Home > Comedy, TV Shows > Canned TV Show #16: Do Not Disturb

Canned TV Show #16: Do Not Disturb

Hello again readers.  I know what you’re thinking: “so soon, after he just wrote a post?  How is this possible?”  Well, it’s pretty easy to finish up a TV show when there are only three 20 minute episodes to have to watch.  Barring the one-or-two episode extravaganza, today’s subject has the shortest run of any show we’ve covered.  It even edges out Kitchen Confidential by a whole episode.  What show could be so undeserving of a full season?  Why that would be 2008’s Do Not Disturb, a hijinks-filled comedy set in a posh hotel, featuring everyone’s comedic dream team, Jerry O’Connell and Niecy Nash.  Also, Jason Bateman apparently directed the pilot, so there’s that.

featuring the other actor who was replaced by Dave Franco

Reading reviews for this show, I must say, made me even more curious and wanting to see it.  It has a metacritic score of 22/100.  It inspired so much vitriol from TV critics that they were forced to reach deep into their vaults for the most scathing of hotel-related puns.  Some critics, such as Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, called it “A program so bad that it’s not only unpleasant to watch, but it makes you fear for the future of network television.”  Wow.  I don’t even have to tell you that sounds like some bad stuff.  I had to see for myself just how bad it was, to see if it deserved the intense hatred which it received from pretty much everybody.

Here’s a quick promo.  Notice how there’s no critic testimonials in it.

So just how bad was it?  Well, I gotta say, I think Ms. Ryan and others were just a smidge too harsh.  I mean, sure, it’s pretty awful, but is it so bad that it could signal the end of quality network TV as we know it?  Not really.  The show suffers from a debilitating problem that I like to call “the unfunny sitcom syndrome.”  Now stay with me, because this is pretty complicated.  This is when a sitcom aims to be funny, but is in fact…not funny.  Are you still with me?  To make up for this, laugh tracks are put in, to try and guilt you into laughing, sort of by saying, “look this studio audience is laughing, why aren’t you?”  It’s a very common thing we’ve seen in more than one show on this blog.

The premise is as follows: it takes place at The Inn, a popular hotel in New York City, and documents all the “hilarity” going on behind the scenes.  O’Connell plays Neal, the manager of the hotel, who has a reputation as a horndog who tries to screw every hot employee working there.  Nash is his foil, Rhonda, the human resources director.  There’s also Larry (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, so funny on Modern Family, and who actually manages to get a few laughs here and there), the head of housekeeping, Nicole (Molly Stanton), the pretty, bitchy receptionist, Gus (Dave Franco, James’ tooly younger brother), a horny bellman, and Molly (Jolene Purdy), who books reservations.  They make up the main cast of stock characters who add to the standard lame sitcom wackiness.

With its disastrous reception and minuscule ratings, it was almost certain that Do Not Disturb would be cancelled before too long.  But one thing sets it apart from other short-lived series: the creators actually took a gambit and sent out a letter to various critics which essentially said, “we’re sorry we put out such a shitty product.”  Well, it wasn’t exactly that, it was more that they thought by airing an episode about work sex first instead of the actual pilot, which is, you know, supposed to go first, it didn’t accurately represent the show’s potential.  They also enclosed a DVD of another episode which they felt was better.  I’m not sure which one it was, but all three that actually aired (out of five total) none seemed to be one you’d want to show critics to make them change their minds.  Despite this bold move, Do Not Disturb was the first cancellation of the 2008 season, and has not been released on DVD.  At this point, I think it’s safe to say no one really wants it to be either.  The show has some good actors on it; like I said, Ferguson manages to be funny despite the weak writing, and Franco gets in a giggle here and there, but it’s just not fresh of funny enough to make it worth watching week after week.  At least Niecy Nash still gets to scold messy people on Clean House. O’Connell unfortunately will probably always be remembered as the fat kid from Stand By Me who’s not fat anymore.

So, should it be back on the air? not so much.  Somehow, I don’t think airing the pilot first would’ve done anything for this show, even if it were the most hilarious pilot ever made (I haven’t seen it, so I really don’t know, but somehow I doubt it).

Come back next time, when I’ll be watching a show that actually was a critical success, NBC’s Kings!  Is it as missed as everyone says it is?  We’ll see.

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