Last night saw the premiere of Cavemen, one of the most talked about new shows of the fall season. Sure, most of that talk has been people saying things such as, “Can you believe they actually made a show out of those stupid GEICO commercials?” or “I think Cavemen is really going to suck.” But we’ve decided to give it a chance anyway. Like The Onion once did with John Leguizamo’s abysmal sketch show House of Buggin’, we’re going to provide weekly recaps of Cavemen until it gets canceled … which could happen by the time you’re done reading this.
The show revolves around three cavemen living in present day San Diego: Joel, Andy and Nick. Joel is a normal guy with a normal job. He’s a furniture salesman at a place called Norskbild, which looks suspiciously like an Ikea. His brother, Andy, has just moved to San Diego after breaking up with a girl named Susan, who slept with another man in Andy’s car — while Andy was at the dentist. Despite that, he still pines for Susan and calls her (several times) daily. Then there’s their roommate Nick, a career student with a sarcastic streak, who’s supposedly working on a dissertation though he mainly just sits around the apartment mocking everyone else.
This week’s episode, “Her Embarrassed by Caveman,” revolves around a secret that Joel’s been keeping from Andy and Nick — he’s dating a girl named Kate. When Andy and Nick find out about Kate, they assume Joel is ashamed because she’s ugly. She’s not, but she is a Homosapien, and Joel wants to avoid a lecture from Nick, who believes in keeping “your penis inside your genus” and wouldn’t approve of Joel dating a “sape.” When Nick learns that Kate has yet to introduce Joel to her friends, he suggests that she is ashamed of dating a caveman — and Joel begins to think the same thing.
Meanwhile, to get over Susan, and with Nick’s self-serving encouragement, Andy goes on a spending spree with the large amount of travelers checks he has (for some reason). He buys a Nintendo Wii, a panini press, down vests, and a mountain bike (for Nick). Later, this symbiotic relationship between Andy and Nick — in which Andy gives Nick money and Nick gives Andy … well, nothing, really — supplies the funniest exchange of the episode when Nick mocks Andy’s Velcro wallet while Andy pays for drinks at a bar:
Nick: “Seriously. It’s time for a big boy wallet.”
Andy: “You want to pay?”
Nick: “Point taken.”
That was the highlight of the show. Of course, when the competition is lame jokes about not-so-topical targets such as R. Kelly, Wikipedia, the pretension of coffeehouses, Bobby Knight and MySpace, the bar is set pretty low. The only thing the show really has going for it right now is Joel’s sheepish, incompetent Norskbild protege, Ray (Nick Swardson), who is overwhelmed by just about every situation and says really inappropriate things about other people’s girlfriends.
Eventually Andy and Nick meet Kate, and Kate’s friends meet Joel, without incident — and without a whole lot of laughs. The makers of Cavemen claim that the show is a commentary on race relations — and the guess here is that when the series ultimately flops, they’ll insist that audiences just didn’t “get it.” But what Cavemen really is more than anything else, is bad. Not over-the-top bad like part of me hoped it would be (at least that would have been fun) but bad from the standpoint that the show poses as a comedy and is just not very funny.
Anyway, I made a man date with ABC and didn’t make a love connection. But since I made a promise to recap every episode until cancellation, if Cavemen is still around next week, I will be, too — watching so you don’t have to.