”We’re the Guys!/We’re the Guys Next Door/We’re the Guys Next Door/Wo-oh!” sing the five fresh-scrubbed, seriously moussed young men (ages 17 to 21) who represent NBC’s cheerfully craven, not-quite-acknowledged attempt to cash in on the blockbuster success of New Kids on the Block. But these new Guys don’t just sing. They dance! They act! They joke around! They even have an opening theme: ”The word is hot!/Out on every street!” they chant, a little wishfully. By early September, their album (also called Guys Next Door) and single will be in stores, their faces will grace posters, and their series (being given a prime-time launch) will have landed in its permanent Saturday-morning time slot. Wait a minute — should anyone be allowed to get famous this quickly? Doesn’t the public get a vote?
If you think this all sounds hatefully slick and prefabricated, the pilot episode of Guys Next Door won’t do much to change your mind. The series styles itself as a zero-ao-antion-span half-hour of sketch comedy and mild satire, Monkees-like antics, and songs aimed at young teenage girls. Guys establishes its level of wit early, when two of the Guys, playing Fashion Police, make fun of fat people. A later sketch, Rockin’ Aerobics, offers such exercises as Gene Simmons tongue-thrusts and Mick Jagger lip-ups. Finally, there’s a thick-tongued hood who mangles fairy tales in swaggering Brooklynese. Just what Saturday-morning TV needs: a cleaned-up Andrew Dice Clay.
Intercut with the sketches are a couple of ready-made rock videos, safely rebellious dance pop in which the Guys sing lines like ”I’m gonna do ya right” and ”Bust your attitude!” and try without much success to look fierce and stubbled. Taking a lesson from their grownup counterparts, the Guys’ videos feature women only as gorgeous, strutting ornamentation — an attitude that NBC should be ashamed to perpetuate. The show also offers ”Instafax,” close-up moments that provide an on-screen fan magazine in which we get to see the soulful side of each Guy. ”I like to buy boots,” says Eddie, a former backup dancer for Michael Jackson. On the screen below him, a printout reads ”Likes: Girls.”
On a recent segment of Entertainment Tonight, the quintet of young performers struggled to differentiate themselves from the New Kids. ”We have a TV show,” one offered plaintively, ”so that totally sets us apart.” Sorry, Guys: the New Kids are coming to ABC’s Saturday-morning schedule next month. Where does that leave the Guys Next Door? The tidiest verdict comes from a character in the series, a mock network executive who calls the Guys ”inbred cretins with Robert Downey Jr. haircuts.” Well, somebody had to say it. D