Its difficult to write about "Minding the Store" and say something everyone else hasn't said or what someone that hasn't even seen the show probably thinks. The return to the spotlight of one Pauly Shore is exactly what you think it is. The first high-profile original series from TBS (a network that found its niche as the home of syndicated modern classics "Seinfeld", "Sex and the City", "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Family Guy"), "Store" is yet another hybrid reality/improve comedy series in the vein of "The Osbournes", "I'm With Busey" and "Fat Actress". Unfortunately, "Store" is more "Actress" than "Busey".
Like "Actress" it is the story of a washed-up celebrity, as themselves, trying to get back into the business as cameras follow the entire time. Though somebody who thinks that "Encino Man" and "In the Army Now" was being "on top of the world" (as Shore states in his usual nasally beach bum voice over the intro) may find breaking back in harder than expected. The added wrinkle is that Shore's parents apparently own The Comedy Store, a legendary stand-up comedy club that gave starts to the likes of Jim Carrey and Chris Rock. Now his parents (his father Sammy, his mother Mitzi who we only hear over the phone) have turned the store over the Shore to handle everything from publicity contests to fire code violations. The first episode is the best, in which a bet over whether beautiful women are funny finds Shore organizing a all-girl stand-up night (with many acts bombing).
The best of the hybrid reality/comedy shows have fun blurring the lines between reality and fiction and keep us guessing about which is which. Yes, "Busey" stepped over the line of absurdity time and again, but it did so with such a straight face that it worked. There is an obviousness to "Store" that makes it hard to shake the feeling that everything we are seeing is staged. Even during the more banal, everyday events (such as, Shore's conversations with his therapist, a trip to a Medieval Times restaurant and a blind date to an art museum where the girl walks out on his antics) Shore cannot resist the urge to ham it up and play to the cameras. It is an insufferable reminder that many people never change. Shore hasn't grown up a day since the 80s.
I can't blame Pauly Shore for this. The blame here goes to the audience who has made reality shows the fad, specifically "The Surreal Life" crowd that has put the spotlight back on washed-up celebrities. This has opened the door for Shore to get back onto TV and I can't blame the guy for walking through it. Pauly Shore was just the Adam Sandler or Rob Schneider of his day.
Ultimately, "Store" is just a sad reminder that when the public rejects somebody they don't go away, but live on and some, having tasted the sweet juice of success, spend the rest of their days trying to get it back.
But you know all this, and I've already given this show more thought then it deserves.
* / 4
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