Good Actor, Poor Show: Jerry O'Connell in 'Carpoolers'
Good Actor, Poor Show:  Jerry O'Connell in 'Carpoolers'
In BuddyTV's 2007 Fall TV Guide, we analyzed which great stars are working on shows that aren't worthy of their skill levels. The three to earn that distinction in 2007 are Fred Willard in Back to You, Jerry O'Connell in Carpoolers, and Joshua Malina in Big Shots.

Jerry O'Connell is one of those actors who is just constantly on the verge of busting through the dorky-guy stereotype into serious stardom land.  Not that O'Connell isn't well known, but with his range, physique, and recognition he seems capable of making a Brendan Fraser/Will Smith transition into big time movie star material. The problem is that between Stand By Me, Jerry Maguire, Sliders, and Crossing Jordan, you have such career deflating gems as Joe's Apartment, Tom Cats, Kangaroo Jack, and now Carpoolers.

O'Connell plays Laird in Carpoolers, a guy who is unrealistically disenchanted with the opposite sex and just generally socially aloof.  In a nutshell, he doesn't seem to like, or want to come to like, anyone.  Perhaps his most telling character trait so far is something that goes like “If you want to get to know me, come watch me get a lap dance.”

Perhaps in a situation like this, O'Connell's acting chops would serve him better if they were a little less effective because so far, Laird comes off as completely unlikable.  As in, there is no charisma in this show, I think I will change the channel.

The show itself is the epitome of a hook with no stamina.   Focusing on the antics of a carpool is the most constrained concept anybody could think of for a sitcom.  How long can the setting possibly hope to serve as a backdrop for interpersonal humor?  The concept reeks of something that was developed out of pocket by some cubicle monkey.  However, surprisingly, that is not the case.

In fact, Carpoolers is the product of Kids in the Hall vet Bruce McCulloch.  The problem may be that he is present mostly in a name only capacity.  Supporting him is a stable of eight writers with a shallow track record filled with single shot executive VP spots.  McCulloch is the legitimizing factor, but O'Connell may have well put his career in the hands of the aforementioned cubicle monkeys.

If O'Connell is hoping for another Sliders or Crossing Jordan to cement his place in the sunshine, he may well be in for a rude awakening.  All indications are, Carpoolers will be yet another dark spot on an otherwise distinguished career.

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Comment if you agree or disagree. Also check out these other actors who cannot save their shows: Fred Willard in Back to You and Joshua Malina in Big Shots.

- Jon Lachonis, BuddyTV
(Image courtesy of ABC)