TV Review: 'Chocolate News' wrapped in stale package


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Pity the faux news show that attempts to stake its claim on Comedy Central, home turf of the unparalleled faux news shows "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." Perhaps David Alan Grier, star of the new "Chocolate News" (10:30 tonight, Comedy Central) gets points for moxie, but the series fails on too many other counts.

It's structured like a new magazine, with Grier serving as the host who promises, "If it's chocolate, we're gonna bring it to you!"

The reports are sketches, some starring Grier as other characters, including poet Maya Angelou, who composes poems for the potential presidential inaugurations of Barack Obama and John McCain. ("John McCain, ain't that a [expletive].")

Grier -- who first rose to fame on the funnier, more zeitgeisty "In Living Color" -- mourns the loss of hip-hop as a social force ("When did 'fight the power' become 'Wait 'til you see my [expletive bleeped]' ") and portrays a rapper who takes his profanity-laced performance of a "No Child Left Behind" rap to elementary schools. There are moments of humor among these raucous sketches but much of it is predictable (you know the "n-word peace accords" won't end well). It's certainly not the second coming of the more insightful "Chapelle's Show."


'Chocolate News'
  • When: 10:30 tonight, Comedy Central.
  • Starring: David Alan Grier.

A sketch in the second episode on the impact the rising cost of gas has on gangs in Detroit seems moldy in light of recent decreases in gas prices. This is a pitfall of trying to be topical on a show that tapes weeks in advance. Can we expect a sketch on the Wall Street meltdown next month?

The timing of "Chocolate News" seems especially odd given the possibility of an Obama presidency. The show does address the campaign in next week's episode, reminding racist voters that Obama is half white and to "vote for the white half." Grier, whom correspondents refer to as "DAG," also plays with stereotypes, noting that Obama's competition is a former prisoner of war and "a heat-packing mama of five with a knocked-up, teenaged baby mama. And that's the white option? Oh, hell no. White folks, have you lost your damn mind?"

Perhaps with more timely and pointed commentary such as this, "Chocolate News" could succeed, but too many of the jokes are stale and tired.




Contact TV editor Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1112. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv .


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