Screen savors

Chris Rock dishes out tame stereotypes by the dozen in "Everybody Hates Chris."

chris rock 88.298 (photo credit: )
chris rock 88.298
(photo credit: )
G-g-g-gimme th-th-th-that r-r-r-remote co-co-co-control!! OK, we admit we're still a little shaky after going, cold turkey, on vacation for 10 days with nothing to watch but French TV. Believe us, you don't want to spend your mornings with a bunch of teenagers cackling over Fresh Prince of Bel Air in French. Still, besides almost losing the kids at the Eiffel Tower - the little brats finally found us, darn it - we can't complain. Nah, we save that for here, where on our return we discovered that nothing really changes on Israeli TV. So we weren't particularly surprised that after Channel 2 gave us wannabe singers and then wannabe dancers, we're about to get wannabe... workforce members who do stage numbers. What's next, MKs begging viewers for forgiveness ahead of the slammer? Oops, we've already got those... What really ticked us off, however, was the continuing audacity of Channel 2. We clocked Sunday night's slam-bang episode of Nip/Tuck, one of our favorites. The program itself is about 50 minutes long, and started at 11:30 p.m. One news flash, about two dozen commercials and innumerable promos later, we'd practically lost any dramatic tension, and the clock read 00:53. That's just inexcusable. On the other hand, some offerings this week were just too short. Take the Bip Channel's recent addition, Everybody Hates Chris, (Sundays, Bip Channel, 23:15) or as it should really be called, Chris Rock Lite. The popular black comedian, who made a career out of a brash, often X-rated and abrasive persona in his stand-up act, has gone all Eddie Murphy/Bill Cosby on us here. Those of you who have Murphy's earlier stand-up albums (Eddie Murphy Raw, for example) can appreciate that he was much funnier doing a routine about a gay Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton of The Honeymooners than doing Daddy Daycare. Here Rock, obviously trying to widen his appeal, talks about growing up in the Brooklyn of 1982. While in the rough Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, Chris's mom wants the best for her son, and has him bused to all-white Corleone Junior High School, where he and his geeky friend Greg are the targets of harassment by bullies and other junior high phenomena. Rock himself supplies the narration, breaking in periodically for wry comments that are practically the only funny thing in this mediocre UPN effort that features Chris's annoying younger brother Drew and his spoiled sister Tanya, his overworked Dad and his loving if smothering mother. This week's episode focused on... sausages, particularly the huge crate of them Drew's father managed to buy cheaply, but the show's writers bit off more than they could chew, even with Rock describing his Mom's face as she was about to whack him one: "That look means: Get in this house before I smack the wax out of your ears." Hold the phone. We're talking Chris Rock here, the guy whose stand-up act we had to turn way down when the little kids in our family were around. But that's all been watered down for this portrayal of 13-year-old Chris, whose antics may occasionally seem familiar - we loved watching him get "detention" in the "detention room" with its blackboard of commandments: No talking, No eating, No sleeping - but just aren't enough to elicit many belly laughs. In fact, Rock's family seems way too stereotypical for what he lays down in his act: the hardworking but essentially backward father; the lioness, do anything for her children mother; and the two siblings. Everybody in our house hates stereotypes, especially stereotypes that are only mildly funny. Kids may get a chuckle out of this family comedy, but then they'll probably miss it, as Bip's showing it at 23:15. It also wins a prize for the fastest comedy in Hollywood, clocking out already by about 23:35. The actors, particularly Terry Crews as Chris's dad and Tyler James Williams as the young Rock, are fine, but somehow it wasn't quite enough. Maybe we could've related more if Chris's parents had lost him at the Empire State Building.... You certainly could do worse than stopping in at Rock's old 'hood, but this show seems a bit too tame to really represent it, even if it is a big hit in the US. Sorry, Chris, but drab TV is drab TV in any language.