Difficult as this might be to believe, there are actually people out there who are questioning why on earth CBS has given Rob Schneider his own sitcom.
Yes, I know — crazy, right? First, the good news for you Schneider aficionados (and bad news, I guess, for those who are not long-time passengers on the Rob Schneider funwagon): Rob’s new sitcom — titled “Rob,” in which he plays the title role, a guy named Rob — premieres tonight (Thursday, Jan. 12) at 8:30/7:30c on CBS. (Ironically, it replaces, for now, another CBS sitcom with a “Saturday Night Live” alumnus from the Schneider era, “Rules of Engagement” starring David Spade).
In the show, which we watched the other day on a preview DVD thanks to CBS, the show has Rob, an ordinary English-speaking guy living in Los Angeles who works as a landscape architect, eloping with a much-taller Mexican-American beauty (Claudia Bassols). And so, in the premiere episode, Rob and wife Maggie face the challenge of revealing their marital status to her huge Mexican-American family, headed by Cheech Marin as her pop.
Among other things, Rob’s profession as a landscaper allows Maggie’s mom (Diana Maria Riva) to make a joke or two deriding Rob for being a gardener. Get it? She’s Mexican-American and she doesn’t respect gardeners. Yes, folks, the jokes aren’t exactly the freshest you’ve ever heard, but we’re not here to come out for or against this sitcom. That’s up to you, if you choose to sample it tonight.
What we’re really here for is to extol the virtues of Schneider, whose comedy pedigree — if not second to none — at least ranks somewhere above, say, Tom Arnold, and a wee bit (or more) below, say, Adam Sandler (who happens to be a friend of Rob’s). Or, to put it another way, Rob’s two “Deuce Bigalow” movies probably don’t add up to half a Sandler hit (“Happy Gilmore,” “The Wedding Singer,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” — take your pick).
We happen to love Deuce Bigalow (well, at least a little), but for us, the roots of Rob Schneider love go back to the late ’80s and into the ’90s when we first got to know Rob on “SNL.”
For example, who can forget when Rob played the great office worker Richard Laymer, whose desk near the photocopier allowed him to kibitz with his fellow workers and label them with silly nicknames as they attempted to run a few Xeroxes.
Then there was the time on “SNL” that Rob mounted his vigorous defense of cartoons as educational tools. It happened during a memorable “Weekend Update,” anchored by Kevin Nealon.
And, as if his defense of animation’s role in the education of youth was not enough, Rob showed his sensitive side (and his backside, almost) when he played the recurring character known as “The Sensitive Naked Man.”
To sum up: Based on the evidence, we see nothing wrong with CBS giving Rob Schneider his own sitcom. To us, it seems like a logical career move for the man who played “Richard Laymer,” “Sensitive Naked Man” and “Deuce Bigalow” (also the improbably tough convict in the title for “Big Stan,” which we watched recently on HBO).