The new A&E show, “Strange Days”, has some familiar and not so familiar aspects. The familiar: Bob Saget. He’s no stranger to our television sets. From his memorable role on “Full House,” to “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, to being the voice on “How I met your Mother”, to countless other appearances… the man has been a staple on American television. It’s nothing new to see Bob Saget on television. The unfamiliar: the sub-cultures that Bob visit’s in each episode. On its premiere episodes Bob visit’s a motorcycle brotherhood known as the Iron Order and in its second episode Bob joins Bigfoot hunters known as the members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Association. Yeah, I would say this half is the unfamiliar.
Watching Bob Saget join a tough group of motorcyclist that party hard and wear mostly leather, should be, above everything, interesting. It starts out mildly amusing because Bob is relegated to ride sidecar instead of riding an actual motorcycle and is also subjected to getting the members coffee. If he wants to be initiated, he’s got to start on the bottom of the totem pole. After a series of voice overs and shots of women flashing their boobs, the boredom sets in. Not much is really happening, and we’re not really seeing the bonding that Bob is, or should be doing with this group of men. When Bob attends the wedding of one of the brothers, followed by the memorial and funeral of another, smiles and tears on the faces of all of the people indicate that a lot of emotions are being felt. Bob’s emotional too. By the look of things, we the viewers should be moved. But because little to no interviews are done with the members of the brother hood and not much is done to show why the gentleman who passed, Killer, was so celebrated. It’s admittedly sad to see Little Killer, Killer’s son, crying over the loss of his father, but because the moment is hidden behind yet another voice over, it’s again, just dull.
In the second episode, Bob visits Squatchers: Sasquatch watchers. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Association take Bob into the woods with them as they attempt to call and lure the illusive Bigfoot to where they are. Yet again, short and hardly inquisitive interviews keep us from ever really connecting with these people or understanding why they do what they do. Some things I would have loved to have known that were never touched upon: How is this organization funded? What do these people do for a living? What does their families think of what they do? Instead, the group is exploited by the show as nerdy and a bit looney. Another opportunity to get to know a normally unexposed subculture is lost.
“Strange Days” was filled with the potential to explore something not normally brought to our attention. A show like “Hoarders”, for example, does a great job at shining a light on a subject or a group of people who viewers know little about. Bob Saget’s show however, fails to really draw viewers to the characters that they are exploring.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that the show doesn’t really know whether it wants to take a comedic look at the groups or a serious look. Bob was looked silly riding in that tiny sidecar, but was beyond touched when he met Little Killer. He raised an eyebrow at the Twinkies that were purchased to lure the Bigfoot, but yet seemed moved and excited when he heard the Bigfoot call out to him. So which is it? Should we be fascinated and connect with these groups? Or should we point and laugh because we don’t understand them? I’m sure they were going for the first option, but unfortunately, touched upon the latter.
Perhaps the problem lies in the time constraints of the show. An hour episode with the same amount of voice overs, but more footage of the groups that Bob is exploring, would definitely help the audience feel more emotionally attached. Perhaps the real success of this show lies on the cutting room floor.
I’m not worried for Bob Saget. He has a habit of finding steady work (and if not, he’s probably the king of syndication checks.) “Strange Days” may not make the cut though. The unfamiliar territory isn’t really working.