Preview: The Knights of Prosperity

The Knights of Prosperity



In the US: ABC, Wednesdays, 8pm. Starting January 3rd.

In the UK: Not yet acquired, and I suspect never will be

Knights of Prosperity? Dumb name for a show, huh. Very dumb given the previous name of the show was Let’s Rob Mick Jagger.

Now that’s a name I can work with. After all, it’s almost impossible to look at Mick Jagger and to avoid thinking, “You know, I’d really like to rob him.”

But Knights of Prosperity? It means nothing. As a result, I’m predicting a great big floparoo.

Project: Let’s Rob Mick Jagger

The set-up for this particular comedy is dumb, too. Floor cleaner Eugene has been dreaming of a better life for years. He’d like to open his own bar. He’d like to be rich.

Unfortunately, he isn’t and probably never will be. His dreams of bar-ownership will never get anywhere with his particular ‘irregular’ business plan. One day, while watching a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous type show, he sees the interior of Mick Jagger’s apartment and decides enough is enough. He’s going to rob Mick Jagger to achieve his dreams.

Obviously, he can’t do this alone says he recruits some of his co-workers, friends and a waitress from the local diner to join his scheme. Together, they call themselves ‘The Knights of Prosperity’. The trouble is, they really aren’t the best criminals in the world, and robbing Mick Jagger is going to be far harder than simply getting a copy of his door key…

My problems (and I have many)

First up – and maybe I’m being overly sensitive here – but are we ever going to have a mainstream US comedy show featuring blue collar workers that doesn’t portray them all as two sandwiches short of a picnic?

Eugene is thick, but in a really forced way. Do you think there’s a working class guy in the world who thinks he can run a bar that will only sell warm gin, cider, beer and a couple of bottles of wine (one red, one white)? No, of course there isn’t. But we’re in mainstream comedy land.

Similarly, are all working class guys racist? Why does his pal spend the entire episode throwing various racial epithets involving turbans, etc, at their taxi-driving friend of unknown ethnic origin? Are all Latinas from Colombia in some way mixed up with the drug trade? Apparently so. All black guys? Big and fat. Upper middle class guys? Naive and lacking the street smarts of working class people.

It’s just the biggest mish mash of slightly offensive comedy stereotypes you can imagine.

The show does have its virtues. It’s filmed on location in New York. There’s no studio audience to mank things up. There are funny moments.

Then there’s Mick Jagger. The words acting, Mick and Jagger should never be used in the same sentence. But here he is (yes, the great man does actually show up for a sizeable portion of the programme), hamming his way along, sending himself up nicely and generally being amusing. He’s clearly the funniest thing about the show.

But despite these few virtues, for a show that’s a My Name is Earl cash-in, they haven’t really spotted the secrets of that show’s success. There’s none of the joyfulness or good nature. We’re talking about a bunch of people trying to rob someone. There’s none of the friendship between the Knights that there is between Earl, his brother and Catalina.

While My Name is Earl also features a bunch of people who aren’t really the brightest, we’re never really laughing at them because they’re trying to do good. Here, we’re supposed to be laughing at everyone’s stupidity because we’re so much smarter.

The series blurb says “Working together, this band of adorable, new-age Robin Hoods, who have never even shoplifted a candy bar, are soon casing the joint and prepping for their crime. What they don’t know is that there’s a much richer target for them… the chance to find hope, self-esteem and confidence within themselves.”

I suspect if the show continues, the Knights are gradually going to learn that robbing people is bad, they should be helping one another, etc. But we already know that. It’s like waiting for the slower members of the class to catch up.

I’ll probably watch a few episodes of this when it airs, simply because of Mick Jagger. If some surprises emerge from the the Knights’ hat, it could be worth staying tuned to. But I’m not predicting great things for this unless they can find their way really quickly.

Cast

Lenny Venito (Squatch)

Josh Grisetti (Louis)

Mick Jagger (Himself)

Maz Jobrani (Gary)

Sofia Vergara (Esperanza)

Donal Logue (Eugene)

Kevin Michael Richardson (Rockefeller)

Writers

Jon Beckerman

Rob Burnett

Produced by

Jon Beckerman …. executive producer

Rob Burnett …. executive producer

Merrill H. Karpf …. co-executive producer

David Letterman …. executive producer

Donal Logue …. producer

Dara Schnapper …. associate producer