The fall TV season doesn’t start officially until the week of Sept. 17, but NBC is previewing one of its new series now anyway. The opening seconds of Ferris Bueller are pointedly self-conscious, as the show’s title character (played by Charlie Schlatter) rips up a poster of Matthew Broderick, star of the 1986 movie on which this series is based, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. ”Matthew Broderick as me?” says the new Ferris, looking straight into the camera. ”No way. This is television. This is real.”
If there’s one thing television doesn’t need any more of, it’s that self-reflexive, postmodernist irony stuff that Moonlighting and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show ran into the ground. Let’s petition for an FCC ruling: No more talking into the camera!
You may recall that in the Ferris feature film, Bueller was a smug, obnoxious little hustler who was also a suburban high-school student; only Broderick’s natural charm made the movie bearable. Television’s Ferris is even more of a creep — he mouths off to his parents, his teachers, even his friends. He’s hateful, and the sister he hates so much — well, she’s even more hateful.
Producer-writer John Masius (St. Elsewhere, Dolphin Cove) has supplied Ferris with a few sharp lines (”I’m 16 and my consciousness consists of two forms: un- and sub-”), and what an adult viewer finds obnoxious in a TV teen like Ferris (did I mention that he’s hateful?) is probably exactly what teenage viewers will find admirable. Still, I can’t imagine an insufferable little twerp like this hanging around NBC’s lineup for too long. C-