“Chozen” Not the One
Kevin Noonan | Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Another day, another website for The Observer. With new and exciting technology comes a new and exciting Scene series, a series which you will only be able to find on the website.
One new feature we’re debuting this semester (in addition to others, all of which you should check out!) is regular television coverage of a select number of shows. A Scene writer will review and discuss each episode of their chosen series each week after it airs, or as soon as they can get to a streaming service to watch it. So far we’re covering Lena Dunham’s “Girls” from HBO, “Archer” and its new, blown up premise on FX, Dan Harmon and his return to “Community” on NBC, the weekend stalwart comedy show “Saturday Night Live” and HBO’s new, star-studded, limited-run series, “True Detective.”
Some coverage of these shows will appear in the print edition of the newspaper, but the weekly episode reviews will only be published online. If you watch these shows or are interested in them, I encourage you to follow our coverage and pipe in with your own thoughts on the website. If you don’t watch these shows but you do watch television, keep an eye out as we’re still looking to add more shows as the winter/spring television season plugs along (“Game of Thrones,” for instance, is a can’t-miss).
One show we won’t be covering online, for a number of reasons, is FX’s latest foray into animated comedy, “Chozen.” The show, which comes from the producers of HBO’s “Eastbound & Down” and FX’s “Archer,” features the voice talent of Bobby Moynihan as Chozen, a homosexual rapper recently released from prison after being framed for crimes by former partner Phantasm, voiced by Method Man.
The show presented a number of interesting premises and showed promise on paper. The creative team was responsible for two of the most popular and critically revered comedies in the last five years. The voice actors included known entities like Moynihan from “Saturday Night Live,” Method Man from the Wu-Tang Clan and Danny McBride from “Eastbound & Down,” as well as rising stars like Hannibal Buress and Michael Peña as Crisco and Ricky, respectively, Chozen’s two rapper-producer friends. FX has over the last few years proven itself trustworthy for comedies, backing projects like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Louie” and “Archer.”
On top of that, the premise of the show included building blocks that, if not necessarily classic comedy material, at least indicated that this show would try something different than a typical animated comedy or sitcom ¾ namely, the main character is a gay rapper. As has been said often and elsewhere, the golden age of television, from “The Sopranos” to whenever “Mad Men” has its seemingly obligatory New Year’s Eve 1969 series finale episode, has featured fantastic storytelling and fascinating characters, but has still focused mostly on straight, white men. The simple fact that the creators of the show centered their story on a homosexual character sets it apart from your average show. That doesn’t mean that it will necessarily be a good show or a bad show, it just means it has the opportunity to tell different stories than we normally see on television.
But, at least in the series premiere, “Chozen” commits the number one sin of comedy ¾ it isn’t funny. Whatever else the show tries to achieve is dragged to the bottom of the sea by the cement block that is the show’s plodding pace, stale jokes and general lack of wit. Almost all of the gags in the episode play on Chozen’s sexual orientation, and while the jokes are not necessarily offensive, they just aren’t that funny, and they’re certainly not doing anything to rise above or tweak stereotypes. But more than all of that, it just isn’t funny at all.
That’s not to say the show can’t turn around. There’s a solid recent history of comedies turning around after a few episodes or even a whole season of trying to find their footing, including the now-critically lauded “Parks and Recreation” on NBC. But unless they start turning some jokes and speeding up the pace of the show, this animated program will be on the scrap heap before you know it.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org