Since the days of the theatre as brought to us by people and playwrights of the ancient lands of Greece, India, Rome, and Britain, the situational comedy has been a formidable facet of storytelling. Indeed, were it not for the political, sexual, and social satires set forth from those classic stages of yore, we might not know the likes of Monty Python or SCTV today — two items I most definitely could not live without in this mad, mad world. However, by flipping the coin over to the other side, there would be a number of other shows that might not have been allowed to exist, either, had our world’s long-gone authors not given it their all so long ago.
And, in the case of the NBC sitcom Whitney, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. At all. In fact, were I of the opinion that one could alter the events of the past in order to change the affairs of both the present and the future, I would heartily suggest somebody out there develop a time machine solely to journey back in time in order to prevent Whitney — as well as a great deal many other series — from being made. You know, just like that scientific genius who recently prevented us from suffering the wretchedness of Dane Cook’s Next Caller (which was canceled by the network even before it aired — at least that’s what we think!).
In the case of Whitney, the word “dreadful” does not even begin to suffice what was surely sent back to us from the future by some evil computer like Skynet in the Terminator movies in order to destroy us. That simply has to be its reason on Earth, people. There is no other logical explanation as to why it has come to be. In this case, Skynet is calling itself NBC, and the harbinger of doom is comedienne Whitney Cummings, who has taken it upon herself to turn her own real-life experiences and stand-up routines into a show about love and funny stuff. Alas, there is no funny stuff to be found — and there’s certainly no love goin’ on here, either.
Some people choose to suffer for the sake of their comedy. Whitney chooses to make us suffer instead. And Universal Studios Home Entertainment is perfectly content with having us endure to agony all the more by releasing Whitney: Season One on DVD in a three-disc set of death with a 1.78:1 widescreen presentation and 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack that really is more than this TV show deserves. Several special features are included (oh, the humanity), and consist of deleted scenes, a gag reel, and audio commentaries just in case you need to figure out what you were supposed to be laughing at.
Normally, a sitcom should have a lot of jokes being fired in a rapid, machine gun-like manner towards its audience with the intention of slaying ’em all dead. Whitney does the opposite. She fires a single, scratchy old dried-up rubber bullet at us, one that ricochet back and forth between our heads like a pinball tends to do when it bounces back between a couple of bumpers, until we finally grab the l’il mutha out of the air and squeeze it so hard, Whitney Cummings’ own blood emerges from it. And, even once you do that and the terror is no longer in the air, there is still no satisfaction to be had. It’s just plain bad — and not even a cameo by Monty Python alumnus John Cleese makes the pain go away.
Consider this your warning, people. And yes, you should come with me if you want to live and all that jazz.