November 23, 2004

Plight of the Fabricated American

Fox, as a network, is a mixed bag - for every hit, there's a show that they've either neglected, never understood, or even nurtured. The list of the latter is too numerous - Get a Life, Firefly, Family Guy, the live action The Tick, and my personal favorite...Greg the Bunny.

From the start, this show began differently, as the theme song stated:

"Well, we sing and dance,
And we don't wear pants,
See we're just like you...
We got regular jobs,
Just with low door knobs,
And we're just like you"

It was a show that was, according to the creators, supposed to be "Larry Sanders with puppets" - what it turned into was a surreal comedy that attempted to place characterization over gags.

The show centered around a bunny named Greg, who lived with his best friend Jimmy (Seth Green, who should get an Oscar just for existing), and who managed (in the pilot) to land a job at Sweetknuckle Junction, a show produced by Jimmy's father Gil (Eugene Levy, former SCTV castmember and now American Pie Guy). Greg finds himself working with several strange characters, including Count Blah (imagine Sesame Street's count with Bela Lugosi's past), the egotistical Warren Demontague (an ape with an almost Shatnerian ego), the spacey Dottie (Dina Waters, aka my future ex-wife), Tardy Turtle ("Crayons taste like purple") and the slightly scary Junction Jack (Bob Gunton).

Unlike many comedies, this show was daring in a way that not even the Muppets were able to get away with. Now, with a two-DVD collection of the entire series, you can see the mixture of typical sitcom set-up-and-punch with the unique atmosphere. In this world, a large blue monster can be named "Susan" and hit on humans; where nobody questions an ape having a human ex-wife; but where there are some completely silly, off-the-wall moments. This was a show that, by all accounts, was fresh, edgy, and had some pretty strong writing behind it. It was also the kind of show that could only happen on television - film might be a little too realistic, and remove some of the surrealistic edge; comics would just deaden the tone. Puppets help add an extra layer - a puppet can say things that a human being can't, and can act in ways which are acceptible yet outside-the-box.

(It was also, as per the special features, a character with a past - Greg was featured in a cable access show, then on the Independent Film Channel, and if they had not hooked up with a producer from Just Shoot Me - yes, you heard that right - it would never have happened).

For all of its claim to edginess, Fox Network seems, at best, like the dodgy uncle who uses out-of-date slang to prove he's hip. (Gee, I wonder why I don't watch tv much anymore?) You owe it to yourself to see this show, which was one of the truly original shows on television. Plus, it makes a great Xmas gift.

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