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The excellent premise of the new sitcom How to Live With Your Parents (For The Rest Of Your Life), is squandered in favour of kooky boomer jokes. (ABC)
The excellent premise of the new sitcom How to Live With Your Parents (For The Rest Of Your Life), is squandered in favour of kooky boomer jokes. (ABC)

JOHN DOYLE

When the TV news is funnier than the latest sitcom Add to ...

Personally, I don’t see why the federal cabinet can’t be replaced by cheaper foreign workers.

What’s the big deal? At the top, you need somebody with an economics degree and some experience running a small office. Our Glorious Leader has such a degree and ran the National Citizens Coalition, a tiny operation with few employees. That’s it. Surely there’s somebody with similar qualifications who is willing to come here and do the job for a fraction of the cost?

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After that, for the rest of cabinet, you need some lawyers, maybe somebody with medical experience, some real-estate agents and people who can say “prudent management of the economy” over and over with a straight face. Also, somebody with a knack for attack ads. It can’t be hard to find foreign workers with such skills. And willing to do it for half the salary of those currently occupying cabinet posts. I’d call the idea “prudent management.”

Nobody mentioned the idea in the TV news coverage about RBC replacing Canadian staff with temporary foreign workers employed by an outside firm. The story is one of those instances that makes a person think – specifically, think those who work in the TV news racket are a bit dim. We’ve been told that Canadians are “outraged” over the RBC actions and yet what we see on TV is mostly a matter of tiptoeing around bank officials. As if the banks must be treated with enormous deference, no matter how outrageous their business practices.

The other night on CBC’s The National the top fella at RBC talked about the temporary foreign workers thing. Before viewers got to hear his views, Pastor Mansbridge interviewed Amanda Lang about what the fella said. It was comical. You’d think Lang had interviewed the Pope and had to preface the interview with an explanation of the arcane religious matters that might come up in the interview and confuse viewers. Eventually, the RBC fella appeared and insulted the nation’s intelligence, using the phrase, “We benchmark extremely well …”

That too was comical. It’s a fact that the news on TV is often more hysterically funny than most sitcoms. Depending on your point of view, of course. I mean comical in the sense of anger, rage and bafflement at the inanity of the news presentation.

Daily, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert feed off this kind of comedic anger, rage and bafflement. To the point where many people feel they haven’t absorbed the day’s news until they’ve witnessed the comedy angle to it all. Hereabouts, we go in for a much milder version of that approach and we have much less of it. So if you’re thinking that This Hour Has 22 Minutes is going to take a break from Don Cherry jokes to tackle the banks and foreign workers issue, you’re wrong. The 22 Minutes season is already over.

Which brings us to sitcoms. How to Live With Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life) – ABC, CITY-TV, 8:30 p.m. – arrived last week, a late entry into the mid-season battle for viewers. It’s an interesting failure, this one.

The gist is this – Canadian Sarah Chalke plays Polly, a recently divorced single mother with a young daughter, Natalie (Rachel Eggleston). Polly is obliged to move back in with her parents Elaine (Elizabeth Perkins) and Max (Brad Garrett) because of what the E! channel tends to call “the sucky economy.” Thus, Polly is obliged to deal with her wacky parents, raise her daughter, make nice with her ex Julian (Canadian Jon Dore) and, of course, get back into the dating world. Laughter ensues, the show promises.

It doesn’t. The jokes are obvious and broad. What’s especially interesting is how the excellent premise is twisted to put huge emphasis on Polly’s mom and dad. Elaine and Max are presented as the truly interesting characters because they are free spirits, sexually active and kooky. There is a ton of room for mordant humour about the adult daughter pout in the humiliating situation of living with her parents again. And yet the audience has the way-out, middle-aged parents shoved down their throats. As we’re told too often, “60 is the new 30.”

It’s another instance of a fictional sitcom failing to rise to the occasion. The real situation of people moving back to live with their parents is rife with comic possibilities, in a darkly humorous way. But as this poor effort tells us, you’re better off trying to get your laughs from the news on TV.

 

Also airing tonight

Four Days in April: The Mike Weir Story (TSN, 9:30 p.m.) celebrates the 10th anniversary of golfer Mike Weir becoming the first Canadian to win the Masters. Mostly, it’s Weir himself talking about the hard work he put into his game and the mental toughness required to succeed at the highest level. Essentially it presents Weir as a guy who didn’t have a natural gift for the game but had a fierce determination to get better and better. Tiger Woods appears in the doc to offer brief comments. The program seems to be aimed at golf fanatics. But, then, the only thing I know about golf is that Rory McIlroy is a hard man to beat.

All times ET. Check local listings.

Follow on Twitter: @MisterJohnDoyle

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