Bad Teacher: Thursdays at 9:30 on CBS
Last week, when discussing FX’s new take on Fargo, I brought up the fact that movie rehashes seem to be in vogue this year. However, what makes this year’s version seem considerably more different is that CBS, which tends to be more likely to stick to it’s own way of multi-cam comedies and procedurals seems considerably more game to jump in on these trends as it’s rating slowly descend back to earth. September’s Hostages was part of a cluster of hostage crises, January’s Intelligence was similar to ABC’s the assets, and tonight’s Bad Teacher is part of a string of movie adaptations we can expect to see over the next few months.
This version of Bad Teacher comes with a very fairly similar (if slightly more open ended) path of the original movie. Trophy wife Meredith Davis (Ari Graynor ) is kicked to the curb by her wealthy husband, and is forced to work as a middle school teacher while looking for a new sugar daddy. In this new world, she encounters a number of faculty members, including a stodgy faculty president (Kristin Davis )and a gym teacher from her past (Ryan Hansen) who show some skepticism about this new faculty member.
Typically, I find that CBS comedies tend to feel pretty monotonous in terms of their pacing, their jokes, and their styles. Instead, we get an interesting mix that combines zippy punchlines with a touch of surrealism and some great moments where Meredith goes on rants with much delusions of grandeur. For me the mixture was fairly reminiscent of a show like Sex and the City, with a bubbly tone that also carried a decent mix of snark to accompany it.
A large part of the credit goes to the amazing veteran cast the producers managed to assemble. Ari Graynor is a revelation as Davis, owning her character from minute one. Backing up Graynor are some formidable comedy veterans such as Kristin Davis (Sex and the City), Sara Gilbert (Roseanne), and David Alan Grier (In Living Color). We even get some extra support from Richard Kind, playing a close friend of Meredith’s who lets her crash in their guest house.
If there is one knock on the pilot, it’s in the storytelling. While I appreciate the fact that Bad Teacher did not draw out it’s origin story too long – it’s wrapped up before the credits begin – it also seemed to shoehorn in sitcom conventions a touch awkwardly. This was particularly notable when the show went to the “heart” moment in the third act, as it created the sort of emotional whiplash when one considers that a real bond was not well formed in the initial two acts.
The Final Verdict: While I was initially skeptical, I’ll be the first to admit that Bad Teacher is the most I’ve laughed at a CBS show aside from How I Met Your Mother. It’s a fast, fun, series that doesn’t try to occupy too much mind space (perfect for both the CBS lineup and 9:30 on a Thursday). Check it out, you won’t be disappointed with it.