Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sneak Preview: Hollywood Residential

Are you a fan of single-camera comedies? Does the idea of combining Extras, MTV Cribs, and Home Improvement sound intriguing to you? If so, Starz has a new half-hour series called Hollywood Residential, premiering January 23rd, that you should definitely check out.

The show follows Tony King (Adam Paul), a wannabe actor and terrible handyman who hosts a celebrity home makeover show with his new, far more talented co-host, Lila (Lindsey Stoddart). Numerous power tool mishaps, awkward attempts at self-promotion, and hilarious celebrity guest spots ensue.

Tony definitely falls under the "buffoon lacking in self-awareness" umbrella, like a toned-down Michael Scott, but with more physical comedy. Throw in some easily-annoyed celebrities (such as Tom Arnold, Carmen Electra, and John Cho, all playing themselves), plus an impressive pedigree with Cheryl Hines serving as an executive producer, and you've got yourself some laugh-out-loud funny stuff. As starved as we are for scripted television these days, a new single-camera comedy with a concept as funny as Hollywood Residential's seems like a godsend.

The episode I saw, which will air sixth, features Chris Kattan as Tony and crew remodel his kitchen. Chris hooks Tony up with an audition for Chris's latest movie, a drama for which he's also an associate producer, with predictably disastrous results. I use the word "predictable," but the show actually manages to steer clear of the formulaic landmine that lies in its concept--each episode seems to go someplace new, or move the arc along. The only predictability lies in Tony's ineptness.

I also love that the show leaves room for improvisation in its filming. Apparently, they do a couple takes of the scripted version of each scene, and then a couple takes where the actors can really let loose. With stars and guest stars adept at improvising, this only leads to good things. Also, I have to give a shout-out to the theme song, "Add it Up," by the Violent Femmes, since it's insanely awesome.

Will Hollywood Residential be able to replace The Office, or our other beloved single-camera shows that aren't airing right now? Of course not. Could it maybe use some polishing around the edges, or be a bit more subtle? Sure. But it's a clever concept perfectly cast with Adam Paul, and I'd definitely recommend checking out the first episode (which will feature Paula Abdul, who seems to be surprisingly good at making fun of herself) to see for yourself. Especially if you tend to like single-camera comedies as well as good physical comedy (a somewhat rare combination, now that I think about it). Hollywood Residential premieres Wednesday, January 23rd at 10:30 PM on Starz.

Here's a quick preview, though it's definitely more slapstick-y than much of the humor on the show:


Anonymous said...

He doesn't seem funny to me. It looks desperate.

Liz said...

He's desperate, but the show didn't strike me that way. And it's really not a representative clip--it's just the only embeddable one they have.

That said, tastes differ, so you might not find it funny like I did, obviously.