TV Review | Producing Parker

Producing Parker (TVtropolis: starts May 4, 8:30 PM ET/PT) was one of two shows originally scheduled to debut on E! this spring.  It and Carlawood later moved to TVtropolis, as E! will no longer be a network in the near future.

Producing Parker could actually succeed for TVtropolis.  Unlike Carlawood, Producing Parker has a few things going for it – a point, comedy, Kim Cattrall, one of the stars of Young People Fucking and Peter Keleghan.

The show is almost too good for TVtropolis, unless Canwest is making an effort to build the channel up.  Of course, TVtropolis added Bob & Doug to its lineup recently.  I expect both Bob & Doug and Producing Parker to be rerun seven times a week.  It’s the TVtropolis way.

I’m not sold on Kristin Booth as Parker Kovak, the producer of The Dee Show (although she isn’t credited as such until the end of the first episode.)  It’s not that Booth’s voice is bad, it’s just that Kovak as a character is generic – she wants a man, is career-oriented and keeps the show from going pear-shaped.  Booth imitates Tina Fey, but Fey is more multifaceted and has Alec Baldwin to bounce jokes off.

In fact, almost all of Producing Parker‘s characters are generic.  Simon (Aaron Abrams) is the wannabe reporter slumming on daytime television.  Blake Bellamy (Peter Keleghan) is the good-looking yet oblivious head of Bellamy Broadcasting.  Chicago (Sarah Cornell) is the ditzy, unqualified intern.  Massimo (Jamie Watson) is the talking dog/stand-in for the man Kovak wants.  Producing Parker does try to make its characters three-dimensional, but they’re placeholders for gags at this point.

Kim Cattrall is Dee, the superego of a talk show host.  She’s bitchy, temperamental and trend-conscious.  Cattrall sells Dee, displaying quite a bit of emotional range.  Considering how one-dimensional Dee could have been, Cattrall manages to make her more than an over-the-hill celebrity figure.  It’s really because of Cattrall, Cornell and Keleghan that Producing Parker works as well as it does.

The main problem with Producing Parker is that it’s shrill and a bit shallow.  The Newsroom and Made in Canada were more biting looks at television behind the scenes.  Producing Parker‘s traditional Simpsons-style gags work only some of the time, but at least they work.  Producing Parker isn’t nearly as unfunny as Punch! and The Wrong Coast, but that should be a given.

Producing Parker‘s animation is fairly well done.  While I’d like to see more traditionally animated Canadian cartoons, PP is a much better Flash effort than shows like Total Drama Action and Bob & Doug.  There’s a concerted effort to pace and animate the show so that the tweening is less noticeable, although Producing Parker still looks like a Flash cartoon.

Producing Parker isn’t on the level of 30 Rock or The Larry Sanders Show, but it’s a modest success.  I can see Breakthrough Films and Television selling this to America on the strength of Cattrall’s name, which makes me wonder why Producing Parker didn’t debut on Global.  Compared to Bob & Doug, Producing Parker has a much better sense of what it is and isn’t trading on familiarity.  Bob & Doug is dredging 200,000+ viewers a week, so I can see the two shows flip within two to three weeks.

C. Archer
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