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Corddry's Career Suicide Move: 'The Winner'


Back now with DAY TO DAY. I'm Luke Burbank.


I'm Madeleine Brand.

In a moment, we'll hear what the critic have to say about "Zodiac" and the other movies hitting theaters this weekend.

BURBANK: But first there's a new Fox sitcom debuting Sunday. It's staring guy named Rob Corddry who you might know as one of the correspondents on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." This was a bit that he did on "The Daily Show" called "This Week in God."

(Soundbite of show, "This Week in God")

Mr. ROB CORDDRY (Actor): (As Himself) Hello and welcome to "This Week in God." If there's anything in recent events the Middle East have shown us, it's that the children are the future of religious wars.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CORDDRY: So it's important for a faith to maintain its appeal. How do they capture young people other than literally?

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: Rob Corddry's new show on Fox is called "The Winner" but critic Andrew Wallenstein isn't quite ready to declare victory.

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN: We can't blame Rob Corddry for leaving "The Daily Show." It's been such a reliable launch pad for showbiz glory, counting Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert among its alumni.

But Corddry proves "The Daily Show" pedigree is no guarantee for success with his atrocious new Fox sitcom "The Winner." Whatever slight charm he possessed on Comedy Central is nowhere to be found. In fact, you might want to avert your eyes rather than watch this sad exercise in career suicide.

The sitcom is set in 1994, the year life starts turning around for lovable loser Glen Abbott who's played by Corddry. Abbott is an unemployed 32-year-old, still living with his parents. His father, played by Lenny Clarke, is none too happy about that.

(Soundbite of show, "The Winner")

Mr. LENNY CLARKE (Actor): (As Ron) Son, I'm worried about you. You're spending more and more time in your room everyday.

Mr. ROB CORDDRY (Actor): (As Glen Abbott) I'm watching our book. Dad, you know that. An action-filled yarn with lots of heart.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CLARKE: (As Ron) Cut the crap. There's no book and there never has been.

WALLENSTEIN: If you're starting to feel a little deja vu, there's a reason for that. It's a rip off of the sublimely inane Fox sitcom "Get a Life," a cult classic from the early 1990s. In that show, Chris Elliott played a 30-something unemployed loser who still lives with his parents.

Paradoxical as it sounds, it takes a certain kind of genius to play an idiot and Corddry can't pull it off the way Elliot did. At least, "The Winner" tries to be a little different. The show is centered around Glen's seemingly unrequited fondness for his childhood crush, Allison.

She has a young son, Josh who becomes something of a protege to Glen. They're a suitable match because they are equally pathetic. Here is Josh, played by Keir Gilchrist, bouncing potential pick up lines off Glen to use on a crush of his own.

(Soundbite of show, "The Winner")

Mr. KEIR GILCHRIST (Actor): (As Josh) How about, are you new in town? And if not, from where do you originally hail, Madam?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CORDDRY: (As Glen Abbott) Not bad.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CORDDRY: (As Glen Abbott) Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. I've got it. Do you know CPR, because you just took my breath away?

BURBANK: "The Winner" was created by Seth MacFarlane and Ricky Blitt, producers of the hilarious animated comedy "Family Guy." Like that show "The Winner" is drenched in 1990s cultural references but they come across really stale in a live action setting. "The Winner" isn't just set in 1994, it feels like it was made in 1994 and has the over-enthused can laughter to prove it.

I hope the paycheck Corddry receives for "The Winner" have a lot of zeros in it. He doesn't deserve it but he'll need it because he probably won't be working for a while after "The Winner" gets cancelled.

BURBANK: Yikes. Andrew Wallenstein is an editor with the Hollywood Reporter. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrew Wallenstein
Andrew Wallenstein is the television critic for NPR's Day to Day. He is also an editor at The Hollywood Reporter, where he covers television and digital media out of Los Angeles. Wallenstein is also the co-host of the weekly TV Guide Channel series Square Off. His essay on Holocaust films was published in Best Jewish Writing 2003 (Jossey-Bass), and he has also written for The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Business Week. He has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.
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