While “The Big Bang Theory” producer Chuck Lorre clearly felt liberated plying his trade for Netflix, the resulting stoner comedy, “Disjointed,” runs on fumes. Kathy Bates stars as the proprietor of “Southern California’s finest and friendliest marijuana dispensary,” but there’s not enough weed in the Golden State to wring consistent laughs from a show that’s mostly as stale as an unwashed bong.
Like “The Ranch,” “Disjointed” brings the style of a traditional multi-camera comedy to the streaming service, complete with studio-audience laughter. But the writers also play with those conventions, such as incorporating commercial spoofs for pot-themed products, which is probably the cleverest recurring bit the show has to offer.
Other than that, “Disjointed” puffs out a series of tired gags about Bates’ earth goddess, Ruth, and her stoned-out staff of “budtenders” – a stock assortment of characters except for one emotionally deeper thread regarding the security guard Carter (Tone Bell), a war veteran. The show veers back to more familiar terrain with the prickly relationship between Bates’ free spirit and her MBA son Travis (Aaron Moten), who has his own ongoing flirtation with a coworker (Elizabeth Alderfer). (There are jokes about Travis’s dad being an African-American, the only reason to note that wrinkle.)
Inevitably, a few funny lines emerge amid the banter, such as one character telling another, “You’ll be happy to know that you’re a stereotype.” But there’s simply not enough inspiration to warrant sticking around after inhaling a four-episode sampling of the 20 half-hours ordered.
TV’s increasingly casual attitude toward pot can be seen in a number of reality shows devoted to the business of medicinal marijuana, as well as its use within premium series. Relaxed laws in various U.S. states are indicative of how far public opinion has moved since the “Reefer Madness” era, with clips from vintage pot-as-devil-weed fare cheekily featured in the opening credits.
Still, even with a gifted actress like Bates as its comedic and emotional anchor, “Disjointed” feels like a title in search of a show. And while it’s always tempting to partake when offered a show with an impressive creative pedigree, if the idea’s this shallow, Netflix should remember that it’s OK to just say “No.”
“Disjointed” premieres Aug. 25 on Netflix.