In Hulu’s new original series, “Quick Draw,” Nancy Hower and John Lehr deploy the tried-and-true Frankenstein school of television creation. In such a style, one pieces together mismatched pieces of previous works (some of art, some not so artful) to create a new, living, breathing entity and roll it out to the screen. Sometimes the result is monstrous; occasionally, it’s an upgraded iteration of the original goods. In the case of Hulu’s current effort to evolve into a real web TV network, the result is, as my daughter would say, meh.
Here’s the formula: take one tiny part of the brilliant “Blazing Saddles,” two parts of that vintage goofy western, “F Troop,” and add a dash of the cult film, “Support Your Local Sheriff.” Blend them together and you approximate the plot of “Quick Draw.” The premise finds comedian John Lehr (a dead ringer for the late Joe Isuzu) as Jon Henry Hoyle, a Harvard-trained, fish-out-of-water lawman in a wild west Kansas town. Back in them ol’ days, Kansas was the west. Anyway, Hoyle teams up with goofy deputy Nick Brown (Eli) to ward off/fight groups of real-life outlaws (The Youngers, James Brothers) with a torrent of offbeat, anachronistic satire being the weapon of choice. “Quick Draw” subscribes to the theory that, if you throw enough bad jokes against the wall, a few may stick. Nice try.
Allison Dunbar rounds out the cast as Honey, the local saloon keeper/happy hooker and she seems none too pleased to be tossed into this erratic mess of a faux, comedic western. Most of the tongue-in-cheek westerns that precede this lame effort build their story around something or someone special. In the case of immortal “Blazing Saddles,” the brilliance of Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder became the comedy fuel that drives the engine; in “Support Your Local Sherriff,” a wry James Garner set the standard for the classic laid-back lawman. Lehr, as the lead in “Quick Draw” is silly for the sake of it and if he tells one more person he’s a Harvard grad, I am likely to enter into a duel with my flatscreen.
After trashing “Awesomes” and now “Quick Draw,” I still hold out hope for Hulu’s success in becoming a breeding ground for new, creative online programming. As any network that has grown into a ratings-and-revenue powerhouse has learned, you have to launch a plague of frogs before you get to kiss that elusive multi-screen winner.