By Nicusor Ciumacencu — Ted Danson has a new TV show. It’s highly advertised, with banners all over Los Angeles, and that creates the impression that it was much awaited. After coming into eye contact with one of those big, lit billboards along every major boulevard, I watched the promo too.

I was curious and being a little fan of Ted’s, I had expectations.

In the quick preview, Ted as Neil Bremer, Mayor of Los Angeles, seems to be the same Ted in real life. Even the suit looked to be his. I also found his glasses unchanged since our brief encounter not long ago. This made me think there are some cost cuts due to the pandemic still wrapping us tight.

He is a looker, nonetheless.

And as the first episode began, I remembered my George Costanza moment from about a year ago, the moment when I saw Mr. Danson’s glasses. I was his server at a high-end charity dinner and he asked for the restroom. I stood in front of him and just like George in that TV show about nothing, Seinfeld, I wished I made as much money as Ted. And while I answered his query and, subsequently, offered to walk him to the restroom and he said “I got it,” I also wished I traded my age of almost 30 years younger to his 70-something; so that I could live, at least, a few years of Ted instead of another 40 or so like this, like nothing.

Mr. Mayor is hysterical but not hysterically funny. In fact, I could only watch about 20 minutes. I turned it off and I know I’ll never go back to it.

There was hardly any sane moment during that 20-minute adventure. Hard to figure out what and where and perhaps why too. The show starts with a chaotic first day at the office and it doesn’t take much to realize the unorganized business happening at the Los Angeles City Hall.

This is supposed to be funny, but to one living in the city and seeing nothing done for years with the numerous and paramount issues, you almost think Ted might do a better job as mayor than whoever is there now.

Mr. Bremer, a former billboard tycoon, is all over the place: He has little expertise on things, is by far the least qualified person to run the city, but he won due to a very low presence at the polls. And there he is beginning his job with a ban on plastic straws because Los Angeles has no problems to resolve.

Oh, and everybody yells, screams, and curses to make his/her point clear. Frustration and anger reign in every sentence. If a minute has gone by without a conversation that begins with “WHY,” never fear. You won’t have long to wait. It’s coming. It’s the whole “WHY” world.

This is not new. Hollywood, as of late, believes in yelling more and more. There is yelling in Schitt’s Creek and in pretty much any show in the past 10 years. I call it lack of creativity but it is neuroticism in full view.

It is easy to realize that this is not going to be a meaningful story and it’s sad that this is on purpose. The jokes rely heavily on your liberal behavior of largely approving and saying amazing because you’re just supportive at this stage and are not interested in judging the quality thoroughly. Something like: “What do you think about the show? Oh, it’s great, I enjoy it. You guys are doing an amazing job. And to think that this is happening during a pandemic year, it’s such an achievement you could manage to be funny. So funny.

Wanting more, I realized it is increasingly hard to write a scene with some decent sense, subtleness, gist. It’s a trend in present scriptwriting. Since about the rise of social media (correct me if I am wrong). I’m starting to think that it might be hard to rediscover that sense and gist in sitcom-making, and so I wonder how might that be? How Mr. Mayor could’ve looked otherwise?

It might be worth looking back at Cheers for example, the ‘80s/90s TV series that consecrated Ted. How was humor back then? More subdued, less yelling, slower in all respects and that was a good thing. It was giving you time to absorb a sentence, a gesture, a grimace, and all the little things that were part of a pun.

The word “why” was not so often used. And generally, it would take a lot longer for a joke to develop, which means you had to watch, to stay connected. These days a joke is no longer elaborate, it’s a five-second thing. You missed it? That’s okay, because there’s another one coming; also, five seconds long. In the meantime, the prime mission of Hollywood has come to be to not keep you waiting.

Well, we didn’t have social media back then during Cheers years. And of the big five personality traits, conscientiousness was yet the dominant one in our society: though losing ground fast.

My only hope is that there has been a complete overhaul after the 20 minutes I watched, and the story has grown like a normal, productive, emotionally mature adult and not one you can predict is going to fall prey to vices like alcoholism. I mean internet addiction.

* * *

Mr. Mayor airs Thursday nights on NBC

(Featured image courtesy of NBC)


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