I Rawk

If you want to sink the boots into I Rock – and it’s an Australian show, so who doesn’t – it seems that attacking its credibility is the way to go. We’ve already had this review pointed out to us; Helen Razer takes a similar tack in the latest Australian Rolling Stone. Only problem is, last time I watched an episode of I Rock, the word “documentary” didn’t seem to appear anywhere. And if someone passed a law saying that all comedy dealing with a subculture had to accurately reflect that subculture… well, we’d better get those Hogan’s Heroes repeats off the air quick-smart.

Sure, you can get laughs and plenty of them from really going into a subject in depth. It sure worked for Frontline. But to pull an example out of nowhere, no-one sane attacked Fraiser for not accurately replicating the working conditions of a radio psychiatrist. I’m guessing most nuclear power plants aren’t like the one Homer Simpson works in, most party hire outfits aren’t like the one in Party Down, most community colleges aren’t like the one in Community, very few law firms resemble Welcher & Welcher in the slightest, and, well, hopefully you get the idea.

I Rock’s real problem is that the niche it so clearly should be occupying – the “yoof TV” drama slot – no longer exists. So, like pretty much every other show these days that isn’t a flat-out super-serious drama, it gets labeled “comedy”.  Not “documentary”, mind you and not “re-enactment” either.

So if you’re going to sink the boots into I Rock, how about pointing out that the entire cast – with the possible exception of the feisty lesbian – can’t seem to act? Or that the last thing anyone needs is yet another show built entirely around an annoying, self-centered prick? Or that, for a show labeled comedy, there seems to be a remarkable lack of jokes past having the lead piss people off? Why is it so difficult to simply dismiss the show on the basis that, for all the effort that’s gone into making it, very little effort seems to have gone into trying to make it funny?

No doubt it’s annoying for people working in the music biz to see the reality of their situation misrepresented yet again. But it’s even more annoying for the rest of us to see yet another ABC “comedy” series that turns out to be little more than a vanity project for the writer / producer / star where said star simply acts like a dickhead and expects everyone else to laugh. It’s as if the entire spectrum of comedy has shrunk down to one tiny sub-Office point. And this is coming from someone who actually likes The Librarians.

I Rock is instantly forgettable, totally unconvincing, only marginally entertaining and packed to the ceiling with clichés and banal observations that bare little relation to reality. All of which comes a distant second to the fact that it’s simply not very funny. Around these parts, that’s all that counts.

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  • You’re right insofar as calling I Rock (or anything like it) a failure *because* of its lack of realism is completely missing the point. But as far as whether a TV series having any connection to its real-like setting actually matters, I’d draw a distinction between most of the shows you mentioned in the second paragraph, in which the job is largely an excuse for the characters to act around it, and shows like Frontline, where the whole thing would have been meaningless if they’d been working anywhere else.

    It’s like the difference between The Larry Sanders Show, about 90% of which is people dealing with the stresses of the job they’re paid to do, and 30 Rock, where the same job is just a place for some comedy characters to run around in (and an excuse for some of them to be famous and obscenely wealthy).

    My point is, realism is no substitute for comedy, but it certainly helps to generate a certain kind of comedy. So I s’pose what this means for I Rock is that since they’re not even trying on the realism front, they’d better make the characters and the stories and the jokes justify the whole thing regardless. And it’s not looking promising so far.

  • Doug says:

    I Rock’s second episode was more like normal Australian comedies, it was pretty boring and I had to try hard to find where the jokes were. It failed all together. It tried to be clever but it just wasn’t. And I agree when a comedy isn’t funny just saying it’s a drama doesn’t make it okay.

    With the lead character being an asshole, I think that could work as long as in the end there is an ironic twist that he ends up burning himself. They tried to achieve this but it just makes you feel awkward because he just embarrasses himself and goes completely out of character.

    In the first episode there was a few sight gags and in the end, the people the main character scorned were well off and he wasn’t, so I thought it was okay.

    I don’t really care about the realism because the situation they’re in is supposed to set up the jokes, so of course a lot of the time they will be playing to crowds. However Splendor in the grass? Christian rock festival? Yeah that is pushing it.

    I think I’ll stop watching. Good review. I’ll fall back into obscurity now.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Yeah, the second episode of I Rock was a bit of a step down, which is the wrong direction for a show that wasn’t that flash in the first place.

    As far as realism goes, the whole thing is made up – so there’s no reason why they can’t play for big crowds IF THEY’RE SLIGHTLY MORE SUCCESSFUL. Making them a struggling band that still gets big gigs could work IF THE SHOW WAS MORE FANTASTIC.

    It’s the devotion to an idea of reality – one that mixes the worst of both words, with the boring look of real life but the dull unreality of daydreams – that makes this a mess worth missing. And it’s a “reality” that a lot of comedy shows seem to adopt (I’m looking at you, Lowdown)