So Random!





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

The show must go on.

It’s one of entertainment’s biggest clichés. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether your guitarist broke his hand or your director can’t be found or your star starts ranting about his “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA.” You’ve got bills to pay, fans to satisfy and the curtain’s going up.

That why, when Disney’s ultra-likable, über-talented star Demi Lovato left her hit show  Sonny With a Chance to work out some well-publicized personal issues, Disney didn’t drop the comedy series—even though it was tailor-made for Lovato’s talents. They instead retooled it.

Sonny With a Chance carried a show-within-a-show conceit: Sonny, Lovato’s character, was a cast member in the tween-centric sketch comedy program So Random! With Lovato gone, Disney stripped away the within-a-show trope, tore off the old title and turned the whole thing into an actual sketch comedy, complete with talented players and musical guests—a Saturday Night Live for folks with regular bedtimes.

But considering the state of SNL these days, So Random! might actually be funnier. Disney’s sitcom humor has often been outlandishly juvenile (albeit innocently so), and So Random! follows suit. But that feels more in step with this format than it ever does in the channel’s standard sitcoms. It’s also no longer hitched to a single star, meaning a cadre of former backup players (along with a few newcomers) are allowed to mix-and-match at will within the skits. There’s no real focal point, but a sketch comedy show doesn’t need one. All you need are likeable, talented actors and some reasonably good writing.

Of course, former Sonny stars must sidestep a strange incongruity. Is it Sterling Knight or his Sonny character Chad Dylan Cooper who we’re watching onstage? Is it Tawni Hart or Tiffany Thornton?

Never mind that, though. Your 11-year-old certainly won’t. And that’s why this next bit is important: So Random! still feels quite Disney. It’s a reasonably polished piece of work that works hard to earn its G-rating. Language rarely gets worse than “heck” or “gosh,” and all violent confrontations are ludicrously slapstick. While the show does feature an unfortunate bit of (mild) gross-out humor, it studiously avoids the truly icky content you’ll likely encounter anywhere else on the television dial.

Episode Reviews

SoRandom: 8282011

“Kicking Daisies” In the skit “Project Airport Runway,” female models try to land a passenger plane. “A model can’t land this plane!” a pilot hollers. “Not in those heels,” the co-pilot says. Another skit—a commercial for a store called Your Daughter’s Closet—pokes gentle fun at mothers who raid their children’s wardrobes to look cool. It also references women trying to stuff their “mom parts” into too-tight jeans. “Crazy Larry’s Lost and Found” features some gross-centric humor: Crazy Larry tries to sell shirts with mysterious stains on them and visibly wrings sweat out of a pair of used sweat socks. He whacks a passerby with several “contaminated” items. Someone mentions a “hot mess.” A skit in which two officers diffuse a bomb features a reference to the R-rated Lethal Weapon movie and a sly homosexual aside (“Looks like we’ll never be able to open up that bed and breakfast”). Skirts are a little short, and evening wear bares a shoulder. Musical guest Kicking Daisies sings a song that seems to detail a dysfunctional breakup (“You’ll lie to me, I’ll lie to you”). “Heck” and “gosh” are interjected.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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