Film and TV

The Wil Wheaton Project Can Get Way Nerdier

A few years ago President Obama said that being smart is cool again. In fairness, the president's smarts, aside from the fact that he is very smart, include B-ballin', hanging with Jay Z, and rapping with Jimmy Fallon. But there must be something to the idea that nerds are in vogue: Comic conventions are cool, fantasy/sci-fi television gets the highest ratings and no one can stop tweeting about the new Star Wars movie.

With that said, it's no wonder that Wil Wheaton, the self-proclaimed geek, who got his break on Star Trek: The Next Generation, should get his own TV show. The Wil Wheaton Project premiered on the SyFy Network last week, airing weekly on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. CT.

I have said before on this blog that I love Wil Wheaton and used to find him sexy in his skin-tight Star Trek uniform as a young girl. This admission got him to Tweet at me, which made the little girl who is still inside of me squeal like a ...well, I guess like a little girl. But I didn't want my adolescent feelings for the actor, author, blogger and Internet super-hero to cloud my judgment of his new show.

The Project is more or less The Soup with a focus on sci-fi, fantasy and geek culture, if you will. Wheaton stands in front of a green screen and dishes on such culture while poking fun at the same time. He has guests come on and play games and such while promoting whatever it is that they are trying to push. He also cuts known TV programs and movies into mocking commercials, such as Tuesday night's ad for Christian Bale "gruff voice" lozenges, 'a la Batman. Let's just say this again, it's The Soup, for "nerds."

But is it good? Well, that's a good question. Wil Wheaton is great. He is warm, sweet and eager to please. Unlike The Soup's Joel McHale, who thinks he is the funniest guy in the room, Wheaton is still rather unsure of himself as a comedian and it makes him that much more endearing. As I watched him crack jokes at the expense of others, I was happy for him. I am routing for Wil Wheaton.

But is it funny? Not yet. And I say not yet because I have faith that it will be. Wheaton sells the jokes the best he can, the problem is in the jokes themselves. Sure Christian Bale's gruff sounding Batman makes no sense; why does he talk that way when masked, but not when he's Bruce Wayne? But we all asked that very question in 2005. That's a nine year old joke, guys. Other more current jokes, such as that of (SPOILER) Oberyn on Game of Thrones' horrific head exploding death being likened to Gallagher smashing a watermelon is cute, but I saw it on the Internet on Monday. Are the writers culling their jokes from memes? That's not smart at all.

Some of the funniest moments on the show were when Wheaton made silly asides that didn't appear to be scripted, one of which I think was over my head.

And that got me thinking: If this is a geek show, go balls to the wall geek. Why try and make this an everyman's show? That show already exists. I think The Wil Wheaton Project can turn into an insane cult hit if it really focuses on its audience: nerds. Wheaton knows these people well, he is one of them, and they love him. The guy has 2.6 million Twitter followers. If every one of them watched his show, it would do better in ratings than just about every NBC sitcom combined.

Wheaton needs to bust out obscurity. Jokes about Hannibal, who cares? Let's see some jokes about Battlestar Galactica. No, that's too popular; let's get some jokes about The Periodic Table of Middle Earth. I want Wheaton to interview some Larpers and take them seriously because maybe he is one. I want at least three jokes that have gaming hacks in them, one, obviously, being Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right BA, Start. Seriously, let's get some humor about the Konami Code.

Will I watch more of The Whil Wheaton Project? I think so. It's on my DVR and I don't remember how to cancel season passes. Plus, I want to see how it progresses.

For now, I give it three and a half Borgs out of five.

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig