Tuesday, September 9, 2008

BET Actually Spends Some Money On A Show! And It Doesn't Suck.

[Editor's Update: I watched one of last night's episodes of Somebodies this morning while getting ready, and it shocks me to say this, but BET actually has a good show on their hands. The amateurish sets and somewhat novice actors are going to scare away some folks, I know. But the show is actually very funny and shows an aspect of Black life seldom depicted. It's not quite A Different World, but it ain't Boyz In The Hood either.

It's really just a show about a bunch of twentysomething black folks trying to be upwardly mobile and the stuff typical black folks go through on the daily. The small nuances like "townie" neighbors who always ask to borrow your phone, the preacher who has a sidekick that reads scriptures for him, and people who "season" their hot dogs before grilling them are minor details that give the show more everyday folks authenticity than a typical sitcom. Plus, there's no laughtrack and no grown assed men in drag. Fight the temptation to bash all things Bob Johnson and give this show a chance. You will prolly find yourself pleasantly surprised.]

I've more or less made bashing BET a hobby here at AB.com, but even a notorious hater like me admits their latest move is somewhat interesting.

Finding a high-quality scripted series on BET is about as likely as finding a smart comedy on MTV, WE or Travel Channel. It just doesn't happen. Until now.

Improbably, one of the best new fall comedies isn't on a broadcast channel, it's on BET. "Somebodies" (10:30 p.m. Tuesday with two episodes airing back-to-back) is based on a movie of the same name that unspooled at the 2006 Dramatic Independent Film Competition at Sundance. The film has yet to see theatrical release, but that didn't stop BET from partnering with the movie's director/writer/star, the one-named Hadjii, to turn it into a weekly series.

The film's cast made the move to the TV show, which follows Scottie (Hadjii, who also wrote all 10 episodes of the first season) in his daily life as a "professional student" in a small Southern town (the show filmed in Athens, Ga.). He's still friendly with his ex-girlfriend, Diva (Kaira Akita), hangs with his longtime buddies, attends church regularly and seeks advice from his aunt and uncle. Now he's getting ready to finally graduate, and his thoughts turn to the real world and growing up.
Okay, so that doesn't sound too enticing. Peep the YouTube excerpt.

Uh, alrighty then. Not great, not terrible.

Somebodies appears to feature a cast full of nobodies, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Simply throwing an infamous name (Under One Roof) or even a legit box office success (Tyler Perry's House of Payne) behind a show is no guarantee of quality. The show seems to be reasonably sensible in its' approach, although it seems made on the predictably shoestring budget. Still, the fact that it's not a video, reality, or game show is a first for BET. They presumably actually had to hire real writers and actually pay them real wages to produce this. That's notable in and of itself, even if the show sucks, which it very well might.

Still, there's something to be said for a sitcom produced and written by one of "us". Lame as that sounds, it's good enough reason for me to Tivo the season premiere for a rainy day. I'll give it a look.

Question: Do you think BET's Somebodies looks decent or is it some ole' UPN/WB reject? Will you give it a look?

The Somebodies Official Website [BET.com]

It's no joke: BET comedy is among the fall's best [Pitt Post Gazette]

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