May 2, 2009 in Features

Much wackiness in JONAS premiere

J. Freedom Du Lac Washington Post
 

On the air

“JONAS” premieres tonight at 8 on the Disney Channel (cable channel 41 in Spokane, 32 in Coeur d’Alene).

So, three Jonas Brothers walk into a prep school.

Only they’re not the Jonas Brothers – they’re the Lucas Brothers! Who perform in the brother band JONAS! And the brothers crack corny jokes and break into song right there on campus! Hilarity ensues!

That’s more or less the premise of “JONAS,” a scripted Disney Channel series in which teen idols Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas play teen idols Nick, Joe and Kevin Lucas, who inexplicably call their band JONAS.

But at the school, they just want to blend in – and, OK, also go to Kevin’s locker, where (what wackiness!) he’s stashed a blender that makes delicious fruit smoothies.

In tonight’s premiere episode, Nick, the sensitive, serious and talented one, becomes smitten with Penny, a classmate who happens to be an aspiring singer. Much to the chagrin of his meddling brothers, Nick writes a plaintive puppy-love song for her.

Stuff happens, including a series of sight gags during the centerpiece performance of the strummy song “Give Love a Try.” There’s also a “joke” about an otter that plays the trumpet.

If this sounds like your idea of must-see TV, then congratulations and happy belated 11th birthday, young lady.

If this sounds like a half-baked teeny-bopper take on “Flight of the Conchords” – if not 22-or-so minutes of televised torture – you won’t find much disagreement here.

Originally, “JONAS” was supposed to have been called “J.O.N.A.S.,” an acronym for “Junior Operatives Networking As Spies.” The brothers were going to be engaged in espionage, living double lives.

But somebody, somewhere along the way decided otherwise. And so now, we have a show that opens with the Jonas Brothers as the Lucas Brothers as JONAS performing one of those catchy and completely inoffensive Jonas Brothers songs, with plenty of additional Jonas Brothers references sprinkled throughout.

Fame is especially fleeting in the fickle world of kiddie pop. And the wheels already seem to be wobbling on the Jonas Brothers bandwagon, as “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience” was something of a flop, grossing less than $20 million at the box office.

Could be, then, that “JONAS” is just art imitating the half-life of fame?


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