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James Hibberd

In Defense of ‘Cavemen’

July 24, 2007 12:43 PM

Here’s an exercise: Close your eyes. Forget the Geico cavemen commercials have ever existed. We live in a world without Geico cavemen commercials. Good. Now, pretend the “Cavemen” concept was created by some geek in Austin who shot some funny low-budget videos featuring his friends in cavemen makeup and put them on his Web site. Now pretend that Comedy Central—not ABC—picked up this Internet phenomena and developed it into a sitcom, put it on at 11 p.m. Tuesdays with little fanfare.

Open your eyes. Do you still hate the show?

The point isn’t that ABC’s “Cavemen” is a funny pilot (oh, dear lord, it’s not). The point is that the critical and online mockery endured by “Cavemen” (whose TCA panel is tomorrow) has less to do with the idea than its backstory. It’s the icky feeling that “Cavemen” is a Madison Avenue product, a piece of corporate art designed to sell auto insurance that was co-opted by a big broadcast network desperately seeking a headline-grabbing sitcom, that makes it objectionable.

As a grungy homegrown effort on Comedy Central, “Cavemen” could have been a bizarre cult favorite—a programming move made by zeitgeist-Googling network executives and marketed to the same demographic of college hipsters who get stoned and watch MTV2’s ‘Wondershozen.”

On ABC, it’s an easy target.


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Comments (3)

Am I the only person that thought Cavemen sounded like a good idea from the get-go? At least it's something different...people like to blindly make a fuss over things like this...ads becoming shows... or remakes or sequels or whatever...without ever seeing the product. I can understand the concern that people might have that the product would be Geico Presents: Cavemen, but if it's funny, it's funny, ad-based or not.

Shame to hear the show isn't actually any good, though. I was still holding out hope.


This would be a piece of crap if it was on a network or on Public Access Television. This is probably the worst idea since "My Mother the Car" (1965).

This is a good point. I think the broadcast networks are trying too hard to be hip. Just because a commercial everybody's talking about doesn't necessarily mean it will translate into a good TV show (Look at "Linus the Lionhearted", a short-lived CBS cartoon from 1964, based on Post cereal ads.) Is a sitcom based on the Pillsbury Dough Boy in the cards soon?

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