I had high hopes for Little Mosque on the Prairie, CBC's apparently highly contentional new sitcom about, well, a little mosque on the prairie. When I first saw a preview for it on Christmas Eve - with a group of Muslims feverishly playing a shot in curling I laughed really hard.
I thought: Oh, wow. Here is CBC really putting itself out. This could be a real new dawn for Canadian programming.
Well, so much for that.
The show has no edge. Most of the humour is based on weak word-play, and what else there is is built upon the hackneyed notion that Muslims are all seen as terrorists. While I expect that the current worldwide obsession with terrorism was inevitable, it was dealt with in the most unimaginative and, frankly, gut-less of ways. A Muslim talking on the phone in an airport, using the words 'suicide' and 'bomb' in the most innocent ways justifiable is immediately detained. Wahoo! Barrel of laughs. A gag weakened even further, when a Muslim contractor's slogan - "We'll blow the competition away" - is taken out of context in the same fashion. Yawners.
To be fair, I did laugh out loud twice. Though I have since forgotten the jokes - yes, the jokes that stand out in memory are the ones that did so by being bad.
And the acting was at best, un-even. Some of the cast take a naturalistic approach - which seems to behoove the material better than the broad strokes of the majority.
It seems to me that this is a sad opportunity lost.
Remember the first season of 'The Newsroom?' There was a show with bite. 'Little Mosque...' could have taken a page from that show and been a truly socially relevant show with a voice that spoke to issues that remain sharp to the moment, rather than softballing at the dull side of the blade (eww - bad mixed metaphor). That doesn't mean that begin goofy is out - heck, curling Muslims was what captured my attention in the first place. But that's just it! I've never even thought that Muslims in Saskatchewan would fall in line with the rest of the community and do the only thing available to while away the winter months, while the humour exhibited in the pilot episode was tepid at best.
Here is my hope. 'Little Mosque...' recieves plenty of criticism along the lines of what I've just outlined, but also reaches a regular and devoted audience of Muslims who are pleased as punch that they're being represented on TV as something other than bad-guys on '24.' (Irony for those who watch both shows and get the inerent in joke in that sentence.) And hopefully a good number of those same devoted Muslim viewers agree that 'Little Mosque...' could serve itself, the audience, CBC and (God/Allah forbid.) Canada better by having a more socially caustic voice.
I'll keep watching for now. Perhaps the pilot wasn't representative of where the show went in full production. I'll definitely last until I get to see the curling Muslims again. It's a short season, so I might even make it all the way just out of combined respect for a good idea and encouragement to take it to the next level.