Writer Face-Off: Viva Laughlin
Writer Face-Off: Viva Laughlin
In BuddyTV's 2007 Fall TV Guide, our team disagreed vehemently on the prospects of several new shows. Please read as they cheer, bash and degrade each other and the shows. Then you can decide what you think about Gossip Girl, Samantha Who?, Viva Laughlin, and Aliens in America.

BuddyTV writers Oscar Dahl and John Kubicek couldn't have more differing opinions of the new CBS musical-drama hybrid Viva Laughlin.  John ranked it a lofty third on his list of new fall shows, while Oscar ranked it 478th out of 26.  John enjoyed the original BBC series, but Oscar had never seen it before.  Oscar and John met up on instant messenger to discuss the show.  Read on to see how their conversation went.

When you tune in on Sunday nights, will you be as impressed with Viva Laughlin's genre-bending execution as John is?  Or will you agree with Oscar, and consider it an embarrassment to all of television?

Oscar Dahl Oscar Dahl: John, I am excited to see how you defend Viva Laughlin. The show, quite simply, sucks.

John Kubicek: Not at all. It's funny, tongue-in-cheek yet serious. I think you simply don't understand how a show can combine so many different genres at once.

Oscar: You're right, my brain is unable to comprehend the greatness of Hugh Jackman singing out-of-tune to a classic Rolling Stones song. It's clearly beyond my grasp.

John KubicekJohn: It's not supposed to be exactly like a Broadway musical. It's supposed to be dreamlike, yet naturalistic...like when you sing a long to a song while driving in your car...you cut in and out, are off tune, but having a great time.

Oscar: That's fine, but if it sounds like crap, it sounds like crap. Regardless of its intentions, it still hurts my ears and ruins truly great songs. Take Melanie Griffith singing along to Blondie while trying to be sexy. The audience will not be having a "great time."

John: If you just want the songs, go put on a record. This is about the emotion, the feelings, and the joy of life as expressed through song.

Oscar: This is all I'll say about the music. During the songs, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed for the actors, embarrassed for CBS, embarrassed for the TV audience who will eventually watch it. It's like the last five minutes of a Full House episode where Danny Tanner explains life lessons to one of his daughters. The corniness is so heavy that you want to turn away from the screen in embarrassment.

John: I guess it depends on if you love out-there, experimental stuff.

Oscar: Let's talk about the mixing of genres. I'm all for it, but don't they have to succeed in those genres? The fact that they mixed them just isn't enough. It has to be good.

John: Yes, but the problem is you have absolutely nothing to compare this to. Have you ever seen anything like this? No, it's completely new to American audiences, and I think it's the kind of thing you either "get" or you don't, like the ending to the film Magnolia.

Oscar: OK, let's take Magnolia. I loved Magnolia, because the drama was intense. PTA writes funny scripts. And the sing-a-long was out there, original and apt. On Viva Laughlin, we're combining drama, comedy and musical. I didn't laugh once, the music made me cringe, and the drama was boring. You can't tell me that the the murder sub-plot was engrossing.

John: See, I may be blinded because, having seen the original British series this was based on, I probably read a lot more into the pilot than the average viewer (i.e. the daughter's professor boyfriend, he's far more involved).

Oscar: Okay, I didn't get that. Maybe I'm dense, but maybe the writers did a poor job. The mystery isn't all that mysterious, and I do not care about the dead guy, or Bunny (Melanie Griffith) in the least. And, how can you not hate the professor?

John: Well, the actor playing him was in Veronica Mars, so he gets instant respect in my book

Oscar: Well-defended, John.

John: Well, how about this point: the first six-episode season of the American version of The Office was terrible.

Oscar: I disagree. I loved those first six episodes, though not at first. Anyway, I don't see what that has to do with Viva Laughlin. I'm not even sure if my issue is completely with the execution of the first episode. I don't think the concept is a good one.

John: OK, well, you're in the minority...it was trying to be too similar to the original, and not until season 2 when it became its own show and stopped relying on the Gervais version did it succeed. Perhaps, if given time, Viva Laughlin will find it's own rhythm and not rely so heavily on imitating another show.

Oscar: Maybe, and if it improves and people agree that it has, maybe I'll give it another shot. But, at this point, you're going to have to pay me to watch another episode. And, there's no way you're pulling me away from Sunday Night Football and The Simpsons.

John: Fine, I think we can agree that nothing I can say will make you like this show, and nothing you can say will make me not...so let's try to find one point to agree on: if the show is successful, DB Woodside will be busy and that means there's no chance of Wayne Palmer returning to 24. Isn't that worth letting this show stay on the air?

Oscar: Okay, I can get on board with that sentiment. Also, one note worth mentioning. The end of the pilot, where the main character puts $250,000 on red in roulette is going to piss off all Wesley Snipes fans. "Always bet on black." Everyone knows that.

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Read the other hilarious Writer Face-Offs: Gossip Girl, Samantha Who? and Aliens in America.

(Image Courtesy of CBS)