My fall review season has begun, and first on the block is Jim Carrey’s terribly named “Kidding”. He basically plays a Mr. Rogers-like host of a kids show as Mr. Pickles, complete with testimony before Senate Committees, etc. When I read the basic description, about Jim Carrey doing a show about him and his family life, I assumed it was going to be a comedy. Jim would play the dad, never quite get the hang of life, but he’d be a lovable goof with a good heart, blah blah blah.
Based on that info, my prediction for the season was that it would be CANCELLED. It just didn’t seem to have anything particularly to hook me. Now that I’ve watched the premiere, it is BEYOND bad.
First, it isn’t really a comedy. There are some bits, comedic in a stand-back and see how spoofy that scene is kind of way, a kid show host who is really just like his character. He plays it straight, as he should.
Second, it is super dark. The premise, spoiler alert, is that his son died one year before in a car crash and ever since, his home life has been slowly falling apart. His wife is divorcing him and has a new BF, his daughter is acting out, there’s a bunch of sad dysfunctional crap with co-workers, and just for fun, he wants to do a “healing” show about death.
Ever see some scene in any show where they ratchet up the awkward? Where the character is so pathetic that the audience is cringing the longer the scene goes on? That they feel the angst and the crushing blow that is to come — the pretty girl who crushes the misguided nerd who thought he had a chance, not realizing she has no clue at all that he has feelings for her, since she has a boyfriend and at most, she considers the nerd in the friend zone. But the scene is drawn out, and you literally start to feel uncomfortable watching it?
Well, Kidding has taken this premise, and turned it into a season-long train wreck. There are about 3 scenes in the whole premiere that are designed to be lighter, but they fall completely flat. It’s just depressing to watch. I don’t know, maybe a laugh track would help in a few places to let the audience know it’s okay to breathe for a moment.
I can’t see a single reason to watch this, and the EP ended with some forward scenes that make me think Jim Carrey is like a slow-burning fuse that’s going to explode in violence at some point, taking it from an awkward train wreck to something dark and disturbing.
The only thing in the entire episode that I thought was interesting to see was his boss, Seb, played by Frank Longella. Frank is amazing, I almost always love him. He’s relatively muted as a character, the sober companion trying to tell Mr. Pickles that the show is a business, and the personal life is something totally separate that Jeff should go and deal with. Where have you seen Longella? In tons of stuff, with some 100 credits going back to ’65. Not always big roles, but great small ones, like Perry White in Superman Returns. Sure, he got an Oscar nomination for Frost/Nixon (he played Nixon), but I love the smaller stuff.
But it isn’t enough to save the show. Still predicting CANCELLED.