A few weeks back I wrote a piece about TV shows I was expecting next fall. The column was pure fiction obviously, but having re-read it, I realized that some of the show ideas I wrote about in my summer allergy/Halls Menthalyptus/Nyquil/Tylenol Cold/Samuel Adams Summer Ale-induced drunken stupor actually sounded pretty entertaining, at least compared with some of the anal leakage present on your TV at this very moment.

Network TV is an absolute disgrace. I watch exactly one show on all of the major four networks combined (excluding sports), and that's “Scrubs” on NBC. Not only is it the funniest show not on HBO or Comedy Central, it's one of the few shows that hasn't been over-hyped, isn't filled with obnoxious humor, and most importantly, doesn't use a laugh track. No laugh track. Brilliant. I don't need a TV show poking my shoulder, saying “See? This funny! You laugh now.”

Other than “Scrubs” (which again, is pure genius), network TV is in shambles. FOX is undoubtedly the worst, and I concluded the aforementioned article by explaining that the promo-obsessed, virtually Satanic production department has taken everything bad about TV and amplified it to such a degree that I can't even watch the Simpsons anymore in fear of being consumed by evil. That, and the Simpsons hasn't been good since they killed Maude Flanders.

I thought FOX had sunk as low as it could. The O.C. is like 90210 after a lobotomy. American Idol is obnoxious almost to the point that watching it makes me nauseous. I boycotted 24 after being bombarded by promos trying to watch the Red Sox playoff games last year. Swan is purely evil (and remember I'm a guy who suggested a reality show where rape victims box their attacher). But Wednesday night, FOX amazed me in their ability to induce further annoyment, by broadcasting the single worst show of any genre I've ever seen.

“Quintuplets.”

It's possible you haven't head of it. Chances are, by the time you read this, the show might have even been canned. Even FOX, the over-hype machine that it is, didn't assault the unsuspecting viewer with promos all that much. I guess they knew what they were working with.

Let me give you a synopsis of the show. It's about a family with quintuplets. That's it. It's like every single other family sitcom you've ever seen. Dad's an idiot. Mom's a Nazi. The kids are completely different from each other. And they all get involve in various misadventures that can be dealt with in 22 minutes flat.

Now, if the formula works, fine. I used to enjoy shows like Family Ties, Step by Step, Home Improvement, and the immortal Boy Meets World, probably the pinnacle of the family sitcom genre. And if you do it right, great. But Quintuplets takes the formula, wipes its ass with it, and sticks in the audience's face saying: “Care for a sniff?”

The pilot episode involved the following:

*Two of five kids (the gorgeous popular ones, who of course are completely vapid) getting invited to a party, only to have the other three complain, at which point Mom ends up causing the party to get cancelled.

*Coincidentally, Mom and Dad are going to a Bruce Springsteen concert that Saturday night.

*The kids decide to throw the party at THEIR house with Mom and Dad gone, hoping to save their rep.

*At the concert, Dad eats a pot brownie, which the dialogue calls a “special” brownie, because the show is TV-PG.

*The short, overly horny kid faints after seeing a 15-YEAR-OLD'S breasts, and is resuscitated by his brother, who gets his retainer caught on the short kid's braces, leading to everyone else in the room to think they are making out.

Now, let's start with the concept. I believe, honestly, a sitcom about quintuplets could be made funny. The writers of this show, however, apparently didn't think so and wrote this shite anyway. For starters, the quintuplets look ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ALIKE. I'm serious. Nothing. Not even a little. One's tall and muscular. One's tall and skinny. One's practically a midget. One's a hot chick with a great rack and one of those Jessica Simpson Rent-a-Faces. One looks like the chick from “Welcome to the Dollhouse” (translation: ass-ugly for you non-Todd Solondz fans). I counted one with brown hair, one with red hair, two with black hair, and a blonde. Not one of them looks like either one of their parents. Who are these kids? The show should at least have thrown us a bone and said they were adopted or something. Nothing.

So, right off the bat, the concept is shot to shit. There's not one iota of believability. I know what the writers were thinking: “We better get five actors who look absolutely nothing alike, because if these quintuplets look similar, our idiot audience will be confused.”

Then, there's the story. Again, this show will never be remembered as a “Seinfeld” or “Cheers.” Kids throwing a party with their parents out of town isn't exactly reinventing the prime time wheel. Didn't “Saved by the Bell” pretty much eviscerate this story idea? Didn't Zack or Kelly or Slater try to get away with this every other episode?

Then there's the parents. Per usual, Dad's a complete horse's ass and Mom's the brains of the operation. Hey, I'm not going to front—99% of the time, Mom's in charge and Dad's just her spokesman with a belt. I understand this. That's how it is in my family. But here's the thing. My dad doesn't act like he's stuck with the same thought process ever since he got a lobotomy when he was 14. Why does TV have this idea that men are complete bumbling idiots and women are ravishing intellectuals? I know a lot of women. Many of them aren't terribly bright. Almost all of them lack common sense. I'm not saying the guys I know are Isaac Newtons, but there's a consistency between men and women, in terms of intellect, and TV shows seem to think the opposite. How about a show where the woman is a doofus, and her husband has all the power? No, because that would piss off the feminists.

The kids are pretty much the cookie cutter, assembly-line jack-offs every sitcom writer assumes teenage life embodies. We've got the popular guy, the airhead girl, the outcast girl, the nerdy guy, and the horny dork who's way too short. Haven't these cliches been done to death? Why can't anyone write real teenagers into a TV show? Even the great “Freaks and Geeks” was essentially stomping on a stereotype. What about smart jocks and cheerleaders? Dorky guys who get laid a lot? Horny guys who get laid a lot? Hot girls who save themselves? Ugly girls who aren't total bitches? These people exist. I went to high school with them. But sitcom writers are too fucking piss-stupid to write an intelligent show about them. Instead, we get asinine shows about asinine people, because cliches are easier to write than realistic teenagers.

Then there's the laughs. Or lack thereof. The pot brownie thing was embarrassing. Can we officially induct that into the Overplayed Joke Hall of Fame right next to the “Old White Guys Speaking Ebonics” wing? Then there's the scene where one brother tries to resuscitate the other one, and ends up getting his retainer caught on the kid's braces. How did the kid faint? Glad you asked. He was hitting on a girl, who flashes him, and he passes out. Now, the show has established that the girl is 15. We obviously don't see the ladies, but we get the idea, then we see her anxiously buttoning her blouse after the commotion. Now, I'm not going to go all Bill O'Reilly soapbox and whine about declining morals, but isn't there something a little oft-putting about a 15-year-old flash in prime time? I realize “Seinfeld” involved a 15-year-old's cleavage in one scene. But there's two big diffs here. One. The girl in Seinfeld looked 23. The girl here actually looks younger than 15. Two. Seinfeld was funny, and this show is not. I'm sorry, it just seems a little creepy in a show designed for the whole family to involve a scene like this for laughs. And remember, I'm the same guy who would chew off my right arm for a chance to see Hilary Duff “Come Clean.”

Back to the scene itself, there's no payoff to the retainer/braces fiasco, other than the schmaltzy scene where Big Brother dumps a girl for dissing his goofy siblings. Let me set something straight: if a hot chick who was planning on sleeping with me dissed my brother, I wouldn't care less. And I love my brother like a brother. Then again, I don't have the Fox Sitcom Formula Machine puppeteering my ass into “Full House” endings.

Then there's Andy Richter. If I had to make a top 10 funniest people list, he'd at least be a honorable mention, and might slip into the 10 spot if Lewis Black was hit by a bus or something. He needs to go back to Conan. This instant. This whole film/TV front man idea thing hasn't worked. Actually, let me rephrase. It has worked in “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” a funny, well-written show that had to be cancelled by Fox immediately under the “Family Guy Law” which states: any FOX show that's funny, entertaining, and maintains a semblance of wit, must constantly change time slots, be headily under-hyped, and cancelled just as it begins developing a fan base. Besides the aforementioned “Universe” and his hysterical cameo in the blistering Christmas epic “Elf”, his post-Conan career has been David Caruso-esque. “Scary Movie 2”? “New York Minute”? “Pootie Tang”? He needs to go back and make Conan great again. (I feel very strongly about this, I also think if Adam Carolla would just swallow his pride and co-host Jimmy Kimmel's late night show, that disaster would better itself as well. But that's just me.) Richter is awful here. Awful. Completely unfunny, like he's just waiting for the show to be cancelled so he can go kick his agent in the balls. Family Sitcom is not his bag. He needs a late night talk show or a sketch comedy show on Comedy Central, not “Everybody Loves Raymond Times Five”.

Is this the worst show I've ever seen? I'm not sure. “The Nanny” was pretty awful, and FOX programming continues to amaze me. The channel's gotten so offensively bad I'm waiting for them to come out with a show where Carrot Top punches my dog for an hour. I think “Quintuplets” should more or less signify the end of family sitcoms as we know them. I mean, didn't “Married: With Children” pretty much slam every convention of the genre as we know it, the way “Scream” did for slasher movies? The idea's been killed. Let's turn our attention to more innovative shows like “Seinfeld”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Scrubs” and so on. Or better yet, just stop watching FOX. If nobody watches the crap they shovel our way, maybe they will actually sit at a table, and write an inspiring show that captivates the nation and entertains them the old fashioned way. With smart writing, good acting, and motivated story ideas. I'm JD Rebello. Good night.

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