In the ever-evolving world of television, the latest frontier for original programming has become the Internet. With Netflix’s great success in launching hits like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” more and more websites are following suit. The latest to launch their slate of original series? Yahoo.
On Monday (Sept. 9), Yahoo launched its most aggressive slate of original programming to date with the premieres of five new comedy series from some big talent. Following Netflix’s lead, all episodes of new series “Losing It with John Stamos,” “Ghost Ghirls,” “The Fuzz,” “We Need Help” and “Tiny Commando” were made available on Yahoo! Screen. But the big question is: Are any of them worth watching?
Of the five newbies, “Losing It with John Stamos” stands out of the pack. A charming interview-based show featuring John Stamos talking one-on-one with a celebrity about how they lost their virginity, interspersed with humorous recreations of their stories (Casey Wilson‘s episode involves puppets, while Alan Cummings‘ is told through cartoon), “Losing It” lives and dies by whether or not the celebrity telling the story is funny or not. Luckily, Wilson and Cummings manage to bring the goods. (Wilson so much, in fact, that Stamos barely gets a word in edgewise.) We might skip Perez Hilton‘s episode, but count us in for Olivia Munn, Bob Saget and Wilson’s former co-star Adam Pally.
“Ghost Ghirls,” from producer Jack Black, is the 12-part story of best friends Heidi (Amanda Lund) and Angelica (Maria Blasucci), who work as paranormal investigators. With most of the comedy driven by their complete ineptitude at their work, each week follows the bumbling detectives attempting to solve a new case. The guest star roster is stellar (Molly Shannon, Jake Johnson and Natasha Leggero are but a few of the stars who pop up) and the jokes are solid, but, while Lund and Blasucci generally stick the landing every time, inconsistencies with their characters detract points. Both seem to be either dumb or smart when necessary, leaving you feeling as if they’re mere joke fountains, rather than characters.
“The Fuzz,” which tells the story of a world where humans live alongside puppets and puppet crime is out of control, follows a puppet cop and his lazy human partner. The first episode, while light on belly laughs, presents an oddly touching world where puppets want more than they’re given. While sad puppets aren’t exactly funny, something interesting is happening here.
“Tiny Commando” and “We Need Help,” on the other hand? Both feel like a waste of the considerable talent involved. “Tiny Commando,” created by Ed Helms (!) stars Zachary Levi as a 4-inch tall former Navy SEAL shrunk by accident who fights crime and battles his mortal enemy, Cesar Pequeno (Helms), with his sidekick Mitzi (Gillian Jacobs). The entire joke here is that TC and Cesar are tiny. That’s it.
“We Need Help,” from Cheryl Hines and Rachael Harris, doesn’t fare as poorly, but it’s no winner, either. Playing unflattering versions of themselves who torture their shared assistant Max, the two comediennes attempt a improv-heavy format that’s been done before — and better. There are laughs, sure, but it’s hardly anything revolutionary.
Ultimately, the same can be said about Yahoo’s entire endeavor here. With no episode running longer than 15 minutes, this comedy slate isn’t out to change the state of television the way Netflix has hoped to. While that was probably never their intention, considering they’re offering their content for free and don’t have the subscription money to work with like Netflix does, Yahoo is hardly doing anything new here. There laughs to be had, for sure, but any hope for something truly original is, sadly, misplaced.
All episodes of Yahoo’s original fall comedies are available to stream at screen.yahoo.com