If you’ve ever doubted Cameron Diaz’s talent, take a look at “Bad Teacher.” Not the film – she’s excellent in that – but the TV show.
In the half-hour version, Ari Graynor can’t hold a Prada bag to Diaz. She’s more “Real Housewife” than calculating teacher. Perhaps to give this concept legs, the producers decided to soften the rough edges. But that’s what made the film so fun to watch.
Diaz didn’t care what her students thought. She plowed through, searching for a man with a lot of money.
In the TV “Teacher,” Graynor has to make this journey last. She fits in a little too quickly and becomes the educational equivalent of ABC’s “Trophy Wife.”
The husband search? That’s on hold, largely because the gym teacher (Ryan Hansen) is perfect from the start.
So, she spends her time, schmoozing the principal (David Alan Grier, all bluster and nonsense), thwarting the faculty president (a pursed Kristin Davis) and bonding with the school’s wallflower (Sara Gilbert).
The series hints at some of the teacher’s more outrageous behavior. But this is more “Private Benjamin” than “Private Parts.”
Davis, Grier and Gilbert settle for stereotypes. Hansen shows the most promise.
He and Graynor could be a good tag team but it’s early in the game to start pairing up.
So, Graynor’s Meredith Davis makes like Sherman and marches her way through the school, causing trouble for the mean girls and finding a place for herself at the faculty table. She’s pleasant, not obnoxious. That’s what made “Bad Teacher” such a game changer for Diaz. She played a woman who turned on the charm only when she thought it might be advantageous. Here, Graynor tosses the smiles everywhere.
Lisa Ann Walter did the same shtick in the 1990s and the shows were canceled.
Likely, the same fate will await “Bad Teacher.”
If the show’s creators don’t take a risk (like their counterparts on “2 Broke Girls”), this won’t break through. It’s not about a “bad” teacher, just a slightly irreverent one.
“Bad Teacher” airs at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on CBS.