Poor Whoopi Goldberg, she tries so hard. When “Sister Act”
failed to legitimize her acting career, she strived to showcase her
comedic talent with blockbuster flicks like “Rat Race” and
“Monkeybone.” Although these did not bring her the credit she
deserved, she sought to win our hearts with her special brand of
witticisms on everyone’s favorite game show, “Hollywood
Squares.”

Alas, even that did not bring her adequate recognition. Now,
Whoopi has her chance to shine and, unfortunately, plummet further
to her comic death in NBC’s latest attempt for a hit sitcom,
“Whoopi.”

In her new conquest, Whoopi plays a former Grammy-winning hotel
owner, Mavis Rae, in post-September 11 New York. This concept is
very important considering the majority of the jokes revolve around
America’s supposed tension with Arabic people and the resulting
national security measures. For example, this week’s episode
focuses on the Persian handyman’s (Omid Djalili) obsession with the
color-coded terror alert system and the imminent threat of
SARS.

But, let’s not neglect the other facets of the show. Mavis’
stuffy brother, Courtney (Wren T. Brown), is forced to live in the
hotel after losing his prestigious job with Enron. He then
introduces his girlfriend, Rita (Elizabeth Regen), a white woman
who is, as NBC puts it, “culturally confused.” The contrast of the
two characters and their personalities irks Mavis to no end and, of
course, hilarity should ensue.

“Whoopi” brings more shame to NBC’s favorite slogan, “Ripped
from the headlines.” However, its jokes come a day late and a
dollar short. “Whoopi” works so relentlessly to add as many
political slams as possible into its plot that it neglects to
include any humor in the so-called comedy.

More often than not, the dialogue sounds random and forced as if
the actors know how incredibly annoying their clich�d
characters are. The litany of racially-charged gags is usually
tiresome and tasteless. In fact, the show’s rare funny moments
occur when its focus on the Iran/Iraq, black/white controversy
subsides.

While these sort of jokes may fly for a thirty second comedy
routine, they don’t quite provide an engaging basis for a thirty
minute show. Sorry Whoopi. Better luck next time.

Rating: 1 1/2 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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