Like most fictional universities portrayed in hopeful comedies about the unparalleled excitement of youth, Hayes University is unlike any institution of higher learning anyone has actually ever encountered. At this college that serves as the setting for TBS' new hour-long comedy, Glory Daze, arrogant professors take up valuable class time to humiliate their students, everyone wears sunglasses in the hallways, beautiful girls bounce around campus in polka-dot bikinis, and the freshman dorm rooms, which the characters sarcastically describe as "palatial,” could entirely encompass approximately four of the postage-stamp rooms that serve as the actual site of most everyone’s college experience.
Glory Daze follows five friends just entering their freshman year at Hayes, each of whom embodies a different college stereotype. There’s Jason, the Young Republicans activist (Drew Seeley); Brian, the conflicted athlete (Hartley Sawyer); Alex, the sheltered Asian kid (Tim Jo); Eli, the exuberant class clown (Matt Bush); and finally our hero, Joel (Kelly Blatz), the responsible nice guy who nobly vows to keep up his grades while pursuing the first pretty girl he sees, even if she is dating the president of the fraternity he’s trying to join. The outset of the boys’ college adventure is filled with such “typical” activities as attending house parties, pledging frats, doing keg stands from unrealistically sophisticated and expensive contraptions, hobnobbing with pothead super-seniors who enjoy guru status, and bragging about their sexual prowess. Amid these tepid, mediocre adventures, the newfound friends struggle with girl troubles – from crushing on sexy professors and hitting on slutty coeds to keeping high-maintenance girlfriends happy and courting unrealistic partners.
The mediocrity, staleness, and predictability of the show’s premise requires a supremely charming cast to pull it off, which Glory Daze falls just short of delivering. It’s clear that the cast is intended to be fresher and funnier than they come across, as each character’s personality is meant to showcase a different comedic style. Not a single main character surpasses the particular stereotype he’s doomed to portray, and even though they all elicit an occasional laugh, they end up being more irritating than they are endearing. This is definitely more the fault of simple writing than poor acting – there’s nothing wrong with these guys’ performances; they just need a bit more to work with than jokes about beer, marijuana, and bodily functions.
At least Glory Daze doesn’t waste the few brilliant lines it manages to come up with. Tim Meadows, who plays the irreverent, unpredictable, and depressive Professor Haines, gets the show’s best jokes and lends a pitch-perfect delivery to each one. His character, who is so emotionally ripped up by his failing marriage that he can’t stop himself from constantly talking about it, even going so far as to segue into the topic during his class lectures, is perhaps the only reason to watch. If he doesn’t start getting more screen time, however, there’s not going to be much to sustain this new TBS comedy.