I am fascinated by the sitcom Just Shoot Me. Assuming nobody has seen it (because nobody in their right mind would), it used to be on quite early on Channel 4, round about the time my wife was making the kids lunches, and I would see a few minutes every day, magnetised by its unparalleled, jaw-dropping uselessness. Now theyve started showing it again, I can only imagine to make the episodes of Frasier which follow it (from the later, weaker series) seem like comedic masterclasses in comparison.
I am fairly critical when it comes to comedy, sitcoms in particular, but the scale of ineptitude on display in Just Shoot Me would exasperate even the least demanding viewer. It has a decent cast, but I suspect that perhaps this is part of the problem. Maybe they spent so much on the actors that when it came to scriptwriters they could only afford the bottom of the barrel. Because its not simply that Just Shoot Me isnt funny, its the nature of its unfunniness that is unique. It has the rhythm and structure of comedy, but without any of the humour.
Take, for example, a set-up I saw yesterday morning. One of the characters was supposed to have bought a lottery ticket on behalf of his boss but hadnt, and it had turned out to be a winner. To get out of this jam he had bought a ticket subsequently, and had primed an associate to walk in on him presenting it to the boss, the sudden entrance somehow causing the fake ticket to blow out of the window. Now, my problem is not with the set-up, hackneyed though it is great writing can salvage even the most familiar scenario. But if your staging is tired, you really need to nail the gag. Heres how it played out. The woman outside was supposed to storm in when she heard him say Its your lucky day. It was obvious that she wouldnt, with which the writers had made another rod for their backs with the predictable turn of events already anticipated, the ensuing joke needed to be even stronger. The chap in the office stood there saying Its your lucky day, its your LUCKY DAY, but nobody came in, and the scene cut to the woman waiting outside the office for her cue. And the pay-off? Her repeating to herself When he says Marvin Gaye, when he says Marvin Gaye.
As a punchline it lacks either of the fundamentals, credibility or wit. Its not funny because nobody would ever be told to listen out for lucky day and think they were supposed to be listening for Marvin Gaye, and its not funny because theres nothing funny about the name Marvin Gaye per se. The joke makes no sense, and it doesnt compensate for making no sense by being amusing. Its just a limp, feeble line plonked at the end of a weary build-up.
Its possible I think too hard about stuff like this. What I am trying to say is, Just Shoot Me is rubbish.