Sit Down, Shut Up: “one big letdown”

US critics have savaged the animated adaptation of a short-lived Aussie sitcom.

sdsuAnother Australian format adapted by the Americans has landed dud reviews.

This time however, it has to be said the original series was not even a hit here. Sit Down, Shut Up was a short-lived 2000 sitcom on Channel TEN with a cast including Stephen Curryand Marg Downey.

The show featured teachers who misbehaved more than their students. It was picked up by Arrested Development‘s Mitch Hurwitz and animated with voices including Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Henry Winkler and Kristen Chenoweth.

It will premiere on FOX this Sunday night.

Transported from an Aussie high school to one in a Florida fishing town, it is styled in an unusual mix of animated characters before photographed backdrops.

Unfortunately the reviews are all terrible.

Variety said it was “difficult to understand why anybody would need to import an idea this basic and banal.”:

“Sit Down, Shut Up” is an odd hybrid, and not just because the series places animated characters against photographed backdrops. Mixing social satire with a relentless array of kinky sex jokes, the early episodes limbo beneath the bar of bad taste set by Seth MacFarlane’s animated fare, feeling more suited — mostly for ill — to Comedy Central or Adult Swim’s latenight menu than primetime on Fox. Despite a pedigree that includes “Arrested Development” creator Mitch Hurwitz and many of that program’s stars, “Sit Down” seldom rises above sniggering double entendre. Seemingly preoccupied with impressing teenage boys, the show should possess scant appeal outside that demo.

Mercury News said:
“Sit Down” is full of visual verve, plopping its funky cartoon renderings atop live-action backgrounds. But the material fails to match the artwork as Hurwitz and company pack the half-hour with juvenile humor pegged to porn magazines, “three ways” and various body parts. The jokes are so random and nonsensical that the whole enterprise winds up feeling like a barrage of flat one-liners in search of a show. If there’s a positive outlook to be derived from this sad and tacky debacle, it’s that a quick cancellation should give Hurwitz more time to work on that highly anticipated “Arrested Development” movie, for which he has promised to throw Forte a role. For now, though, “Sit Down” is just one big letdown.

Washington Post said “It’s painful to think that humor this lame isn’t even based on an original concept”:
Hurwitz’s self-conscious irreverence extends to jokes about birth defects, genitalia, placentas, race, religion, sexual deviation and female hormone replacement drugs — one of which causes a male teacher to grow breasts of which he becomes quite fond. For some strange reason, Salman Rushdie’s name is dropped at one point. The teachers sometimes realize they are animated characters in a cartoon. An assistant principal looks up, as if at the creator of the show, and asks, “Can I get a flashback on this?” He is disappointed when none is forthcoming.

Newsday gave it a Grade D:
“Sit Down” is raw, vulgar and blithely offensive, with so many triple and quadruple entendres for so many sexual acts, I lost count (though the 14-year-olds this is scripted for won’t get most of them, anyway). But “Sit Down” is also servicing – that’s just a simple double-entendre for you – so many big names with so much packed dialogue, much of which is delivered with crescendo force, your head will split open. So do your head a favor. Skip this, or just set the DVR for “Family Guy.”

SFGate wonders if “something was lost in the translation” from Australia but adds:
Though the second episode is more cohesive, there’s just no real comedic spark, and the animation, which is mixed with live action, seems to be of an indistinct off-brand Nickelodeon quality. Being animated might be the real problem with “Sit Down, Shut Up,” as it appears to have rejiggered the sensibilities of proven comedy writers.

14 Responses

  1. The critics were right…. the first episode was abysmal, and that’s even allowing for the fact that its a US translation of an Oz idea.

    It simply was’t funny or entertaining, and made low budget lightweight series like ‘Bogan Pride’ seem like top shelf entertainment in comparison.

    I won’t be seeking out any more episodes.

  2. Can’t say I’m surprised either. The original was (next to The Wedge and anything by Paul Fenech) the worst Aussie comedy of the decade. Mitch Hurwitz will always have my eternal gratitude for Arrested Development, but this was a bad idea from the get-go. What’s next? An American remake of Flat Chat? Dog’s Head Bay? After The Beep?

    And I don’t share this snobbish, disingenuous culture of dismissing most American TV as rubbish. It’s not as if everything the Brits turn out is solid gold either, viz: Ruddy Hell, It’s Harry and Paul, Noel’s House Party, Mile High, Ladette to Lady, Anything with Gordon Bloody Ramsay, Britannia High, etc…

  3. Critics don’t often get entertainment that is beyond their sensibilities. The wise thing to do is judge for yourself.
    It is ironic that comments here decrying the backwardness of American culture coexist with a story linking to a Briish paper’s countdown of 50 great American shows. Can such a list be drawn up for any other country’s output of the last decade?

  4. To me it’s funny, what they (the critics) say about ‘Shut Up” I say about most US swill, none of it, bar 24, Fringe and The Unit, are worth watching, they are almost on a par with UK drama, the rest is finger down the throat stuff. *ick*

  5. Not surprised. I saw some preview clips a while back and they were awful.

    Mainstream American comedies should stop placing so much emphasis on “humour” and instead focus more on character development and plot. At least they’ll have something to fall back on should their jokes fail to amuse.

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