Now that "The Black Donnellys" is officially canned, we'll get two hours of "Thank God You're Here," NBC's new improv show in which celebrities walk into a set-up scene and have to ad-lib their way through. The show debuts this coming Monday, April 9, but you don't have to wait to see it — the premiere episode is available online now.
My snap judgment: TV isn't the best showcase for improv, but this show isn't as bad as I'd feared. When I first heard NBC was doing an comedy show with celebrities, I thought they'd be shoving, say, Patrick Dempsey or Evangeline Lilly into a scene, so I'm glad to see that the "celebrities" are actual comedians like Wayne Knight ("Seinfeld"'s Newman) and Joel McHale (E!'s "The Soup"). The supporting cast is also strong: They're good at setting up lines for the featured celebs, but they're funny in their own right too.
At the same time, the constant cutaways to the live studio audience seemed to scream "laugh now!" rather than letting us find the good bits on our own, and the idea of having a judge give a trophy to one of the performers felt like pandering, even if the judge is Dave Foley. My favorite parts of the show were actually the pre-taped (but still improvised) bits, which felt less forced and genuinely funny. Check out the episode and let me know what you think. Or, if you just want a taste, you can watch a clip from the premiere if you