Joey Season opener 13th February 2005

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As the Friends spin off hits Channel Five, Karon Hollis wonders "what were they thinking?"

Joey Channel Five 13 February 2004.  Season premiere and Episode Two.

Joey, the spin off from Friends, which centres around arguably one of the least interesting characters from its mother series, hit the ground to a luke warm critical reception.

On first viewing of the opening episode its not hard to see why.  Right from the opening titles we can see that the producers are trying very hard to say "this is a different show."

The opening credits for Friends were, well, friendly.  The characters do funny quirky little things from episodes.  You have the visual "clapping" gag.  All the main Friends cast are equally billed.   The opening titles for Joey, feature Joey driving down a road and trying to look cool. The whole joke with Joey in Friends was that he wasn't cool.  He thinks he is cool, and he was successful with the ladies, but he was never a cool character.  The producers are trying to tell the audience that this character is something we already know that he is not.  Just like one of Joey's many girlfriends, the wool is being pulled over our eyes. it immediately made me feel uneasy.

Interestingly, the opening titles also only feature Matt le Blanc - there is no equal billing as there was on Friends.  We are in no doubt who is the star of this show. Matt le Blanc has obviously been putting in overtime developing the size of his stomach over the last eight or so years, so let's hope he stops concentrating on hamburgers and starts concentrating on being funny, as befits the star of the show.

The episode took a while to get going. Initially we get bogged down with meeting all the characters.  This is not done in a clever way, with a strong narrative, instead Joey merely seems to "bump" into the rest of the characters.  We quickly meet Joey's sister Gina (Drea de Matteo who plays Adriana in  The Sopranos), a female version of Joey, who is both cleverer, sassier and strangely more stupid than Joey at various points in the first two episodes.  Having read that the producers are aiming to make Joey cleverer than he was on Friends to help him carry the show, I can only assume that Gina is meant to fill his "stupid" role.  Gina has a son Michael, an Elijah Wood look-a-like with not much charisma if the first two shows are anything to go by.  He seems a caricature at this stage, and needs lots of work to bring him up to scratch as a workable sitcom character.

As possible supporting roles we then have Alex, the married neighbour and building superintendant.  She seems to be Joey's love interest and as the husband has not been introduced yet, I can only assume that all is not well in that relationship.  She doesn't seem a very interesting character at this moment in time; She has none of the quirks that made the Friends female characters so endearing. Oddly both Joey and Michael seem to find her attractive, I couldn't see it myself, mis-casting perhaps?Another supporting character and one that I hope will develop more is the role of Joey's agent.  At last a character with a bit of bite! Hopefully they will use her more as the episode really picked up when she was on screen.

Overall, the episodes were okay, but I could understand the reception the series got.  it feels rushed with half baked characters and scripts.  Friends humour was largely driven by the strong characters and their reactions to certain situations that they were placed in.  With Joey, this seems to be very lacking. Without the strength of characters I am unsure where they are going to get the humour from. For the meantime, I'll continue watching and see what develops.


Page Last Updated Wednesday, April 06, 2005 at 15:49:23