Not giving this more than a 5 'cause I'm a snooty, snot-nosed elitist wannabe who expected a show like this to be more grounded, exacting, and informative. While being funny and warm and endearing, as one rightfully expects from Ferguson, Join or Die seems too mired in its limitations-on-behalf-of-format.
He has one actual expert and two funny people as guests. The premise identifies 6 exemplars of the theme (e.g., biggest political blunder), and has to winnow them down to one. The panel of experts gets it down to two and the audience executes the coup de grace.
Y'know, the composition of the panel doesn't bother me so much. The problem is that the token expert tends to get seriously short shrifted. Half the nuggets of insight into the rubric are already known to me; I'm appreciative of the other half; but I'm dismayed that some other serious considerations of the subject don't get raised, and niggle at the thought that they weren't raised because the time it would take to raise them "has to be" spent springing middle-brow quips.
For instance, it grated my sensibilities when Ferguson himself asked a question of the expert, only to derail an actual answer to the question asked in deference to an impulse to curry a bubbling, barely humorous inanity.
I was rather touched and dismayed in the first episode when the expert mischievously took a poke at the paper-thin political blunders theme by mentioning that "blunders" like the O'Donnell campaign diminish to nothingness next to real, monumental, and arguably made-to-order blunders like the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Craig immediately went into a sort of mini-damage-control mode, as he fully understands the parameters and range of his format and needed to nip this heresy-against-format in the bud, toot sweet.
Well, that about says it, right? If you find the format to be in your comfort zone, then you'll love Join or Die. I just sort of think it sad that Craig is accepting a status quo that obviates the addressing of very real issues--so real that they threatened to take down the very country to which he has sworn his fealty.
The rather stilted format decision to keep it a bit too light takes a bite out of Join or Die, in my book. Perhaps a good way to highlight this shortcoming in my mind is to size it up against very, very decent infotainment products, such as "Adam Ruins Everything" and "Drunk History". I understand that the difference is that these two shows are produced artifacts, and Craig's new addiction--the live show format--may well limit his ability to create a firehose-of-info effect.
But... There's got to be a way. I just feel that these first two installments of Join or Die are NOT THAT WAY.
I'll continue to watch, in hopes that he finds... that way. 'Til then, I can't give it very high marks.
10 out of 10 found this helpful