'Bad Teacher,' the TV Version, Takes Over the Class on CBS
The long-awaited "Bad Teacher" premieres Thursday night on CBS. I'm not sure whether anyone has really been awaiting this adaptation of the raunchy 2011 movie of the same name (which starred Cameron Diaz).
But the show was announced last summer as a midseason replacement, and it is finally cracking the CBS lineup. Ari Graynor is in the title role as Meredith Davis, "an always inappropriate, fearless, and unapologetic former trophy wife who masquerades as a teacher in order to find a new man after her wealthy husband leaves her penniless," as the network put it in press materials.
Davis schemes to get a job teaching at Richard M. Nixon Middle School, where her goal is to get a new rich husband. Not from among the teaching staff, but from the numerous divorced dads who pull up to the school in nice cars to pick up their children.
But the raunch factor is said to be dialed down several notches from the movie, and Davis is meant to have a likable side, imparting life lessons to her friend's stepdaughter, who attends the school. Kristin Davis ("Sex and the City") and David Alan Grier ("In Living Color") are in the cast.
I wrote about "Bad Teacher" in January, when it was still in development (and already being feared in some quarters for what it would do to education). I wanted to offer an advance review this week, but the CBS publicity shop seemed less than enthusiastic about providing any episodes. The show was available, though, to daily newspapers and other long-standing reviewers with accounts on the network's password-protected preview channel.
Variety's Brian Lowry said that Graynor delivers a "head-turning performance" and that, "taken on its own terms, the series is pretty amusing."
In the San Francisco Chronicle, David Wiegand said the show "is at its best when teacher really is 'bad.' At those moments, it approaches a wicked, and wickedly funny, level of satire. As you might expect, though, every episode ends with a warm and fuzzy moment—well, as warm and fuzzy as the 'Bad Teacher' can be."
But Newsday's Verne Gay said "the transition from big screen to small doesn't exactly work."
"What this 'Bad Teacher' really needed to do was outsmart the source material—this version more clever, or sharper, or funnier, or (above all) make it for adults," he added. "After all, no teens will ever fall for this flavorless, sanitized, and timid retread."
We'll have to see whether "Bad Teacher" gets tenure in TV Land or ends up as a short-term substitute.