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Commercial success: Cavemen make leap to sitcom

Mark Witte | Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The famous Geico Neanderthals have a new home – the 8 p.m. time slot on ABC.

The show will focus on the lives of three Neanderthals, Joel (Bill English), Andy (Sam Huntington), and Nick (Nick Kroll) living as “the world’s smallest minority” in modern day San Diego.

According to ABC Medianet, “Joel, Nick and Andy have to overcome prejudice from most of the Homosapien world and the misconceptions that modern society has of its earliest ancestors.”

Three years ago, the car insurance company that became famous for its slogan, “Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance,” hit television airwaves with a series of Neanderthal-themed commercials advocating the company’s simplicity.

The commercials revolved around Neanderthals taking offense to the slogan “Geico: So easy a caveman could do it.”

Created by Joe Lawson of the Martin Advertising Agency, the commercials were popular enough to merit 11 different ads over a three-year period, as well as the creation of an interactive-online site, “The Caveman’s Crib.” One of the cavemen even made a cameo during Super Bowl XLI.

However, Lawson and Geico’s biggest Neanderthal accomplishment may have yet to be seen.

In March, ABC gave the go-ahead for production on a Lawson-scripted pilot inspired by his GEICO commercials. Under “Blades of Glory” directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck, the pilot was picked up by ABC.

It was slated to run for 13 episodes. Tonight at 8 p.m., Lawson’s “Cavemen” will make the transition from a 30-second time slot to a 30-minute one.

The show promises to pose a unique perspective on political correctness, but can it stand up to the Tuesday night competition?

Last year FOX’s “American Idol” and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” dominated Tuesday nights, receiving the second and third highest rating on television behind only the Wednesday night showing of “American Idol.” “Dancing with the Stars” has since vacated Tuesday’s 8 p.m. slot, where “Cavemen” will now club away at CBS’s “NCIS,” FOX’s “Bones,” and NBC’s “Singing Bee.”

“Bones” and “NCIS” have run for three and five seasons, respectively, and the shows have had a consistent and fervid following. The “Singing Bee,” which aired for the first time in July, received the second highest rating of that week, second only to the 2007 MLB All-Star Game.

This fact does not bode well for the fledgling “Cavemen” and ABC. It is likely that the competition will not be friendly to these ambitious Neanderthals.

Despite the popularity of the advertisement, whether the caveman joke will continue to be funny and popular enough to support a full-fledged sitcom remains to be seen.