That's My Bush!

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That's My Bush!
ThatsMyBush.png
The That's My Bush! intertitle, featuring George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush back to back.
Genre Sitcom
Satire
Created by Trey Parker
Matt Stone
Starring Timothy Bottoms
Carrie Quinn Dolin
Kurt Fuller
Kristen Miller
Marcia Wallace
John D'Aquino
Charly Sianipar
Theme music composer Trey Parker
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 8 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Trey Parker
Matt Stone
Anne Garefino
Running time 22 minutes (approx.)
Production company(s) Important Television
Comedy Partners
Distributor Paramount Home Entertainment
Broadcast
Original channel Comedy Central
Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV)
Original run April 4, 2001 (2001-04-04) – May 23, 2001 (2001-05-23)
External links
Website

That's My Bush! is an American comedy television series that aired on Comedy Central from April 4 to May 23, 2001.[1] Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, best known for also creating South Park, the series centers on the fictitious personal life of President George W. Bush, as played by Timothy Bottoms. Carrie Quinn Dolin played Laura Bush, and Kurt Fuller played Karl Rove. Despite the political overtones, the show itself was actually a broad lampoon of American sitcoms, including lame jokes, a laugh track, and stock characters such as klutzy bimbo secretary Princess (Kristen Miller), know-it-all maid Maggie (Marcia Wallace), and supposedly helpful "wacky" next-door neighbor Larry (John D'Aquino).

The series was conceived in the wake of the 2000 presidential election between Bush and Al Gore. Parker and Stone were sure that Gore would win the election, and tentatively titled the show Everybody Loves Al. Thanks to the controversy regarding the election's outcome, the series was pushed back. Instead, the show was then plotted around Bush at the workplace.[2] The show received positive reviews, with The New York Times commenting, "That's My Bush! is a satire of hero worship itself; it is the anti-West Wing and the first true post-Clinton comedy. [...] This politically astute criticism is embedded in so much hysterical humor that the series never seems weighty."[3]

History[edit]

The entire idea behind the series was to parody sitcoms. The premise developed into having it be about the President in office. Parker recalled the idea came about three months before the 2000 Presidential election. The duo were "95 percent sure" that Democratic candidate Al Gore would win, and tentatively titled the show Everybody Loves Al.[2] It was, essentially, the same show: a lovable main character, the sassy maid, the wacky neighbor.[4] Parker said the producers did not want to make fun of politics, but instead lampoon sitcoms.[2] The duo watched a lot of Fawlty Towers in preparation.[4] The duo signed a deal with Comedy Central to produce a live-action sitcom, titled Family First, scheduled to debut on February 28, 2001.[5] They threw a party the night of the election with the writers, with intentions to begin writing the following Monday and shooting the show in January 2001 with the inauguration. With the confusion of who the President would be, the show's production was pushed back.[2] The duo wanted to write a "family sitcoms", with the Bush family. Comedy Central, however, prohibited Parker and Stone from including the Bush twins (Jenna Bush and Barbara Pierce Bush). The writers then turned the Bush twins character into Princess.[2] "An Aborted Dinner Date" was the show's pilot episode. The episode features Felix the Fetus, which was made and operated by the Chiodo Brothers, who later worked with Parker and Stone on Team America: World Police (2004).[6] They also created the cat Punk'kin in "The First Lady's Persqueeter". The show's producers consider the second episode aired, "A Poorly Executed Plan", the true first episode.[7]

This was Parker and Stone's first live-action production to be a part of the Writers Guild of America, West.[4] The show's writers got a big dry-erase board and on one side, they would write down political ideas (abortion, capital punishment) and on the other side would be typical sitcom stories (frat buddies show up, trapped in a small space).[8] They would then combine the two ideas, in what Stone described as "a Three's Company mix-up kind of thing."[9] That's My Bush! was filmed at Sony Pictures Studios, and was the first time Parker and Stone shot a show on a production lot. Spider-Man was being filmed around the same time frame that the show was in production.[8] The show was not shot in front of a live audience, so as to keep control over the show and by necessity, thanks to various shots they would be unable to do in a normal show.[10] They had built several rooms from the White House in their studio (bedroom, dining room) and were allowed "one new, rotating set" per week.[8] Parker described the sets as "amazing," and they were in fact packaged up after the show's run and sent to other White House-related productions. The show's producers gained inspiration by going on a private tour of the White House thanks to Anne Garefino, executive producer, who once worked at the White House for PBS. A White House usher showed the producers various rooms not allowed on normal tours, which allowed them to detail each set effectively.[9]

At 3 (PST) Tuesday afternoon, just like everybody else, we were thinking, "Well, it's going to be a show about Gore." And we're sitting here with the writers and coming up with Gore ideas, and all of a sudden they pull Florida back out. And it was like, "Oh, wait a minute." It's just so funny that this election, the one our show hinged on, was the one that was just too close to call.

Trey Parker, on the revision of the show[5]

Casting was relatively simple; Parker and Stone came across a photo of Timothy Bottoms in Variety for a play he was doing in Santa Barbara. Parker and Stone called him in, and they found he was "perfect" for the role.[8] The plan was not to viciously "rip on" Bush or make him out to be a monster; in accordance with sitcom stereotypes, Bush was made a sweet and lovable oaf.[8] Kurt Fuller was the last actor to be cast in the show.[11] Jeff Melman was the director for each episode. This was the first time Trey Parker was only writing, not directing.[12] Each episode was shot in two days. The weeks were spent writing and getting ready while the cast rehearsed.[13] Like South Park, in which Parker would be able to write a scene and see it animated a short time later, he and Stone could walk to rehearsals and see the cast rehearsing their script.[13] Each episode opened with a cold open, with a "cheesy" joke that segued into the theme song. The duo recalled that, with stupid titles, these scenes were often the hardest to write.[14] The episode "S.D.I. -Aye-Aye!"features the first utterance of the word "Lemmiwinks", which Parker and the writers intended to be a parody of The Lord of the Rings. The word was later famously used in the South Park episode "The Death Camp of Tolerance".[10] The show's first episode set a ratings record (at the time) for highest debut with over 2.9 million viewers tuning in; however, ratings dropped after this, with an average of 1.7 million viewers.[15]

During the production of "Fare Thee Welfare", the show's series finale, the producers knew the show would end as it would be very expensive.[16] For example, for the episode "Eenie Meenie Miney Murder", Parker and Stone used a live bear, an animatronic bear, an actor in a bear suit, and a puppet bear, which ended up breaking their budget.[9] Although the show received a fair amount of publicity and critical notice, according to Stone and Parker, the cost per episode was too high, "about $1 million an episode."[17] Comedy Central officially cancelled the series in August 2001 as a cost-cutting move; Stone was quoted as saying "A super-expensive show on a small cable network...the economics of it were just not going to work."[15] Comedy Central continued the show in reruns, considering it a creative and critical success.[17] Parker believed the show would not have survived after the September 11 attacks anyway, and Stone agreed, saying the show would not "play well."[12][18] There was talk of a spin-off feature film for the series entitled George W. Bush and the Secret of the Glass Tiger. The concept behind the film extended the bait-and-switch gag of the show: it would have to do with a Chinese invasion foiled by the President. Parker and Stone intended to work on it during the summer of 2002.[17] Parker recalls That's My Bush! "a great time in our lives," and "the most fun we've had in our careers."[2] That's My Bush! has had an effect on the structure of South Park: prior to 2001, each South Park episode was broken up into four acts. While producing That's My Bush!, Parker and Stone found the three-act structure provided a better story, and South Park has continued to use it in recent years.[14] Stone called the show one of the most pleasant experiences in his life.[18]

Episode formula[edit]

Episodes dealt (with deliberate heavy-handedness) with the topics of abortion, gun control, the war on drugs, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the death penalty. Every episode ended with George saying "One of these days, Laura, I'm gonna punch you in the face!", a parody of Jackie Gleason's line from The Honeymooners, "One of these days, Alice... Bang, zoom! Right to the moon!"

The show was more of a spoof of the banality of TV sitcoms in general rather than a cutting political satire. As The AV Club put it:[19]

[That's My] Bush!'s irresistibly gimmicky premise—a workplace sitcom centering on Bush and his wife Laura—represents a perverse act of extended misdirection. While audiences waited for Parker and Stone to tear into the Bush administration, they instead attacked the hoary conventions of 1970s and 1980s sitcoms, which proved a surprisingly apt target for satire and pop-culture riffing.

Cast[edit]

Prior to the 2000 Presidential Election[edit]

Parker and Stone stated before the 2000 Presidential Election that they would create a satire about whoever won. According to their DVD commentary, they were "95% certain that Gore would win" and started developing the series under the title Everybody Loves Al. When the final election results were in limbo, production was delayed until the winner was determined. With Bush's election, the title became the entendre-rich That's My Bush! The final episode involved Dick Cheney forcing Bush to step down, and featured an alternate title music called That's My Dick! which, later in the episode, changed to What A Dick!

DVD release[edit]

A DVD set containing the entire series, plus commentaries by cast and crew, was released in North America on October 24, 2006.

Episodes[edit]

# Title Original airdate
1 "An Aborted Dinner Date" April 4, 2001 (2001-04-04)
George tries to have a dinner with Laura and a publicity dinner at the same time.
Political Issue: Pro-life and pro-choice rights.
Sitcom Plot: Trying to attend two engagements at once.
2 "A Poorly Executed Plan" April 11, 2001 (2001-04-11)
George tries to impress his old frat buddies with an execution.
Political Issue: The death penalty.
Sitcom Plot: A visit from old friends prompts an elaborate ruse.
3 "Eenie, Meenie, Miney, MURDER!" April 18, 2001 (2001-04-18)
George, going by the advice of a telephone psychic, believes he will be murdered by someone in the White House.
Political Issue: Gun control laws.
Sitcom Plot: One character mistakenly believes the other characters are plotting behind his back.
4 "S.D.I. - Aye-AYE!" April 25, 2001 (2001-04-25)
George tries to illegally hook up cable and accidentally shoots a laser into Austria.
Political Issue: The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).
Sitcom Plot: Trying to conceal a blunder that the character was warned against making.
5 "The First Lady's Persqueeter" May 2, 2001 (2001-05-02)
George tries to put Pun'kin, the Bush family cat to sleep, while Laura tries to improve her "downtown area" after mishearing George's conversation.
Political Issue: Assisted suicide.
Sitcom Plot: Mishearing a conversation leads to a wildly incorrect conclusion.
6 "Mom 'E' D.E.A. Arrest" May 9, 2001 (2001-05-09)
Laura tries to impress George's mother Barbara by organizing the War on Drugs Arrest ceremony while George accidentally takes ecstasy.
Political Issue: The War on Drugs.
Sitcom Plot: Trying to impress the mother-in-law.
7 "Trapped in a Small Environment" May 16, 2001 (2001-05-16)
Laura and George successfully set up Karl with one of Laura's friends, only to find out that he is married, while rioters outside protest oil drilling in Alaska.
Political Issue: Oil drilling in Alaska.
Sitcom Plot: Characters that do not get along must cooperate when they are trapped together.
8 "Fare Thee Welfare" May 23, 2001 (2001-05-23)
Series finale. After losing an important peace treaty, George is removed from office by Dick Cheney and tries to find a new job.
Political Issue: Presidential impeachment.
Sitcom Plot: Being fired from your job. Also parodies the conventions of series finales and spin-offs.

See also[edit]

  • Strip Mall – another Comedy Central sitcom cancelled at the same time as That's My Bush! due to cost reasons.
  • Lil' Bush – animated series satirizing Bush, also on Comedy Central
  • Cory in the House – a series where John D'Aquino plays the president.
  • 1600 Penn

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Press release (February 7, 2001). "New Series: That's My Bush". Comedy Central. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "A Poorly Executed Plan" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  3. ^ James, Carolyn (April 1, 2001). "That's My Bush: A Raucous Leap Into a New Era". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Stone, Matt (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "A Poorly Executed Plan" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  5. ^ a b Carina Chocano (November 8, 2000). "Bush or Gore, it's trippy either way". Salon.com. Retrieved June 17, 2011. 
  6. ^ Stone, Matt (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "An Aborted Dinner Date" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  7. ^ Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "An Aborted Dinner Date" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "Eenie Meenie Miney Murder" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  9. ^ a b c Stone, Matt (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "Eenie Meenie Miney Murder" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  10. ^ a b Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "S.D.I. -Aye-Aye!" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  11. ^ Stone, Matt (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "Trapped in a Small Environment" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  12. ^ a b Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "The First Lady's Persqueeter" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  13. ^ a b Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "Mom "E" D. E. A. Arrest" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  14. ^ a b Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "Trapped in a Small Environment" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  15. ^ a b "That's My Bush cancelled". Sun Journal. AP Newswire. August 3, 2001. Retrieved March 14, 2010. 
  16. ^ Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "Fare Thee Welfare" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  17. ^ a b c Lynn Elber (August 3, 2001). "Comedy Central Cancels "That's my Bush"". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. AP Newswire. Retrieved March 14, 2010. 
  18. ^ a b Stone, Matt (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "The First Lady's Persqueeter" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 
  19. ^ Nathan Rabin (November 8, 2006). "That's My Bush - The Definitive Collection". The AV Club. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 

External links[edit]