Harmon and Schrab's desperate offerings are death rattles, or perhaps they're the rising cries of hungry babies. Only time can tell.
I'll see you at the next screening!
Melissa Wun is a TV critic and associate professor of cinematic studies at UCLA. This was written for the Channel 101 Website some years ago.