Sit Down, Shut Up
Let’s face it, these days we’re all pretty busy and most of us work too damn hard. With so many channels and so many shows to choose from, it’s tough to decide just how best to invest your precious viewing time, especially with so many shows getting canned left and right just as they start to get good. With that in mind it’s occasionally nice when a show like Sit Down, Shut Up comes along and within two episodes announces itself as an unmitigated disaster that will be dead in a month and thus nothing you need to waste your time with. In fact due to low ratings Fox has already decided to move it out of its Animation Domination line-up (where it occupied the spot vacated by King of the Hill), a likely bi-product of the fact that it’s shit.
It comes as no surprise that this unfettered animated anarchy comes courtesy of Arrested Development’s Mitchell Hurwitz (who adapted the idea from an Australian network) as it’s so far out there it’s practically out of sight. But lacking the warm and fuzzy center of the relative normalcy that Arrested provided in the form of Jason Bateman and Michael Cera’s much despairing father/son duo around which the lunacy orbited it’s hard to know how to feel about Sit Down. Featuring animated characters set against photographed backgrounds the action takes place amidst the faculty and staff of a Florida high school. Seemingly pre-occupied with potty-humor and smut gags, the show has each broadly drawn stereotype introduces him or her self via a personnel file where they state there name (the likes of Miracle Grohe, Larry Littlejunk and Willard Deutschebog), and their catchphrase (one guy’s catchphrase is “I need a catchphrase!” – our sides!).
There’s actually a really talented voice cast working here, including AD’s Jason Bateman, along with Henry Winkler, Cheri Oteri, and Kristen Chenoweth. But even talent like that can’t overcome characters so one dimensional as a weedy P.E. teacher, a bible thumping science tutor, a porno-obsessed, oily German instructor and a gay guy who runs the performing arts deptartment. If that isn’t bad enough there is barely anything resembling a plot aside from some random, free-association pop culture references, which serve no purpose other than to highlight the show as a poor man’s Family Guy. The one genuinely funny character comes in the form of the Arabic custodian, Happy, whose angry, unintelligible grunts are translated into English by Tom Kenny, voice of Spongebob Squarepants. But really, when a little casual racism is the best thing you’re show has going for it, you know you’re in trouble.
While it’s set up is rife with intuitional politics just begging to be made fun of, Sit Down is topical but not timely – No Child Left Behind gags, really? Medicating pupils? These are jokes so old even Carlos Mencia wouldn’t bother stealing them. The show is also infuriatingly smug and self-referential with lines like “I hope this isn’t another misleading dream sequence,” and “Come on, we have to win this game. This is the pilot!” This is the kind of thing you do a couple of seasons in – you know, after maybe establishing a fan base or something. You don’t do it in the middle of your first episode. Still you can almost forgive them if only for the simple fact that they better get what they have out there while they can, because surely this is a show not long for this world.
Starring: Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Kristen Chenoweth, Will Forte, Tom Kenny, Nick Kroll, Cheri Oteri, Kenan Thompson, Henry Winkler
Created By: Mitchell Hurwitz
Original Air Date: 04/19/09 –