Archive for July 12th, 2008


What I’m Watching: Titus

One of the things I love about NetFlix is how it allows me to watch TV shows I’ve heard good things about, but never had the chance to see before. I tore through Dexter season one not long ago, and now I’ve gotten to the first two seasons of the short-lived Fox sitcom, Titus. Some time after this show ended its three-year run, people began telling me how great it was (like most Fox shows that are cancelled too soon). I never really felt an urge to watch the show, however, until I saw Christopher Titus’s stand-up special on Comedy Central, Norman Rockwell is Bleeding. Titus had a really unique act, drawing on some genuinely dark, painful and tragic personal experiences for his comedy. Sure, lots of comics poke fun at themselves, them lives, their family, but how many of them include their mother’s suicide into their stand-up routines? After watching the show, I liked it enough to throw the first set of episodes from his sitcom into my NetFlix queue.

Today I watched the disc with the first five episodes of the show, and I’ve gotta say, I really liked it. Like most sitcoms built around stand-up comedians, a lot of the jokes in the early episodes are just routines from his stage performance dramatized. In fact, a bit from his show about how he and his future wife “broke up” and cheated on each other in the course of a day turned into an entire episode (and probably the best episode on the disc). Titus basically plays himself, except instead of a stand-up comedian he runs a hot rod shop. Cynthia Watros (Lost) does a great job as his girlfriend Erin, the popular girl from high school who found an unexpected prince charming but who still has to learn to live with him. Rounding out the cast is his neurotic best friend (David Shatraw), goofy brother (Zack Ward), and his oppressive father (Stacy Keach). These characters manage to defy a lot of sitcom conventions. In most sitcoms, Keach’s father would be the grumpy-but-lovable curmudgeon. On Titus, he’s a jerk. He’s a lech, he’s borderline abusive to his two sons — but Titus takes pains to show that despite his faults, his father took care of his sons the best he could.

The show is frequently broken by black-and-white sequences of Titus, himself, addressing the camera as something of a narrator. It’s not a totally unique device, but it works particularly well here, and although the show is shot in a traditional sitcom fashion, the style of comedy is really pretty unique. I’m going to get through the remaining discs in the show’s run before I pass judgment — the real test will be if the show found its footing after it ran out of stage routines to mine for content — but if the rest of the series was as good as this first disc, I’ll add it to the extensive list of shows Fox pulled the plug on before their time. Firefly. Futurama. Andy Richter Controls the Universe. Man, that’s an extensive list.

July 2008

Blog Stats

  • 319,608 hits

Blake's Flickr Photos

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.