THE WINNER created by Seth MacFarlane and Ricky Blitt, with Rob Corddry, Keir Gilchrist and Erinn Hayes. Sundays at 8:30 pm on Fox. Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN
The bald, boyish and perpetually befuddled Rob Corddry - he resembles a dashing young Elmer Fudd, sans shotgun - is the latest Daily Show correspondent to headline his own sitcom.
But just a couple of episodes into The Winner, a title that makes for easy mockery, it's painfully obvious that Corddry is better suited to delivering fake late-night news than prime-time punchlines. To put it bluntly - and to end further comparisons - Corddry is no Steve Carell.
Not that he isn't above borrowing a few ideas from the more successful graduate of Jon Stewart's show. The Winner casts Corddry as Glen, a 32-year-old virgin who still lives with his parents in 1994, which unfortunately leads to lame O.J.
Simpson jokes and tasteless references to Hervé Villechaize's suicide.
While the series is set at the precise moment Corddry's unambitious loser decides to turn his life around and "begin my adolescence," which also happens to be the precise moment his unrequited childhood crush, now a hot if vapid single mom, moves in next door, voice-over narration by Corddry from the present tells us his character is now happily married with children and the wealthiest man in Buffalo.
Call it an Arrested Development Wonder Years (Corddry has even referred to The Winner as "The Wonder Years with vagina jokes"), but without the former's fearless commitment to its own absurdities or the latter's nostalgic charm and sentimentality.
Not that The Winner doesn't occasionally pay off with a chuckle or two. As he demonstrated on the Daily Show, Corddry is a convincing man-child, a mix of infantile naíveté and teenage horniness that swings between silly, stupid and kind of icky.
The ick factor is particularly amped by Glen's budding friendship with Josh, the equally awkward 14-year-old son of Glen's would-be girlfriend. He's even asked at one point if he's a pedophile.
While Glen becomes Josh's de facto male role model, he's not above admitting that he's "never fornicated a woman," prior to having dinner with Josh's hot mom. It's easy to see how Carell could have mined the moment for a laugh, but in Corddry's hands what should have been an innocent confession becomes a bit creepy.
THE SHOWBIZ SHOW created by Hugh Fink and David Spade, with Spade. Thursdays at 10 pm on the Comedy Network. Premieres March 15. Rating: NN
It's probably true that most stars don't read their own press, good, bad or otherwise. David Spade is not one of them.
I know this because I once wrote that the greasy little skeezix looked like Macaulay Culkin strung out on crack. I soon heard from Spade's "people" that he was a little pissed and wanted an apology. I told 'em to pound sand, cuz if anyone should feel insulted it was Culkin.
So I'm admitting up front that I'm not a fan of Spade. Can't stand 'im, really. Black Sheep was funny, but it was all Chris Farley. Ditto Tommy Boy. As for his sitcom work, well, Just Shoot Me! pretty much sums up how I feel about any of it.
Now Spade is returning with the third season of The Showbiz Show. Inspired by his scathing yet smarmy Hollywood Minute segments from his Saturday Night Live days - which were actually a highlight of that era's Weekend Update, come to think of it - the series gives Spade an opportunity to cut loose on celebrity culture à la Kathy Griffin's My Life On The D-List.
The problem is that Spade is clinging hard to the C-list and clawing at the Bs. For example: "Lindsay Lohan was involved in a traffic accident. Police later cited her for weighing 85 in a 30 zone." Ba-dump-bump!
It's material that wouldn't be out of place in a Leno monologue. But while it's hardly acidic, it does leave a bad aftertaste.
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
Thursday, March 8
GENERATION XXL (Documentary) Exploring the dilemma of our overweight youth by following four teens at fat camp. 8 pm on CBC
Monday, March 12
CORNER GAS (Comedy) Stephen Harper, Seamus O'Regan, Beverly Thomson and Rosemary Thompson guest star in the season finale. 8 pm on CTV