ABC’s freshman sitcom success Modern Family has done a wonderful job blending the old (family sitcom fraught with slapstick and one-liners) with the new (a single camera setup sans laugh track) to produce a fresh take on a classic format. Although the great cast and sharp writing deserve infinite praise, credit is also due to director Jason Winer. He has helmed 10 of the 15 episodes that have aired so far, and earned the Directors Guild Award for TV comedy series for his work on the pilot.
The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Winer is now set to direct Arthur, the remake of the 1981 comedy which starred Dudley Moore in the Oscar-nominated titular role as a drunken playboy who must decide between love and riches. Comedian Russell Brand, Forgetting Sarah Marshall co-star and upcoming headliner of spinoff Get Him to the Greek, has previously been cast as the new Arthur. More after the break.
I feel like I’m slightly less charmed by Brand’s antics than the rest of the blogosphere, but I’m still mostly positive on the wackily coiffed hellraiser. Whether a booze-filled role is the perfect avenue for his talents . . . well, I’ll remain skeptical until I see it. I think I might prefer him to have a leash of sorts to ensure that flamboyance and randomness are never substitutes for comedy. I fear that alcohol may be the opposite of such a leash in terms of character work.
However, Winer’s involvement is very encouraging. I adore Modern Family, and didn’t realize he had directed nearly all of the episodes, including my favorites “The Bicycle Thief” and “Fizbo”. There are hints of irreverence throughout Family to suit Brand’s voice, but ultimately the show is just trying to find a place for the family sitcom in a post Office/30 Rock world, which it absolutely has. I think that if an Arthur remake is going to succeed, it’s going to do so by finding the appropriate blend between the amiable qualities of the original and Brand’s iconoclastic nature. Winer seems like a great candidate for the job.