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Thank God You’re Here, Now Get Lost

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On the same day that I encouraged all of you out there to not be depressed by the television season ending, I watched some shows last night and was depressed that the season hadn’t ended yet. Frankly, what I saw looked awfully tired and made me think that the people behind the scenes need a rest.

First up, NBC’s “improvisational” comedy Thank God You’re Here. Allegedly, this show drops an actor into a situation with a comedy troupe, the actor has no idea what’s happening and has to, therefore, do some improv. Well, Jason Alexander walked out onto a starship set last night and started to improvise, and kept being forced in one direction by the troupe. His improv led him to state that the show they were working on had been canceled (making the troupe into actors working on a show rather than the crew of a starship). One of the troupe said something along the lines of “what he means is…” and thereby dismissed the idea of a show within a show that Alexander put forth and put him on a path they wanted him to travel, not the path he was going down. 

It quickly became clear that Alexander’s idea was dismissed so that the show could introduce an alien on a videoscreen. Eventually the alien boarded Alexander and his crew’s starship, and then proceeded to start a duel with Alexander. Conveniently, the alien’s choice of weapon just happened to have a counterpart next to Alexander’s captain’s chair. Alexander, upon having the weapon pointed out to him, stated “oh, is that what that is.” If it hadn’t been readily apparent before, it was now — it was going to make no difference what Alexander said or did to that point in the improv sketch, the members of the troupe were going to force this duel to occur, even if that meant gainsaying every remark from Alexander. 

How is that improv? Isn’t improv rolling with the punches, being fluid, malleable, and going where the scene goes? I don’t get it, I just don’t.

And, speaking of not getting it, when Jack asked Sun last night about her pregnancy, why was she so suspicious? Have we forgotten that Jack’s a doctor? Has Sun forgotten that Jack’s a doctor? Why, when Sun asked Jack why he was asking her about how she felt during the pregnancy, did Jack not respond: “I’m asking because I’m a doctor and want to make sure you’re okay.” 

It is wholly irrelevant that Sun was right in her suspicions. If a doctor you know and that treats you and your friends asks you about a medical condition you have, why would you ever be suspicious of that? The folks at Lost failed to establish any sort of reason for Sun to have her suspicions. Yes, Jack was gone for a week, held by the Others, but having lived in such close proximity with Jack for months, and having received medical attention from him before, why was she suspicious? The only answer is that the producers needed her to be suspicious in order to further the plot. That’s a horrible answer, but it is the only available one.

The fact that the rest of the episode was so good and that everything moved on from that incident so well does help mitigate this bit of stupidity, but Lost prides itself on being smart, and this was stupid. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I expect better. 

Listen, here’s what I’m going to recommend: after tonight (first night of the May Sweep by the way), let’s all take a deep breath, get a full three-day weekend’s worth of sleep, and pretend like some of this stuff never happened. We’ll not mention Thank God You’re Here ever again (until its cancellation anyway). 

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • Phillip Winn

    Sun’s reaction was a touch odd, and it wouldn’t have been that hard to give a reason for it. Kate saying something, or an odd comment from Sawyer, or something.

  • Rocket

    Oops, I believe you missed the premise of “Thank God You’re Here”. The idea is that the actor walks into a scene for which there is already a script; he just has not been privy to said script. The other cast all know the script. It is not the participant’s scene to do with what he pleases. It’s not so much improv in a free-flowing sense, but more in the sense that the actor has to fly by the seat of his pants to get through a scene he did not practice. The cast is not stifling improv, but rather guiding and laying the framework within which the actor can ad-lib. Most of the contestants get it, but not all. It is certainly not slapstick hilarious, but it is clever and subtly funny. The audience gets to see who the actor is and how they deal with uncomfortable situations, not the normal characters they portray.

  • TV and Film Guy

    Rocket, I get that the troupe has a place where they would like everything to go. But, as with the Alexander sketch, he could’ve said anything and it would’ve made no difference, no one adjusted to what he said, they just negated it. They said stuff like “I think what he means is” when he didn’t say what they wanted or go where they wanted him to. That’s not clever. They have to reposition him subtly, not just negate what he says. There is improv there, or, there should be.

  • Emma Ortiz

    The show could be much better without David Foly…..they don’t need him judging if you will! Get rid of him…it would be good. The main crew/actors are great!