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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Truth Be Told... I Have No Idea How I Feel About This Show #TruthBeTold #PremiereWeek #3WeekRoundup

Truth Be Told... I Have No Idea How I Feel About This Show #TruthBeTold #PremiereWeek #3WeekRoundup

All pictures courtesy of NBC unless otherwise noted 

Surprise, I'm doing another three week roundup of a new show this season because, you know, I wanna keep you all informed about what you should and shouldn't be watching and the things you have or haven't heard of. Is this one late? Yes, by a week, but some of these late-premiering shows I wasn't going to initially do because it really ticked me off that the networks don't give us everything all at once. I like all at once, the overload of it. Anyway, as with all of these posts if you want to know my initial thoughts on this show and any other network TV new show then click the #Premiere Week link up top but as a refresher I'll say that my thoughts on this show were sparse because I had no idea what this show was about. NBC's fall lineup marketing budget clearly went all to Heroes Reborn, The Player and Blindspot because some of the other new shows I didn't even see an ad for until September when the other shows had been advertised all summer long. Hell, I didn't even know when Grimm was coming back until a week before it did. So how is the old Wesen-dominated supernatural/fairy tale show's new lead-in doing?

Truth Be Told (#TruthBeTold) stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Vanessa Lachey, and two newbie black actors (new to me) that fans might have caught glimpses of in recent comedies. Tone Bell (the man, just in case anyone has trouble identifying gender based on name) was most recently seen as the witty wise-cracking bailiff on NBC's other failed comedy from last year Bad Judge. Was that show Seinfeld or Friends or The Office, no; however, I rather enjoyed its dysfunction. I thought Tone did quite well as the sidekick--yes, I know black sidekick guy is a stereotype but he did it well. The other newbie to me is Bresha Webb who is probably most famous for her guest starring stint on Grey's Anatomy, though her IMDb page might say differently. Although a viewer might also recognize her if they happen to be a big horror buff who loves Indies (side note: I am and I can only remember her from Grey's). Together, these four make up the two couples around which this show is based.

The premise of the show as I now understand it is for them to approach possible hot button/ controversial/non-PC topics in the typical 90s sitcom way. Yes, that means it has a laugh track. No, I don't think it hinders the show. It should be noted that this show was originally entitled People Are Talking which defines the ho-humness perfectly. Mainly focusing on marriage, it at least gets the diversity reward as it features only one white man in the cast (no white women. Sorry). Outside of those few details that is pretty much it. That's about all you need to know about the show and hence, why NBC probably didn't promote it very well and why they stuck it on Fridays in the dead zone that is 8:30. I know this doesn't fare to well as Constantine ran at 8pm last year (it switched times with Grimm which still managed to pull an audience) and it did nothing. Dracula had been on at 9pm after Grimm the previous season and it also did nothing. The point is that outside of Grimm and Dateline, NBC hasn't had success with filling the third hour of prime time regardless of if its 8 or 9 and regardless of the type of shows they put there. This year, they go for the two straight comedies and while Undateable Live seems like the biggest farce a network has perpetrated on its loyal viewers, at least it does have a certain intrigue to it because it's live. Truth be told, Truth Be Told does not have that (you knew I'd use that joke at least once in this post. Wordplay. Tee-hee!).

For the little buzz (we're talking so little a bee couldn't hear it) surrounding this show and the concept, there's not a lot of controversy to the subject matter. You want true controversy read The Provocateur but I digress. The first three episodes seemed like standard fare right out of a 90s sitcom playbook. Everything from the babysitter has a dark past to old couples arguing vs. new couples arguing to little kid sees what she shouldn't--it's all there for the watching and for you to enjoy at your leisure. Ground-breaking? No. Oddly, not even the black jokes have any bite anymore as Mark's character's use of the N-word is briefly discussed. I'm not sure how to even summarize the three episodes any more succinctly as I did a few sentences back but here it goes.

The first episode started in a Chinese restaurant where we meet Mark and Tone's characters and briefly debate the authenticity of the counter girl's Chinese accent. Tone correctly points out that the accent is fake, after which they leave to the valet and Tone asks for his Porshe. When returning the car, the valet gives the keys to the white man based on the fact that a John Mayer CD was playing inside. So black people can't like John Mayer? He was on Chappelle Show with Dave Chappelle. THE CHAPPELLE SHOW WITH DAVE CHAPPELLE! I love John Mayer's music and anybody that tells me I can't is just gonna make me write in even more prominently capitalized letters--it's possible... I think.

The rest of the episode deals with some tickets Tone's wife gets from an ex to go backstage at a Jay-Z concert. Mark and his wife are invited but have to find a babysitter for their one night out in 46 days. Naturally, she's hot but she also has a Latina complexion which makes her "racially ambiguous." Neverminding that, Tone thinks he recognized her from a porno. The two men investigate his claim and think it's her. Tone doesn't want to tell the ladies, fearing it will ruin the night. But Mark--did I mention he is an Ethics professor--blurts out the truth as they sit in the driveway. The babysitter comes out to catch them all watching side-by-side videos of the porn and a vacation vid from her Facebook, prompting her to leave. They never get the answer to the question and their night is ruined. See where this series is going?

The second episode goes in a similar fashion as Tone gets tickets to the AVN awards (for people not in the know or who actually have morals the AVN stands for Adult Video Gubernatorial Awards--the "guber" is silent. Or wait, that N might stand for news, though what network carries porn news?. Playing a rising star comedian, he is an honored guest because the producers want access to his Twitter following. Since Mark and Vanessa are the longer-standing couple, they try to school Tone and Bresha on how to have trust. Yadda, yadda, yadda, he lies about an after-party, she shows her insecurity, they start not to go but have to go back home and interrupt the guys' night to solve the conflict with their wives, Tone and Bresha end up not going while Mark and Vanessa go with the other two guys in the group. All is forgiven and lessons in truth, honesty and trust are learned. Hiz-zah!

The third episode sees Mark having to babysit swap with the Orthodox Jewish couple from across the street. Watching after his daughter and their daughter, he panics and takes them to Tone and Bresha's house where Tone has a sing-a-long karaoke of the full soundtrack of Disney's Frozen because his wife thought his gift request for the film was a joke. For reasons that defy logic, Tone goes to take a shower while the kids and Mark are over there. As Mark tries to get the karaoke machine to work, the Jewish girl runs off through the house, wanders through the unlocked bathroom door and sees through the perfectly clear, non-fogging shower glass (a kind of creepy feature for a bathroom unless you live in the Playboy mansion) and sees Tone's "BBC." At that point, I didn't know what was more shocking: the fact that they've used this same instance countless times on TV before or the fact that they said BBC. OK, really I wasn't shocked at all that they used the set-up, but I really wanted to write an "or" comparative statement and I had nothing else to compare their use of the word BBC to.

Naturally, everyone but ethicist Mark wants to cover it up. But when she draws a picture of it and the parents think it is of the male babysitter instead, their cover-up results in his firing. A potential good thing as Mark and Vanessa now have access to the great babysitter, Mark blurts out the truth while at the Jewish household. Even though they already don't like the black guy, the Jewish family still decides to attend Mark and Vanessa's daughter's sixth birthday party knowing that their none-children having black friends will be there. The judgy stay-at-home moms are looking for career woman Vanessa to redeem herself from last year's fairy princess stripper-gate but the party blows. Frozen sing-a-long time! Recently working in a yogurt commercial, Tone happens to have a costume similar to Olaf the snowman and comes out for all the kids to see and touch and enjoy. When he starts to get jiggy with it the suit rips exposing, once again, his BBC. I know what your'e thinking right now. "Whoa, wait a minute. Did that guy just say something about getting jiggy with it?" Yes, I fit that Will Smith reference in. Yep.

What's my grade? I give this a C. I enjoy the chemistry of the cast and think everyone plays off of each other well. I especially like Tone as I did in Bad Judge. But at times Mark sticks out as if he doesn't fully believe in the character or the script. Sometimes I wish Zack could just go back to when the days were simple, and he and his cardboard Kelly cutout could live in peace. A guy can dream, can't he?

Picture courtesy of Saved By The Bell

Should you be watching? Meh! If you already have something else to watch or do on Friday, then no you probably shouldn't tune in for this show. If, however, you use your DVR as much as you breathe air, then give this a shot and see how it feels in your eyeballs (that came out more creepy than I anticipated). While the show is hit or miss and a rehash of something you've already seen before, it did give me a few laughs and it might do the same for you, depending on your sense of humor and your mood. I binge-watched the first three episodes after a long day of outside winter preparation for my gardens which I will be posting about soon. My body was fatigued and I hadn't used my brain much all day. Oh, and Ashley Tisdale was on there too. Yay, Ashley Tisdale.

What do you think? Am I being too hard on this freshman show and not seeing its comedic brilliance? Do you watch the show? If so, who is your favorite character and why? The episode order has been cut so this might not make it. If you want it to, tell all your friends about it. Do you want it to survive or is this cancel-bait? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new comedy novel Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare check #AFuriousWind#DARKER#BrandNewHome or  #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out now NOW exclusively on Amazon. If you like fast action crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right side.

Until next time, "hey, I'm just your typical black sidekick. Thank god this isn't a scary movie because if it was I'd probably already be--ahhh! Stop killing me!"

P.S. Though he is a lead, why does Tone Bell still feel like a sidekick here? Maybe it's because they're always filmed inside Mark and Vanessa's house? Don't know. I'll come up with a better sign-off next time.

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