This show is hands down the biggest disappointment of the fall season. Not just because it is awful, which it is, but because I actually had high hopes due to its pedigree, which I guess makes me a fool. I even hoped that the additions of Robert Michael Morris and David Cross would help improve the unfunny pilot I screened earlier this summer. But no such luck. They didn't make things worse, but throwing more Arrested Development alumni into the mix only exacerbates the differences between that clever show and this subpar mess.
Former Arrested Development gurus Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely put their heads together and the best they could apparently come up with was a story about a rich egomaniac and an annoyingly principled environmentalist. And they somehow thought that casting Gob and Felicity as romantic characters was a great idea. There's like a germ of an interesting concept here, but Keri Russell and Will Arnett are painfully awkward together.
The producers are clearly trying to recapture some of what made their previous show so wonderful, but this just feels watered down. There's narration, but instead of a judgmental Ron Howard, it's an earnest young girl. There's a self-involved rich person who likes to drink, but he's far too nice to be Gangy. Instead of a rich guy on a Segway, here he's riding a tiny horse. Granted, the tiny horse is kind of the best thing about the show. But a treehouse is a poor substitute for a banana stand. And a sycophantic nanny is in no way as wonderful as a one-handed mother-worshiping son.
I suppose that there is a small chance that this show could improve, though with Keri Russell's character Emmy being so gratingly irksome, it seems unlikely. At least Michael Bluth was a likeable sort the majority of the time. There really needs to be someone human on this show -- someone who isn't totally a caricature -- and if that person is supposed to be the young Puddle, then she needs to be seen more often, and not just so food can be shoved into her face as a sight gag.
But honestly, even if David Cross's eco-terrorist decides that he wants to join the Blue Man Group instead of hanging out in the Amazon, and even if Puddle does become Michael (or at the very least George Michael), and even if Arnett and Russell magically develop chemistry, and even if the show somehow finds its groove and becomes laugh-out-loud funny and worthy of being watched over and over again on DVD, it will still be too late to save it. The superbly absurd Arrested Development had a hard time surviving on Fox and that series had the support of critics and a small, but loyal group of fans. This show hasn't exactly been well received by the TV community, and while the ratings aren't out yet, I'm guessing that the AD fans who had their fingers crossed that this would be their new must-quote show will likely tune out after a few episodes. Hard to believe how this show won't wind up getting cancelled by Fox by the end of the season... if not before. And this time, I can't really say that I'll blame them.
Did you watch Running Wilde? What did you think? And don't forget to check out our entire Fall preview!
Watch TWoP's editors discuss this fall's worst new TV shows in this segment airing on the New York Nonstop cable news channel:
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