Thursday, May 24, 2007

Review: The ½ Hour News Hour

Last night I watched The ½ Hour News Hour. This is Fox News Channel's answer to The Daily Show. I'd previously panned the pilot, as did many critics, but you should never really judge a show by its pilot. I gave it another chance. It still sucks.

Now, some people will think I didn't like it because it's right-wing, but I can laugh at stuff I don't agree with politically. I find The Savage Nation laugh-out-loud funny, for example. (Granted, the humor there is largely unintentional, but trust me, if Michael Savage were doing exactly the same show but intending it as parody, he'd be a comedy genius.) The ½ Hour News Hour didn't make me laugh. It didn't offend me, either. It just bored me.

Part of the problem is the cast. The anchors don't sell the news show concept; instead of acting like real news anchors, which should be part of the joke, they self-consciously ham up the punchlines and wag their eyebrows at the audience. If this makes you think of SNL's Weekend Update, you've got the right idea.

The main problem here, though, is the writing. The jokes are mostly lame one-liner zingers. The best sketch in the entire show, a fake commercial for a "Road to Surrender commemorative plate set," is just a rehashing of a tired conservative talking point. What makes The Daily Show engaging is there are real insights underlying the humor. It makes you look at politics and the media in a different light. There's none of that here. There's also none of The Daily Show's pointed media criticism, and it's missed -- Jon Stewart skewers other media personalities even more often than he skewers Republicans, and his show is much better for it.

Okay, so the sketch comedy is awful. The show could have recovered from that if it had something else to offer -- guest interviews, or maybe Daily Show-style field correspondents talking to unsuspecting lefties. But there's none of that here. Just awful news one-liners interspersed with awful sketches.

Look, there are funny conservatives out there. Fox needs to go find them and get them to rescue this piece of junk. What's P.J. O'Rourke doing these days?

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