A.P. BIO gets a failing grade
Midseason shows can be tricky. Some are left for midseason so that the networks can re-work the series before airing, others are held onto to replace failing fall releases, and the rest are simply held so as not to release a fall stinker. In the case of A.P. BIO, it falls into the latter category.
On paper, NBC’s A.P. BIO sounds like a winner. Written by former Saturday Night Live writer Michael O’Brien and executive produced by late night host and former SNLer Seth Meyers and SNL God Lorne Michaels, A.P. BIO follows a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar who becomes an A.P. Biology teacher in Toledo, Ohio following the death of his mother.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Glenn Howerton assumes the lead role as Jack Griffin, a man whose life is on the rails as a result of losing tenure and his career. Introduced to the audience (and his class) by crashing his car into the school sign, Griffin subsequently chases a person with a crow bar and then arrives to class with said crow bar. What is supposed to elicit laughs instead lands with a thud. Griffin goes on to explain that he doesn’t want to be there, that it isn’t going to one of those classes where they will learn anything nor will he learn anything from them, and that he is going to have sex with as many women as he can. Why Griffin chooses to become a teacher and why anyone would hire this nightmare-of-a-man is never explained. The U.S. school system is broken, but not this broken. Perhaps it’s because of Principal Durbin (Patton Oswald), the bumbling head of the school who values being liked more than doing right by his students.
A.P. BIO eventually introduces the supporting cast of teachers, three equally unamusing teachers, who inform Griffin that he can make the kids do whatever he wants. Out to destroy Miles Leonard, his arch nemesis who took his old job and is a best-selling author, Griffin assigns the class to catfish Leonard and break him.
The series ultimately fails on the awful scripts (NBC offered four episodes for preview with each equally unpleasant). Post-pilot episodes do manage to achieve a few chuckles, but O’Brien’s weak writing dooms the series by relying on silly sight gags like someone attempting to sit on a broken chair, in writing the students as stereotypical nerds (coke-bottle glasses and all for one student in particular), and in assuming how kids speak today. Case in point: the students view a video of Griffin fighting with another person at his tenure hearing and the video is titled “Old dude handles slightly less old dude”. Perhaps O’Brien should have spent time in a high school to better understand teenagers today.
Either NBC owed Lorne Michaels a favor for delivering high ratings or someone leading NBC’s comedies needs to go back to comedy school because this is one comedy that simply fails to make the grade. If you’re looking for a stronger workplace comedy, look no further than Fox’s LA to Vegas.