Tv Review: What Just Happened?!! With Fred Savage

what just happened index 2
When The Walking Dead became a major ratings hit soon after The Talking Dead was launched, an “After-Show” which discussed the events of the episode that had just aired. It wasn’t the first of such shows (by my reckoning Big Brother’s Big Mouth was possibly the one which started it all off, but there could be other earlier examples that have passed me by) but it was the one which made the concept famous and now every time a tv show becomes even briefly popular it appears that one is launched, and so inevitably a series has come along which mocks the whole concept.

Supposedly covering a hit tv series called The Flare which is based on the fake novel The Moon Is The Sun At Night by T.J. Whitford, the episode sees Fred Savage co-host the show with Taylor Tomlinson, a contestant from the 2015 series of Last Comic Standing. From the get go it’s clear there’s tension between the two with Savage slightly irritated by her being hired in the first place, largely as she mocks his fondness for the books, but it’s not mined for humour in any effective way. Savage seems to be the only person involved in the series who cares about the source material too as there’s a running gag about how he’s the only one who has even read the original novel, which includes the star of The Flare, Chester Hastings (Kevin Zegers), who seemingly only got the role because he’s all rather muscular and fit, and who gets upset with Savage’s disdain over the fact that he’s nothing like the character in the novel and walks off. Such a scene could have been used to send up the pomposity of Hollywood actors, but once again the moment falls flat.

After this there’s a prerecorded skit where Savage seeks out co-star Helen Mirren and travels to where she lives for a surprise interview, but he gets the wrong address and fails to find her. If they’d managed to get Mirren on board, or any other highly regarded actor, it could have been an amusing segment, but as it is it just feels a little pointless. Then we’re back in the studio for an interview with supposed super fan Rob Lowe (who of course co-starred with Savage in the short lived but actually really great sitcom The Grinder) who spends most of his time plugging his autobiography, and then after Chester Hastings comes back and apologises for buggering off earlier the show comes to an abrupt end.

It’s an odd beast for certain, it definitely captures the feel of aimless after-shows and is quite realistic in it’s inanity, but unfortunately it’s not that funny. There’s the odd amusing joke and Rob Lowe sends himself up gamely, and his line about the novel and how “Reading them stoned, oof, even better” made me briefly smile, but as a whole it feels a bit bland. This Time With Alan Partridge showed that you can take a live tv show and make it gloriously funny, but Savage plays it straight and though there’s the odd joke at his expense most of the time it’s distinctly lacking in any attempt at humour.

Perhaps like This Time With Alan Partridge it will grow funnier with each episode, perhaps the tension between co-hosts will build and build, and the clips we get to see of The Flare will be more outlandish and silly, but there’s little that suggests that to be the case right now. Savage is an amiable host and Tomlinson seems decent enough, though she doesn’t get that much to do in this opening episode, but it copies the shows it’s supposedly mocking way too accurately, and if this is to turn in to anything even vaguely watchable it’s going to need to up it’s game extremely quickly.

Alex Finch.
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