Scaring the Cavemen: Fun and Games in the Dog Days of Press Tour
It's a given that critics get a little giddy toward the end of the TCA tour. Two weeks living out of a suitcase -- even one parked in one of the ritziest hotels in Beverly Hills -- will do that to you.
So when I and a group of mostly black TV critics saw the actors from ABC's Cavemen series sitting on a patio at the Beverly Hilton, decked out in full regalia, having a smoke between filming promotional shots for the network, we couldn't resist. We had to go over and talk to them.
We didn't really say anything mean or aggressive; we mostly made small talk about where we were from and how the tour was going. But you could see in the eyes of the actors, who were fully made up in the fake hair, plastic noses and arm/hand hair, that they were wondering if we would hassle them about the show.
"Some people are pissed that we're even making the show," said actor Bill English, sweeping a lock of fake hair out of his face to exhale a plume of cigarette smoke. "We're only in it for the money," joked the guy who plays the funny ascerbic cavedude, Nick Kroll.
In a few minutes, a beefy-looking security guy came to the table and said the guys had to shoot some more promotional spots. But as we left, one of my friends saw the guard pushing the guys into a meeting room, saying "Don't leave here."
Did we intimidate the guys just because they know some critics, particularly critics of color, don't find Cavemen's allegory to black people all that amusing? I'm not sure. But I think it may have helped them a bit to know that there are real people on the other end of their portrayals -- people who have to live with the consequences of their creative choices every day.
NOTE: Don't assume the TV show, as depicted in the pilot circulated to critics, is like the GEICO ads. It is not. While the cavemen in the GEICO ads look more like repressed metrosexuals, the allegories to race are much more obvious and heavy-handed in the initial pilot. See a scene from the pilot here.