Fans looking for an “Arrested Development“ reprisal won’t find it in “Sit Down, Shut Up,“ Mitch Hurwitz’s latest venture in television that premiered on Sunday on Fox.
As with “Arrested,“ dysfunction is the key theme in “Sit Down, Shut Up,“ which focuses on the less-than-upstanding faculty of a Florida public high school. This cast includes a spiritual science teacher, a sexually aggressive librarian and an oblivious ass principal.“
The show is based on the short-lived Australian TV show of the same name. Only thing is, the original was live action; Hurwitz had to change the format to animated when his original pitch didn’t work out.
Though it lacks the quick, quirky humor that “Arrested“ fans loved, the show still shares some key elements: The self-referential humor, flashbacks, an equally eccentric – if not slightly clichéd – cast of characters and the same “love it or hate it“ quality many short-lived shows have.
As an animated series, “Sit Down, Shut Up“ has a certain format to follow. Because voiceovers and illustrations don’t pick up nuances nearly as well as live action and facial expressions, everything has to be exaggerated or rely on gag humor in cartoons. “Family Guy“ uses a lot of pop culture references because otherwise it’d be just another show about a dysfunctional family. “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” is just bizarre; how else would it make a name for itself?
Based on its colorful cast, “Sit Down, Shut Up” will probably be a character-driven show. However, one key component missing in this is sincere character interaction – a kinda funny montage of the faculty winking at each other in this Sunday’s episode doesn’t match the Chicken Dance sequence of “Arrested Development.“
The show also brings over some familiar faces (or voices, rather): Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Henry Winkler all play some sort of cartoon counterpart to their “Arrested Development” characters – Bateman’s the idyllic straight man, Arnett is essentially Gob Bluth in cartoon form and Winkler again is the pathetic sad sack with a pervy disposition. Rounding out the cast are a couple of “Saturday Night Live” alumni, including Cheri Oteri, Will Forte and Keenan Thompson
Design-wise, “Sit Down, Shut Up” separates itself from the other animated series on Fox’s “Animation Domination” Sunday night line-up. Animator Mo Willems (“Sheep in the Big City,” “The Off-Beats“) has an “Adult Swim” approach to his images: flat, 2D characters set against a live-action background.
Despite any apprehension, the show does have promise, and the cast behind it has proven to be more than capable comedians. Let’s just hope that the show finds its groove before it becomes short-lived but without the love.
RACHEL FILIPINAS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.