God, The Devil And Bob

This ill-starred animated series got yanked after three episodes, and anyone who sees it will instantly know why. The plots revolve around a bet between God (voice of James Garner) and the Devil (Alan Cumming) that Detroit autoworker Bob Allman (French Stewart) can't justify the existence of humanity; as Bob is a second-string Homer Simpson, this gets pretty dicey, and so God and the Devil frequently intervene in order to tip the scales in their favour. It's a fine enough springboard for a comedy, and had it been rendered with either the sharp wit of The Simpsons or the freewheeling blasphemy of South Park's better moments this could have really been something. Unfortunately it puts sitcom convention before satirical invention, meaning that dumb-married-guy-in-the-doghouse jokes and boring life lessons abound. Despite making much ado of Bob's alleged immorality, he's pretty tame by even TV's standards, and he is of course flanked by homebody stand-bys of the sensible-henpeck wife (Laurie Metcalf), a difficult teenage daughter and his apple-of-his-eye son. Some meagre laughs are wrung out of the Devil's fruitless efforts to sabotage the work of the Lord, but the show is too wholesome to make him convincing, with everything so lovey-dovey in the end that you start to root for the Prince of Darkness. Extras begin with a clip-heavy "making of" featurette where creator Matthew Carlson and executive producer Harvey Myman extol the show's "core American values" while inflating the show's theological importance; commentaries for six episodes follow, with Carlson, Myman and a raft of lesser producers explaining the origins on the debut episode and very little else. The coup-de-grace, however, comes with phoney "interviews" of the three principals, which are even less funny than the show. The theme of the production seems to be "thou shalt not laugh." (Fox)