The vacant “whooshing” white noise you heard last night was Fred Savage’s new Fox show What Just Happened??! traveling through the airwaves and missing damn near every single antenna, fiber, cable, and internet tube that might have brought it into the homes of viewers. It tanked. Spectacularly. According to The Wrap, “a mere 809,000 total viewers watched” the season premier, and judging from the reactions it received on Twitter, none of those viewers liked what they saw.
To start with, WJH??! sounds confusing as hell. Ahead of the premiere, Fred told The Hollywood Reporter that when he was 12, he and his father moved to Hollywood for Fred’s role on The Wonder Years. Fred’s dad thought he was lonely so he bought him the first book in a series called The Moon Is the Sun at Night.
“I just fell into that world and immersed myself in that book, and from the pages of that book I got everything that I was looking for in that time in my life,” he recalls.
OK, that’s not actually true — at least, the part about The Moon Is the Sun at Night books. Instead, the above story is a part of the dense backstory built into Fox’s extremely meta comedy What Just Happened??! With Fred Savage, in which the actor, producer and prolific director stars as the host of a Talking Dead-esque post-show for a Fox drama called The Flare (which doesn’t exist), based on “author” TJ Whitford’s books (which also don’t exist).
The version of Savage seen in What Just Happened??!, per the aforementioned backstory, is a super-fan who invites celebrity friends …to “react” to the latest big reveals of The Flare, while also participating in standard talk show segments including interviews and games.
Here are a couple of clips. But watching them still won’t make this make sense.
Fox really must love Fred. First they made accusations against him of physical and verbal abuse on the set of The Grinder go away, then they happily threw money at him for a pitch that sounds like it was drunkenly screamed out from the back row as a suggestion at an improv show on a Tuesday night. And watch it get renewed anyway despite reviews like this.
#WhatJustHappened I'm not saying it's unwatchable, but I am saying I turned the channel, sold my TVs and canceled cable to make sure I never accidentally stumble upon this show again.
— Eric Decker (@ericldecker) July 1, 2019
Even if it does manage to make it to another season, it probably won’t last long. It seems like most of Fred’s shows get cancelled early for one reason (like alleged sexual harassment on The Wonder Years) or another (like The Grinder which starred Rob Lowe). But it sounds like all Fred has to do to get another show made is to drink a little NyQuil, head out to the desert with a notebook, and wander around a bit until inspiration strikes.