Are aliens funnier on TV?

Are aliens funnier on TV?

While all of the American box office is challenged this week by the Olympics, but The Watch is probably going to be seen as under performing, especially with the star power.

That got me thinking about other comedies with aliens…and I was struck by how a few big-screen disappointments came to mind. However, I next started thinking about successful TV comedies with aliens.

I’m not talking about the content, specifically, but about the box office/ratings…and yes, the pop cultural impact.

Under-performing alien comedy movies included:

  • Martians Go Home (with Randy Quaid)
  • Visit to a Small Planet (with Jerry Lewis)
  • Spaced Invaders (Disney pic with incompetent aliens landing on Halloween)
  • Coneheads (we’re talking about the movie, which grossed about $20m in the USA)

Successful alien comedy TV series? You could probably pick at least one for every decade:

  • My Favorite Martian
  • Mork and Mindy
  • ALF
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun

Certainly, these aren’t absolute laws…if you classify Men in Black as a comedy, that’s clearly an exceptional success, and Far Out Space Nuts (which, like every geek series ever has its fans), only lasted a season (and is probably out of mind for the vast majority of people).

Still, it seems to me that the odds of succeeding with a big screen alien comedy are much smaller than the odds of succeeding with a small screen one.

If that’s the case, would there be a reason?

I think an alien comedy is typically going to work by contrasting the alien with the “real world”. A television series, even a goofy sitcom, becomes so familiar, it seem more real to us than a movie. TV series let the writers do a lot of small bits over time…movies have to have a few “high value events”.

Does that bode well for the Dan Fogelman series, The Neighbors, debuting this fall?

Well, trends aren’t guarantees…but having aliens may help The Neighbors make it to that second season.

What do you think? Are aliens funnier on TV?

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.


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