Cavemen (TV series)
|Created by||Joe Lawson|
Jeff Daniel Phillips
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13 (list of episodes)|
|Camera setup||Single-camera setup|
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Double Vision Productions
|Distributor||Disney–ABC Domestic Television|
|Original run||February 10, 2007– November 13, 2007|
Cavemen is an American sitcom that aired on ABC from October 2 to November 13, 2007. The show was created by Joe Lawson and set in San Diego, California. Based on the GEICO Cavemen commercials, which were also written by Lawson, the show was described by the network as a "unique buddy comedy that offers a clever twist on stereotypes and turns race relations on its head".
In the series, cavemen were never really fully supplanted by modern humans, but integrated into Homo sapiens civilization as a separate species sub-group. Cavemen are a small but widespread minority group that have been present in every global civilization since the dawn of recorded history (a montage scene in the opening credits shows Cavemen in Egyptian hieroglyphs, when George Washington crossed the Delaware River, standing with Abraham Lincoln, participating in the space program, etc.). Effectively, Cavemen form another ethnic minority in the modern world, which faces several prejudices from Homo sapiens (sometimes referring to humans by the derogatory term "Smoothies" in reference to their relative lack of hair, or "Sapes" in reference to their species). Although these cavemen self-identify as Cro-Magnon, their facial appearance and physical anatomy is reminiscent of the Neanderthal. (Cro-Magnon is actually not a different species of human ancestors. It refers to a specific group of archaeological discoveries near the Cro-Magnon rock formation in France, which are representative of early anatomically modern humans.) The writer and producers clearly intended to portray the protagonists as (or like) Homo neanderthalensis, which is anatomically different from modern humans, but sufficiently closely related that they are not always classed as a separate species.
Cavemen have prominent brow ridges and more body hair than Homo sapiens, but beyond superficial differences in appearance they actually are not that much different from modern humans in terms of behavior or physical abilities. Male Cavemen are very hairy, have thick long beards and wear their head-hair shoulder-length. A Cavewoman that appeared on the show also had a prominent brow ridge and comparatively more body hair than a modern human female. Some Cavemen attempt to pass as Homo sapiens by shaving their body hair - other Cavemen call them "shavers". The central humor of the show is that Caveman characters are not brutish primitives, but fully integrated into white-collar jobs; the central Cavemen characters are effete modern city-dwellers. They must also endure racial epithets such as "Magger", a pun based on "Cro-Magnon".
The series focuses on three Cavemen who are roommates that share a condo: Joel, his brother Andy, and their cynical and self-absorbed roommate Nick.
According to producer Joe Lawson, the show was originally going to be set in Newport News, Virginia, due to its proximity to the water. The setting then changed to Atlanta, Georgia and finally San Diego, California.
- Joel – The responsible straight-man of the group, a successful assistant-manager at a fashionable Norwegian furniture store (a parody of IKEA). In the pilot episode, Joel starts dating a Homo sapiens woman named Kate, and through subsequent episodes Joel tries to handle the hangups that come with inter-species dating.
- Andy – Joel's weak-willed and childish, though well-meaning, brother. Andy is a trained accountant but is typically between jobs during the time period of the series, and he is perpetually morose about being dumped by his ex-girlfriend and hoping she will take him back. Andy is very timid, but ironically he is prone to outbursts of road rage when he is driving.
- Nick – Joel and Andy's roommate, is metrosexual, cynical, self-absorbed, narcissistic, as well as pathologically lazy. Nick has no real job, though he claims to be "working on my dissertation", and tends to just mooch money off Joel. Nick's dissertation On Beyond Dualism: The Evolution of Symbology in a post-Primitive Society argues that modern popular culture is all just a ripoff of things that Cavemen have already done, and appears to have no real merit. Nick doesn't actually spend much time writing his dissertation, and "tends to just sit around watching TV and editing wikipedia". Nick has very effete and cultured tastes, believing himself to be intellectually superior to most people he meets, and overlooks the fact that he is simply lazy and does not believe in doing real work. Typically, Nick will blame his own failures (which are due to his innate laziness) on Caveman-based prejudice; case in point, when he filed an unlawful-termination lawsuit against Joel's furniture store when they fired him after he worked there a few days, claiming that they were prejudiced against him as a Caveman, but the store then revealed security camera footage which shows that Nick sat around listening to music all day and not working.
- Kate – Joel's Homo sapiens girlfriend whom he starts dating in the first episode. Joel is initially worried that she is embarrassed to tell her friends that she is dating a Caveman, and then is left with the fear that she might like him only because she has a fetish for Cavemen. Nonetheless, Kate and Joel seem to have developed a stable relationship.
- Leslie – Kate's eccentric mother is not on good terms with her husband, and each of them is actually cheating on the other without Kate's knowledge (Kate's father with the local weather-report girl, Kate's mother with a pool boy). Kate's mother is also the landlord of the condo complex that Joel, Andy, and Nick live in. A running gag is that in a parody of stereotypes of racism, Kate's mother cannot tell the difference between individual Cavemen. She does not try intentionally to be racist and is embarrassed that she appears to "think all Cavemen look the same", but nonetheless she does.
- Maurice – another Caveman-about-town who is a friend of Joel, Andy, and Nick and frequently plays squash with them, as well as cruising around in his sports car trying to pick up women. Maurice is played by actor Jeff Daniel Phillips who was one of the cavemen in the original GEICO Caveman commercials that inspired the series.
- Thorne – Kate's feisty roommate and best friend. She appeared to be developing a relationship with Joel's brother Andy.
- Bill English – Joel Claybrook
- Nick Kroll – Nick Hedge
- Sam Huntington – Andy Claybrook
- Kaitlin Doubleday – Kate McKinney
- Jeff Daniel Phillips – Maurice
- Stephanie Lemelin – Thorne
- Julie White – Leslie McKinney, Kate's mother
- John Heard – Tripp McKinney, Kate's father
- Evan Shafran – Nathan
- J. P. Manoux – Glen
- Kim Director – Heather
- Stephanie Courtney – Diane (ironically, Courtney is the spokeswoman for Progressive Corporation, a competitor to GEICO)
In March 2007, ABC gave a pilot order to a script written by Joe Lawson which was inspired by the GEICO Cavemen advertisements. Lawson would be executive producer alongside Guymon Casady, Josh Gordon, Daniel Rappaport and Will Speck. Gordon and Speck directed the pilot. Later in the same month, Bill Martin and Mike Schiff joined the staff as executive producers. ABC gave the series an early pick-up and a 13-episode order on May 11, 2007.
When the pilot was approved by the network in March, it was unclear if the original actors, Jeff Daniel Phillips and Ben Weber, who played the cavemen in the advertisements, were going to be part of the series. This was not to be when it was later reported that Nick Kroll, Kaitlin Doubleday, and Bill English had all landed roles in the series in the same month. Dash Mihok and Stephanie Lemelin were respectively cast in April as Jamie, Joel's younger brother, and Thorne, a party girl. John Heard rounded out the regular cast when he was chosen to play Trip in the same month. Mihok was replaced by Sam Huntington and the character of Jamie was renamed Andy in July. Tony Award winner, Julie White, was also promoted to a regular cast member as Kate's mother in the same month.
In July 2007 it was announced that Jeff Daniel Phillips had been cast for the series. He subsequently appeared in the first broadcast episode playing Maurice, a friend of the three main characters.
Pilot episode controversy
The initial limited screening of the pilot episode was met with a less than favorable reception. The pilot was accused of being racist because some critics thought the Cavemen were being used as a metaphor for blacks and other minorities. The series subsequently underwent a major creative "retooling", which included changing the show's venue from Atlanta, Georgia to San Diego, California. The pilot episode has remained unaired on ABC.
In terms of reception from the media the show was "critically savaged". The Chicago Tribune listed it as one of the 25 worst TV shows ever, and Adam Buckman of the New York Post declared the show "extinct on arrival." Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times wrote "I laughed. But I laughed through my pain. 'Cavemen,' set in some version of San Diego where people speak with Southern accents, doesn’t have moments as much as microseconds suspended from any attempt at narrative."
Other critics were more forgiving: H.T. Strong ("Hercules The Strong"), a regular columnist at Ain't It Cool News declared that the show's third episode "made me laugh aloud a number of times!" Pulitzer Prize-winning columinst Dorothy Rabinowitz also said that the show "has its charms... The chief source of that charm is the unmistakable hint of wit in the writing. Only a hint – but it's steady, which is enough to seduce."
Produced by ABC Studios and Management 360, the series originally aired alongside Carpoolers on Tuesday nights at 8:00 pm Eastern/7:00 pm Central. The series was placed on hiatus during the Writers Guild of America strike, and canceled before the strike ended. A total of 13 episodes were produced. The final seven episodes never aired in US markets but did however air in Australia.
After the show's cancellation, a Geico commercial was aired during Super Bowl XLII in which two cavemen watched television, switched it off, and had an exchange about Cavemen:
- (blows a raspberry) "Huh. A TV show. About us." (disbelievingly)
- "What was the deal with that makeup?"
- "Exactly! Why not just use real cavemen?"
- "Well, I thought their diction was good. You could hear everything they were saying. At least they didn't say 'It's so easy a...'"
- "Yeah. Yeah. At least there's that."
All 13 episodes were originally supposed to be released on DVD in 2008, however plans were put on hold and no other news has come from that since.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Production
|1||"Pilot"||Josh Gordon & Will Speck||Bill Martin & Mike Schiff||Unaired (USA)
September 10, 2008 (AUS)
|Joel, Andy and Nick are invited to a private barbecue which Kate's parents are having. Joel attempts to get Kate's father's blessing for him and Kate to marry.|
|2||"Her Embarrassed of Caveman"||Josh Gordon & Will Speck||Bill Martin & Mike Schiff||October 2, 2007||102|
|Joel thinks that his girlfriend is embarrassed to tell her friends that she is dating a caveman.|
|3||"Nick Get Job"||John Blanchard||Al Higgins||October 9, 2007||103|
|Nick gets a job at Norskbild, a home improvement center, through Joel. But when Nick is quickly fired for being a terrible worker, he considers his firing to be a discrimination act against him and immediately files a lawsuit against the company. Meanwhile, Andy scares a woman in an attempt to prove that he is not scary.|
|4||"The Cavewoman"||Linda Mendoza||Theresa Mulligan Rosenthal||October 16, 2007||105|
|Joel, Nick, and Andy visit a Fruitberry Frozen yogurt-shop, and Nick falls for the hot cavewoman, Heather, who works there.|
|5||"The Mascot"||Josh Gordon & Will Speck||Joe Lawson||October 23, 2007||104|
|Nick takes a job as a substitute teacher and discovers that the school's mascot is an offensive, stereotypical caveman — which leads him on a quest to have the mascot removed. Meanwhile, Andy's search for an accounting job comes to an end when Leslie hires him to balance her books. But he's torn about what to do when he discovers that Leslie has been dabbling in some creative financing for her lover that could both estrange her from her family and land.|
|6||"The Shaver"||Ken Whittingham||Jace Richdale||November 6, 2007||106|
|Joel gets a new Homo sapiens friend, Jake, but Nick suspects he's a shaver, a caveman who shaves his body hair in order to pass himself off as a homo sapiens. Meanwhile, Thorne is attracted to the beast in Andy.|
|7||"Rock Vote"||Millicent Shelton||Chris Kelly||November 13, 2007||108|
|Andy has people coming at him from two different directions: Nick and Joel want him to vote their way in the next election, while Thorne wants him to buy a gun after a burglary.|
|8||"Nick Jerk, Andy Work"||Josh Gordon & Will Speck||Luvh Rakhe||Unaired (USA)||107|
|Nick causes problems for Joel when his girlfriend Kate refuses to spend the night. Joel starts spending more time at her place and finds he'd rather be with his roommates. In the end, Joel moves back home and they all make compromises to get along. Andy starts working for SodaCo and his coworkers find him rather annoying. The entire office is forced to go through a series of seminars starting with "boundary training" because of him. He figures out that they can't fire him and continues to do all of the good-natured but annoying things that made everyone upset.|
|9||"Nick Sick"||Fred Savage||Scott Marder & Rob Rosell||Unaired (USA)
July 23, 2008 (AUS)
|Nick goes to see the student health centre with paresthesia in his buttocks, where he is advised by the caveman doctor to exercise more. While there, he learns that his CRP is up but he his told not to worry. However, he does research on the internet and finds out it could be a sign of leukocytosis. worried, he pretends to be Joel and uses his insurance to see a HMO who tells him he has appendicitis and schedules him for an appendectomy. Meanwhile Joel and Kate are having relationship troubles, with Kate using far-fetched excuses not to sleep with Joel and avoiding him. Their relationship has lasted three months, which is when Kate traditionally dumps her boyfriends. Joel's boss finds out about the surgery for Nick when the insurance calls, but believes it to be for Joel and so gives him time off. When Kate comes to break it off with Joel, she learns of his major surgery and rushes to the hospital where Joel, disgusted that she only came when she thought he was having surgery breaks it off with her.|
|10||"Caveman Holiday"||Lee Shallat-Chemel||Chris Kelly||Unaired (USA)||110|
|The boys are throwing a party because it is Long Night, a cavemen holiday that remembers when the cavemen did not die in the coldest day in history.|
|11||"Andy the Stand-Up"||Gail Mancuso||Jace Richdale||Unaired (USA)||111|
|Andy participates in Nick's open mic night, and becomes famous for his character of a dumb caveman.|
|12||"Cave Kid"||Lee Shallat-Chemel||Peter Saji||Unaired (USA)||112|
|Neighbors who adopt a cave kid ask Joel, Nick and Andy to be his mentor.|
|13||"Hunters & Gatherers"||John Blanchard||Joe Lawson||Unaired (USA)||113|
|Joel runs into trouble when he parks in an executive's parking space. Nick competes with Maurice for the attention of his ex-girlfriend, Heather, after Maurice explains his own charm with women in terms of hunter and gatherer roles, classifying himself as a hunter and Nick as a gatherer.|
Unless otherwise cited, the overnight rating and share information comes from Zap2It The following week, the Nielsen numbers from TVWeek.com. Additional ratings information, including the 18–49 rating, comes from BroadcastingCable and finally weekly overall ratings come from ABC Medianet
|1||"Her Embarrassed of Caveman"||October 2, 2007||6.1||10||3.3/10||9.06||#1||#34|
|2||"Nick Get a Job"||October 9, 2007||4.5||8||2.5/8||6.96||#3||#59|
|3||"The Cavewoman"||October 16, 2007||4.6||8||2.7/8||6.92||#3||#64|
|4||"The Mascot"||October 23, 2007||4.5||7||2.2/6||6.55||#4||#71|
|5||"The Shaver"||November 6, 2007||3.4||5||1.7/5||5.51||#4||#83|
|6||"Rock Vote"||November 13, 2007||3.3||5||1.6/5||4.61||#4||#84|
Seasonal ratings based on average total viewers per episode of Cavemen on ABC:
|Season||Timeslot (EDT)||Season Premiere||Season Finale||TV Season||Rank||Viewers
|1||Tuesday 8:00 pm (October 2, 2007 – November 13, 2007)||October 2, 2007||November 13, 2007||2007–2008||#107||6.6|
+ Information is current as of January 7, 2008.
The show was pulled off the ABC Network following the airing of the 6th Episode "Rock Vote" due to the sliding ratings.
- 2007: USA, Canada, U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Republic of Ireland
- 2008: France, Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Italy, Greece, India, Japan, Thailand and Dominican Republic
- Aired on Channel Seven in Australia in 2008.
- Aired on Comedy Central in the Netherlands in 2008.
- Cavemen at The Futon Critic
- Networks plot post strike plans
- Defending 'Cavemen' II: The Racial Insensitivity Question
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- DEVELOPMENT UPDATE: FRIDAY, MARCH 2 The Futon Critic
- DEVELOPMENT UPDATE: FRIDAY, MARCH 30 The Futon Critic
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- DEVELOPMENT UPDATE: MONDAY, APRIL 2
- DEVELOPMENT UPDATE: WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY, APRIL 4-5 The Futon Critic
- My Way
- Jonathan Storm | Hard to say who's the stupidest | Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/02/2007
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- Hercules Says CAVEMEN No Longer Worst Thing Ever!! - Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news
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- http://www.vulture.com/2008/04/cavefans_rejoice_cavemen_comin.html Caveman DVD Release
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