Monday, August 21, 2006

Gene Simmons - Comedy Killer

I'm not sure what this indicates about me, but I have two rock obsessions - Ozzy and Gene Simmons - and now both of them have had reality shows about their families. I don't think Gene Simmons' Family Jewels is going to have the same success as The Osbournes, but that's OK, because Gene has about 150 other projects to fall back on (when is that KISSino opening in Vegas anyway?).

I'll present a brief recap of the episodes thus far.

Episode 1 - Happily Unmarried

Gene asks the kids to plan a surprise birthday party for Shannon, but Shannon and the kids turn the tables on him by throwing him a surprise wedding instead, complete with a rabbi! Oh, the hilarity. This is supposed to be funny because Gene swears he will never marry Shannon, the mother of his two teen kids, Nick and Sophie. It isn't funny because (a) Gene has many gifts but comedic timing isn't one of them, and (b) it's so contrived. The best thing about The Osbournes was that not much happened on the episodes. Ozzy taking out the trash became a hilarious ballet. This episode seemed more scripted than most sitcoms.

Episode 2 - Next Generation Rock Star

Cute and charming son Nick is leading a new rock band, but Gene wants to take over as manager. He books Nick a gig before Nick and the boys have even written a song! This episode was marginally better, largely because Nick is a natural in front of the camera and has the most winning personality of them all. It also succeeded because it relied on poking fun at Gene's pomposity, not on Gene being funny.

Episode 3 - The Demon Lives

This was the best episode yet. First, Gene has to recover from the indignity of not being recognized by a studio security guard. Then, the whole family makes cracks about Gene's hair, and we actually get to see a stylist come over and "create" the hair. Unfortunately, this sequence went too quickly and I couldn't tell if it was a transplant, a weave, or what. I have been wondering what's going on with his hair for years. I always thought it looked like he had a dead animal on his head, but Nick described it as "a military helmet." More of this, please. If you have theories on his hair, please leave a comment.

Episode 4 - Driving Me Crazy

As Nick prepares to take his driving test, Gene bets him that he can score higher. Gene is known for being a terrible driver, since he grew up in NYC and only started to drive in his 30s. The loser has to face public humiliation by standing on a street corner in Beverly Hills with a sign saying "I am the world's worst driver". Again, this episode fell flat for me, as it was such a contrived premise. These types of contests don't happen in everyday homes or celeb homes - only in The Brady Bunch house (who can forget Greg's and Marsha's battle of the sexes driving competition and Greg losing when he knocked the egg off the pylon?).

Episode 5 - Food or Sex?

Shannon tricks Gene into going to a fat camp weekend, where he moans about having to exercise, tries to get her into bed, and bribes a resort worker to bring him fast food and a TV. Meanwhile, Aunt Tracy babysits the kids and lets them run wild, even venturing into the sacred KISS museum. Sounds like a synopsis from Full House doesn't it? I'd much rather watch Gene talk on the phone all day hatching brilliant ideas like the KISS coffin and Shannon evaluating scripts for soft-core skinimax flicks.

Basically, this show is trying too hard, and it's too rigidly scripted. Gene comes off stiff, and Shannon comes off like a harpie. There are no family fights at all, and that was always the most entertaining part of The Osbournes or any reality show. The kids seem amazingly down to earth, and so far they are saving the show even if they aren't creating drama. Things might get better - a visit to Gene's mom in NYC is coming up, and that's sure to be amusing. I hope in a future episode, "Uncle Ace" comes to visit, raids the liquor cabinet and won't leave.

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