So, that’s over. The Wanda Sykes Show, Fox’s Saturday night answer to Saturday Night Live, or something, wrapped its first season last night. Wanda and producers still don’t know whether they’ll be invited back next season; there’s been no re-up order from Fox just yet, as they’re studying the ratings (dismal) and possible replacements. Does Wanda deserve to come back?
Wanda’s problem is that she’s an excellent, funny funny lady — on everything except her own show. On The New Adventures of Old Christine, at the GLAAD Awards, on Ellen, on Real Time, on The Tonight Show. But come Saturday night on Fox, everything just falls apart.
There’s the argument that Wanda needs some time to develop a following. That is true. But nobody wants to follow a show that isn’t funny. It isn’t enough to really love Wanda Sykes; adoration does not a show make. And while we appreciate Wanda’s willingness to experiment with different show segments, she has yet to find one, over the course of an entire season, that we know we just have to find on YouTube the following day.
Wanda’s show lacks the natural flow of Ellen. It lacks the saucy nature of Chelsea Lately. It lacks the name calling of Real Time. And it lacks the buzz — however undeserved — of The View.
If Wanda wants to keep her television show, she’d be wise to spend the summer delivering webisode bits that throw absolutely everything at the wall to see what sticks. These clips don’t even have to rack up a huge number of views — they just have to show core fans, and network execs, that there is something worth coming back for. Something more than a half-funny Erykah Badu parody.