DVD-R Hell - Cavemen
July 31, 2013
Return of the Ewok
Pagan Invasion: Halloween, Trick or Treat?
(Open on Brad wearing a T-shirt that reads "Blaze Your Own Trail!")
Brad: Hey, you want to see a show that'll make you miss that sitcom about Hitler?
(Cut to footage of the show to be reviewed: Cavemen)
Brad (vo): Then sit your asses down and let's check out the show that everyone knew was gonna be... terrible. And... it was.
(Cut to footage of the Cavemen from the GEICO commercials)
Brad (vo): In 2004, the auto insurance company, GEICO, introduced us to their new marketing characters, the GEICO Cavemen. Sort of a send-up of modern political correctness, the joke was that these present-day cavemen exist among us in regular society.
Brad: (somewhat confused) Thus no longer making them cavemen, I guess...
Brad (vo): And they become easily offended at the company's slogan, "It's so easy, a caveman can do it." Which, if cavemen are a normal part of society, then sure, that comes across as an extremely racist thing for a company to not only say, but keep saying over the course of the campaign's several-year run!
Brad: And you know modern business practices: the second someone complains, they keep doing said offensive thing over and over again! (looks upset)
Brad (vo): More importantly, if I were a caveman, the slogan itself would upset me because it doesn't even make sense.
(Cut to a drawing of cavemen sitting around a fire)
Brad (vo): Cavemen gave us fire and the wheel.
(Cut to a shot of the GEICO gecko)
Brad (vo): GEICO gave us a talking gecko.
(Cut to a painting of Eegah)
Brad (vo): Now, if the slogan were, "It's so easy, Eegah could do it," then I would understand.
(Cut to a shot of Arch Hall, Jr.)
Brad (vo): That bastard couldn't even survive an Arch Hall, Jr., movie.
Brad: (burying his hands in his face) This is already the stupidest episode I've ever written.
(Cut to footage of the TV show)
Brad (vo): But you know what isn't easy? Television! Thanks to the 2007 series, Cavemen, if television were easy, then GEICO could do it. But they couldn't.
(Cut to shot of the failed TV series Baby Bob)
Brad (vo): You'd think people would have learned their lesson after the colossal failure of the also-based-on-a-commercial Baby Bob series. But I guess the lesson couldn't be learned, since no one fucking watched it and therefore are completely unaware of its dismal existence.
(Cut back to Cavemen)
Brad (vo): The entire marketing campaign itself is based on a one-joke premise, so they certainly have their work cut out for them: making a television series. Turns out the show was not only an unfunny one-joke premise, but also somewhat offensive! And it was canceled after airing only six episodes.
(Cut to an image of the Chicago Tribune's article on the top 25 worst shows ever)
Brad (vo): It later turned up on the Chicago Tribune's list of the 25 worst TV shows of all time...
(Cut to a shot of the TV Guide logo)
Brad (vo): ...and TV Guide's list of the biggest blunders in television history.
(Cut to another clip of Cavemen)
Brad (vo): The New York Post declared the show "extinct on arrival", and there's some truth to that.
Brad: Let's be honest: very few actually went into this show with an open mind. Upon even hearing the news that a series was gonna be made out of the GEICO Cavemen, this thing was written off as trash before even one word was written into the script.
Brad (vo): You can argue whether that's fair or unfair to the show or its creator Joe Lawson...
(Cut to a shot of the cast of Modern Family)
Brad (vo): ...who later went on to the much more highly acclaimed series Modern Family.
Brad: But regardless of any preset bias that people had going into the show, it's... still... not very good.
(Cut to footage of this show's unaired pilot)
Brad (vo): The bad luck all started with the series' unaired pilot, shot in 2007, which, after a disastrous test screening, did not see the light of day until a 2008 release on Australian television. But like other great shows, at least it gives us a little backstory in the opening, in case we have any questions.
(The title sequence is shown, revealing the history of cavemen throughout the times)
Narrator: Since the dawn of existence, only one noble race of human beings has withstood the test of time. Though many thought this unique breed of man was lost in the bitter winds of the Ice Age, here they are, among us, on the streets and sidewalks of modern life. These proud men and women may not look like you, but they're just like you. This is the story of three of them.
Brad: A couple things...
Brad (vo): Much like the commercials, they no longer live in caves, so really, it's just a show about guys with long hair and beards.
(Cut to a shot of the cast of Duck Dynasty)
Brad (vo): Which I guess is a fucking thing now!
(Cut to the opening of the show again)
Brad (vo): And why would we be completely unaware of their existence? One apparently ran for president, looks like this one was an astronaut... It seems like everyone should know they're among us.
(The show begins as the cavemen watch the news on TV)
Brad (vo): But right off the bat, the tone for the entire series is established.
Newswoman: A market on Dominion Avenue becomes the latest in a recent spree of night robberies.
(The store in question is shown being robbed by what looks like a caveman)
Newswoman: The robbery was caught by this in-store security camera...
Caveman #1 (Andy): (watching) Great. Why did it have to be a caveman?
Caveman #2 (Joel): Of course it's a caveman. They only put it on TV when it's a caveman.
Brad: Ha-ha! The cavemen are minorities! Except they're white...
Brad (vo): (noticing one caveman's hair sticking out) And they have an extra bone in their head...
Newswoman: The police have released this sketch. (to her right, a sketch of a caveman is displayed with the words "Primal Fury") Police are asking anybody...
Joel: I mean, look at that! Is that supposed to be one of us? That thing looks like a hairy baby raisin!
Brad: (looking quite disturbed) Believe me, I... I get the commentary, and I... I understand that they're trying to be clever... but there's not really a joke there, beyond him being called a raisin and being made up to look like a monkey. (chuckles nervously, then shrugs) Buy our insurance!
Brad (vo): But they aren't completely unrelatable.
Joel: (to a third caveman (Nick)) Don't put the empty waffle box back in the freezer, all right? It gives me the impression that we've actually got waffles.
Brad: I can totally sympathize. Sometimes I create the cheeseburger Hot Pockets, (gets angry) but somebody puts the empty box back in the freezer, thus crushing my buttery cheese-and-meat-stuffed heart, (looks offscreen) DAVE!
(On the show, another caveman is weather anchor for the news)
Brad (vo): Oh, and when one of them is a sellout, they're portrayed as stereotypically white!
Caveman Weather Anchor: I took this great shot across from the street my house just to show you, spring is in the air, which is really weird, (the weather forecast, which is relatively hot during the Fourth of July) 'cause it's summer! Real hot! (dons an Uncle Sam hat)
Joel: Are you kidding me with this guy? Look at him! This guy's a joke!
Brad: (feeling uncomfortable) Yeah... take that, Al Roker... (looks toward his cat, sitting on the back of his couch) Right?
Brad (vo): I'm sorry, this is bugging me. How oppressed can they be...
(Cut to a shot of the opening titles, in which a caveman is seen standing behind a presidential candidate holding up a newspaper whose headline reads, "Dewey Defeats Caveman")
Brad (vo): ...when one ran for president in the 1940s? And what does this even mean? If we're going by history here, did the caveman win the presidency? And is this implying that Truman is part caveman?
(Cut back to the show in progress)
Brad (vo): And with its continued race bait comparisons, it has the subtlety of a Nick Swarsdon stereotype.
(Joel is seen at his job at a Norwegian furniture store (a parody of IKEA); he is talking to a coworker, played by Swarsdon himself)
Brad (vo): Oh, God damn it, of course!
Coworker: (to Joel) I need a time of your timeout. Hard one. A half hour? Forty?
Brad: You may think this show is slightly cutting-edge because it doesn't have a laugh track, but I'm willing to bet that it does. It's just that unfunny.
(Cut back to the show)
Joel: (to the coworker) Actually, you see those people behind you?
Coworker: (looking behind him) Yeah?
Joel: Those are customers.
Coworker: Do I have to talk to them?
Joel: Go. Go, go!
Coworker: (walking away) What do I say?
Coworker: Help? I don't know what to say.
Brad (vo): There goes Swarsdon, thus robbing us of all the Bucky Larson magic that could've been brought to the show. As for our leads, there's Joel, whose plot revolves around being in a relationship with a white girl, and in a surprising bit of casting...
(Cut to a shot of Nick Kroll)
Brad (vo): ...stand-up comedian Nick Kroll plays Nick...
(Cut to a clip of the show featuring Kroll's character Nick)
Brad (vo): ...the slacker-style militant ultra-PC caveman, whom foes outrage at the drop of a hat. There's also Jamie, who was replaced in subsequent episodes by Superman Returns's Sam Huntington and renamed Andy. Joel wants dearly to get Kate's blessing from her father so that they can get married...
(Cut to a shot of the poster for Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?)
Brad' (vo): ...but think less Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?...
(Cut to a shot of the poster for Guess Who)
Brad (vo): ...and more Guess Who.
Joel: (to his girlfriend) Without his blessing, I just feel like he's not accepting me, you know, especially after what happened.
Girlfriend: Baby, that wasn't that big of a deal.
Joel: I hit in the head with a golf club.
Brad: Okay, why did you hit him in the head with a golf club?
Girlfriend: He was surprised more than anything else, really.
Joel: I just hated to play right into the stereotype.
Brad: Ha ha ha ha, yeah, it's like clubbing him in the head, 'cause he's a caveman. Okay, why did this happen?
Girlfriend: Have I ever told you that I've always had a thing for cowboys?
Brad: Okay, never mind. I guess more important shit to tend to.
Brad (vo): (seeing Nick dressed as a cowboy) This guy looks like Hank Williams, Jr., right after the accident. But you got to hand it to Nick Kroll; he is a genuinely funny stand-up who really tries his damnedest in a show where he really didn't have to. But I'm glad he did.
Joel: (addressing another caveman) You know what this reminds me of? The time I saw Boys Don't Cry with my mom. That's how uncomfortable I am right now.
Brad: That would be funnier than what I've seen so far, because some of these analogies are starting to make less and less sense.
Nick: (to Joel) You don't even know these people.
Joel: No, I do know these people. They've been oppressing our people for 750,000 years.
Brad: Really? That long ago? How are you being oppressed in a time period when there was nothing but cavemen?
Brad (vo): Another amazing fact: the show went eight whole minutes before making its first Flintstones reference.
Joel: Hey, you watch TV, it's all politically correct, but they aired The Flintstones six times a day. I mean, it's just freakin' hypocritical.
Joel: Seriously, don't– don't do that.
Brad: At least a laugh track thought that The Flintstones was funny, and that show was animated. Why the hell did that have a laugh track?
Nick: I hate to break it to you, Jamie, but, um... WE'RE CAVEMEN!
Brad: Again, no, you're not! You live in an apartment! That's like saying everyone in the human race is five years old. Yeah, we were five – once.
(The cavemen walk along, dressed in cowboy duds)
Brad (vo): Seriously, they just look like '70s porn stars. I'm waiting for them reenact Forced Entry, not spew out caveman jokes. The cavemen are invited to a function at Kate's father's country club, and in case you forgot they're supposed to represent minorities, they'll remind you – again.
Jamie: (as the cavemen drive to the country club in cowboy duds) I was gonna wear this regardless.
Nick: Yeah, I was wondering what Reba McEntire would look like if she was a Cro-Magger.
Joel: Please don't use that word!
Brad: Ha-ha, ha-ha-ha! 'Cause it's kinda reminiscent of that one word... oh, what is it? Um, uh... ninjas! Oh, wait, no, that's not the one.
Brad (vo): And why is Nick in on this joke? He's the one who's been so uber-P.C. about cavemen relations this entire episode. (the cavemen approach the White Neck Country Club) By the way, it's a predominantly white country club, so...
Joel: (to security guard) Can you please check the list again?
Security guard: (examining clipboard) Last name?
Joel: Again, it's Claybrook.
Security guard: I have no pass for Claybrook.
Joel: (getting back in car) I'll try Kate again.
Nick: What a shocker, no pass for the Maggers.
Brad: Maggers?! I'm watching a car full of white guys complaining about racial slurs that they're calling themselves! That's not even stupid white people problems, that's just bad writing! And Maggers? That sounds like a pet name someone would give their grandma.
Brad (vo): Oh, what about its ultra-hip soundtrack?
(The cavemen arrive at the party to Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl")
Brad (vo): Not only is Jet offended to be in this series, but so is the rift from Lust For Life. But that's not all. Look! They snuck in, by driving around the place in a golf cart, 'cause I guess that'll work.
(Another rock song plays as the cavemen drive onto the party in the golf cart)
Brad: The song isn't for them. They're just playing it because Uncle Buck showed up.
Kate's friend: I think you're a genius. This must just drive your dad completely insane.
Brad: Yeah, but not because of the whole race thing, but because you're in the show Cavemen.
Kate's friend: What's his sex like? Is it true what everyone says?
Brad (vo): Well, of course they got big dicks, but not because they're supposed to be black, but because I'm still convinced that they're John Holmes, Ron Jeremy and Harry Reems.
Kate: Thanks for dressing up, Nick.
Nick: Thanks for inviting us, Kate.
Brad: (shrugs) He did dress up. Don't you see the stupid makeup he's wearing?
(Tripp, John Heard's character, is seen drinking at the party)
Brad (vo): And holy shit, John Heard was in something even deadlier than The Sharknado!
Kate: (to Joel) I told you, he just has a weird way of showing affection. (Joel grunts) When I won a spelling bee in fourth grade, he gave me a box of steaks, for crying out loud.
Brad: Yeah, but that was in his (a poster of Cutter and Bone pops up) Cutter and Bone days. He was a bit more intense back then.
Brad (vo): And since this is the South, and there's old people here, something racist is gonna happen.
Kate: (gesturing toward an elderly lady) Nick, this is Mrs. Winston. She is actually the president-general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Brad: (perplexed) I'm sorry, is this... is this implying that the Civil War... was fought over cavemen?
Brad (vo): In fact, do black people even exist in this universe? Because if not, all this proves is that we as a society need to be so racist about something that simply guys with a lot of hair will do! Or is it because they're the most slapsticky of the bunch?
(In pantomiming a golf swing to a man in a white cowboy hat, Joel accidentally hits an old woman walking by)
Joel: (to woman) Oh! I am so sorry! (she is helped away, while the man in the hat glowers at Joel) No, she's fine. She's fine. You're fine, right? (the man walks away in disgust)
Brad (vo): Why is that guy so pissed? It was clearly an accident.
Brad: And it's sad that one of the few ways that I know that there are other races in this universe is because of this line...
Kate: (to Jamie, as they dance to a disco beat) Where did you learn to dance like that?
Jamie: Soul Train.
Kate: You watched Soul Train?
Brad: Once again, Don Cornelius answering all of life's little questions, even if said question is about the Cavemen series.
Brad (vo): The rest of the show is just shenanigans at the country club, a lot of being extremely random.
Kate: (watching the cavemen commingle with white men) They seem to be getting along pretty well, right?
Kate's mother: I'm cheating on your father.
Brad (vo): (as Kate's mother) And by the way, I definitely have breast cancer. (normal) Nick tries to teach Joel to be more manly and assertive, so Nick challenges the snooty club members to a game of horseshoes.
Club member: I've been playing for $20 a game, son.
Nick: Oh, isn't that cute? I'd say we should play for a Hyundai, but I don't want you girls to wet your panties.
Brad (vo): I really love how Kroll is both too good for this show, and clearly knows it.
Club member: (laughing, about Nick) This guy! I like this boy!
Brad: Yeah, that's because he's making you laugh. Otherwise, you'd hate his guts.
Brad (vo): Kroll is the only one who escapes this with his dignity still intact, which is a bit more than I can say about the Dudemeister from Scrubs.
(The Dudemeister is seen dancing with Andy and Kate)
Dudemeister: (to Kate) Gone? Well, where were you on Saturday? What, you don't like Dave Matthews anymore?
Brad: Someone in Cavemen can't judge someone else for their taste.
Brad (vo): Joel finally gets his chance to talk to Kate's dad... in the bathroom. There's so much class in this scene, I'm waiting for him to call him the Godfocker.
Tripp: (to Joel) Let me tell you something, son: no daughter of mine is ever gonna wash her clothes with a rock.
Brad: They haven't lived in caves in tens of thousands of years! That's like if he were afraid that you were gonna throw him into a den of lions!
Brad (vo): Damn it, John Heard, you were After Hours! The casting here is just weird. Hell, in a later episode, Progressive Flo turns up.
(The episode in question shows a caveman at a job interview with the interviewer being played by Stephanie Courtney, who plays the aforementioned Flo of Progressive fame)
Interviewer: We honor over two dozen winter holidays: New Year's, Dongji, Makara Sankranti, the Incas' Inti Raymi... not including the human sacrifice, of course...
Brad: Fuck making a series about Flo. Make one about this guy...
(Cut to a commercial for Little Caesar's Pizza, showing a man whose right arm is in a cast receiving a pizza)
Female clerk: One Hot-N-Ready pizza, five dollars.
(The man reaches his left hand into his left pocket, but comes up with nothing; screaming in frustration, he throws his cast arm down to reach his right pocket, tearing up the cast in the process; smiling, he pulls out some money from his right pocket)