Monday, 9 January 2017

Disney Channel Needs To Leave Best Friends Whenever In The Past

Best Friends Whenever is the newest, high-concept series airing on Disney Channel. The multi-camera sitcom was created by Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas, who also created the Disney XD animated series Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja and executive produced by the Jed Elinoff, Scott Thomas and Michael B. Kaplan (Dog With A Blog). Set in Portland, Oregon, two girls named Cyd (Landry Bender) and Shelby (Lauren Taylor) are best friends living together while Cyd's parents are on an archaeological dig in Peru. The series will contain 19 episodes in its first season, the same number as Austin & Ally's first season.

After an accident in their neighbour Barry's science lab, they are given the ability to travel in time, provided they are thinking of the time they want to go and are together hugging or high fiving. Of course when it comes to their trips to the future, they briefly find themselves strapped to tables in a futuristic lab, and now they must figure out what this means while having various misadventures along the way.

Interestingly, the series was originally developed and piloted as another multi-camera show titled Fairest of the Mall, which arguably had a better, and longer lasting concept and featured most of the current cast. Fairest of the Mall would have been somewhat of a tween Big Bang Theory, it centred on a teenage girl who lands her dream job at the plaza’s hottest clothing store — only to lose it once she’s set up by the resident queen bee. Now, the only job she could find is at the tech store filled with nerdy teenage boys.

The main problem with Best Friends Whenever is its concept, which falls through pretty early into the pilot episode. Cyd's parents are on an ecological dig in Peru and she obviously misses them, despite moving in with her best friend Shelby. But why don't the girls use their newly found time travel powers to transcend the boundaries of space and time to travel to the end of Cyd's parents ecological dig so she can live with them again? The humour is dull and repetitive and similar to every other Disney Channel series of recent memory and lacks the same wit and charm of That's So Raven, another Disney Channel series which had  a high-concept, time-manipulating psychic focus.

Yet again, Disney Channel has screwed with an interesting pilot and transformed it into a mess. They certainly know their audience however, like the short lived, high-concept series I Didn't Do It, I doubt Best Friends Whenever will have any impact in the future.

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