Monday, December 08, 2008

New Show "Testees" Gets an F

A week or two ago I was flipping through the channels one night and stumbled upon "Testees", the newest offering from Showcase. This was indeed a stumble, but unlike a smart man, I didn't get up and walk away. No, figuring I'd support a new Canuck show and one that had the potential for SF overtones through its wacky inventions, I stuck around for about half of it. 15 minutes of my life I won't be getting back, and not a mistake I'm going to make twice.

Created by Kenny Hotz of "Kenny vs Spenny" fame, the story concerns 2 losers who get paid to be lab rats for a facility working with experimental drugs and products. Hilarity is supposed to ensue. Allegedly.

The episode I saw part of had the pair testing out a supercharged pheromone perfume that was supposed to attract members of the opposite sex. The substance backfires, however, in that it fails to attract pretty young women, instead, driving older women (and we're not talking about cougars here, we're talking late 50's and up and not easy on the eyes) mad. Worse, it turns them into mindless zombies (not literally undead, but obviously zombie-like) bent on screwing the protagonists at all costs. The show descends into a mock zombie apocalypse. That's the point where I turned it off.

Now, I'm not going to go off on a tangent about how awful the show is because it's demeaning to older women. I'm sure others have done that, and rightly so.

I don't have a problem with shows that indulge in politically incorrect humour. When it's well done, and when its wit is actually smart and making a point about something the audience is supposed to give some thought to, it can work quite well. "Southpark" is a prime example of how a TV show can revel in politically incorrect humour for years on end and just get better and better - not because of its raunchiness or nastiness, but in spite of it - because it's smart.

There was nothing smart about this episode of "Testees". The show itself was a zombie, shuffling along, mindlessly flailing about in an effort to sink its teeth into an unsuspecting audience and hopefully strike a funny bone. Didn't work though. Its attempts at humour fell flat and crumpled in upon themselves in a rotting, stinking heap best avoided.

The other crime committed by Hotz's abomination is that it's unoriginal (at least this episode was). Perfumes that drive the opposite sex wild, causing a stampede of human flesh forcing the wearer to flee for his/her life? Didn't they do that in "Love Potion #9" with Sandra Bullock? Now that's scraping the bottom of the barrel! And the notion of making a zombie apocalypse funny is nothing new either. "The Simpsons" has done it on at least one of their Hallowe'en episodes, "Sean of the Dead" raked in a lot of praise a few years ago, there are a lot of fans of the "Evil Dead" movies, and the list goes on. The only reason for "Testees" to tread on this already well-worn ground would be to put a new spin on the zombie attack or to pay homage to that form of movie. Neither was the case.

Because it wasn't original or smart, "Testees" ended up failing in its attempt to be funny.

Sure, some of you may argue that I should have stuck it out for the last 15 minutes to see if it redeemed itself, and maybe you're right. But I doubt it. You don't get halfway through a train wreck like that only to have Superman come swooping in to save the day at the last minute. And certainly you could argue that it's unfair to judge a series based on one bad show. But first impressions do count, and it seems to me that even sitting around contemplating my own bellybutton lint would be a better use of time than giving "Testees" a second chance. Or giving it more time on this blog, for that matter.
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