"Neighbors from Hell" – Episode 4 “Screw the EPA” Television Review

7/06/2010 Posted by Admin

"Neighbors from Hell" – Episode 4 “Screw the EPA”

Television Review

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

"Neighbors from Hell" is a painfully unfunny show. Between the meandering plots, paper-thin characters and empty and confusing jokes, finding one point where the show fails most is nearly impossible. Everything awkwardly hangs disconnected from the piece before it unable to support the weight of weaker aspects. The show feels rushed as if it was canceled before the first episode aired, and this fourth installment is a prime example.

Episode four, entitled “Screw the EPA,” rehashes the plots from the preceding three episodes with Balthazor slavishly attempting to please his boss and family. This week, he must take his wife out for their anniversary, while using an EPA agent’s attraction to him to pass a deal for environmentally destroyed land, which will hopefully promote him to the drill department. Another week focusing heavily on the drill routine without giving any sense to whom these characters are or why they live this way.

The show makes too many leaps of faith with these demons and their ethical code. Aside from the ludicrousness of a demon having moral standards, they consistently break their own rules as if they never existed. For example, despite her declarations of love or condemnation of other seedier characters, Tina is OK with Balthozar’s affair and wants to go to an execution as an anniversary present--thus, contradicting herself. The writers clearly cannot maintain both this lengthy arc and establish these personalities, so it would be best to just focus on one.

This loyalty to the terrible justification for the Hellmans' presence on Earth ruins the show. Constantly having to revert back to the same story week after week without giving any room for growth gives the show a flat and lazy feel that crosses over into the jokes. This premise is everything to the plot, but has no bearing on anything the characters say. Instead, characters make confusing and unnecessary puns to unrelated or forgotten cultural trends, spouting things like “Va-J.J. Abrams” or referencing the George Foreman Grill, but because they have nothing to do with the episode there is almost no reason to laugh.

Overall, the show feels rushed, and given that the show’s creator, Pam Brady, worked on the made-in-a-week show "South Park," this is probably all she knows. Sadly, as "South Park" uses its quick turn around to stay with the times, "Neighbors" simply feels dated and superficial; the plots are too thin to support the jokes, the jokes are too weak to support the plot. Everything needs a total overhaul to figure out what it’s satirizing and why, because if the writers can’t think of a reason to write the show, the watchers have no reason to watch.

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