THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Lorne Michaels, Seth Myers, Mike O'Brien and Glenn Howerton, what could possibly go wrong?
With the recent flood of television re-boots like Rosanne, Will & Grace and the WILDLY unnecessary Mad About You (seriously, that might happen), it’s nice to see the think tank that is a network executive’s office can still make room for new scripted comedies.
NBC’s A.P. Bio is one of those. Created by comedian and writer Mike O’Brien (SNL), produced by Lorne Michaels (SNL, etc.) and Seth Myers (the brilliant Late Night with Seth Myers) and starring Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) this show should be a slam dunk.
Disgraced Harvard Philosophy scholar Jack Griffin (Howerton) is forced to move back to Toledo, Ohio and ends up teaching high school A.P. Biology. Griffin uses the class time not to teach biology but to plot various ways to get revenge on his nemesis, a former philosophy colleague who allegedly stole Griffin’s professorship at Stanford University, devise ways to hook up with women or win back an old girlfriend.
All the comedy check boxes are present.
The misanthropic and slovenly dressed, yet brilliant, teacher? Check. The clueless principal? Check. The nymphet teacher colleagues? Check. I had hoped we’d moved beyond the Ivy League grad as rube trope by now, but apparently not! Check.
Most annoying is Griffin’s incessant apple eating. We get it, teacher, apple … not subtle and not funny.
The writing here is straight forward with situations we’ve all seen before (and done better) with jokes that are for the most part, trite. The pop culture jokes fare a little better; a Lisa Loeb cameo, an episode incorporating a running joke around the song "Baker Street" and how often can you combine a hot tub, Sex Pistol Steve Jones and Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav all appear in the same episode.
If you’re familiar with Glenn Howerton then you’ve probably seen FXX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is the best current scripted comedy … and probably one of the best, period. Howerton plays Dennis Reynolds on Sunny and A.P. Bio’s Jack Griffin is just an Ivy League educated Dennis Reynolds.
That’s not awful.
As Jack, Howerton makes the most of the material and manages to squeeze out a few laughs, but it’s far from new territory for him. Patton Oswalt plays the doltish principal and that’s miscast, but I’ll take any Patton Oswalt over none. Jack’s trio of female teacher friends are fine but, not surprisingly, it’s the kids who shine. All of them are great but I’d watch out for Allisyn Ashley Arm, who plays Heather (and fully embrace’s Jack’s behavior, calling him “Boss”) and Aparna Brielle who plays Sarika (Jack’s in class humorless nemesis). More of them, please!
I think A.P. Bio suffers from either “comedy by committee” or “comedy by market research,” because the talent is all over the place. Maybe the suits sucked the humor from the writer’s room. It’s sad because all the actors here are capable of, and deserve, better.
Is A.P. Bio worth 30 minutes of your time? Meh, you could do worse.
NBC's new high school-set sitcom A.P. Bio features a set of teachers and administrators who are less Mr. Feeney from...