Apparently Sonny With a Chance has its own within-show, a tweeny variety series called So Random. The name reminds me a similar, real-life teen comedy show, Way Cool, which featured a young Lisa Gay Hamilton and no one else worth mentioning. (Attorney Rebecca Washington, TV misses you! Come back!) But soon enough, So Random will become so familiar to any household unlucky enough to play a lot of Disney Channel, because in Lovato’s absence the time slot will be filled with full-length episodes of So Random. And while I can barely force myself to care about another Disney spawn forced off the deep end, I have to admit that this is rare and noteworthy.
Anyway, this is what Disney execs decides they could slap on TV, apparently with the motivation “Eh, someone will watch it.”
The closest to this I can recall happening previously would be when Fernwood 2 Night spun-off from the nighttime soap Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, meaning that both an established series and TV show set in that series’ universe we airing side-by-side. Especially for 70s TV, Fernwood 2 Night was a bit of a reality bender — Martiin Mull hosted, playing Barth Gimble, twin brother of his Mary Hartman character, Garth Gimble, and random celebrities found reasons to make appearances, such as Tom Waits, But I’m not sure that Fernwood 2 Night existed before it became its own show.
No, I’m willing to bet that this weird situation with So Random is a first. It would be like if ABC just ran a series of Invitation to Love after Twin Peaks got cancelled, or if Daria’s Sick, Sad World were given a full season, or Springtime for Hitler had done a run on Broadway instead of The Producers, or if J.J. Abrams had just followed-up Lost with Exposé and given Kiele Sanchez the shot at fame someone, somewhere thought she deserved. Clearly, I can go on and on in this style — if Fox just played thirty minutes of Itchy and Scratchy murdering each other!!! — but I’ll stop.
Before I never talk about Demi Lovato again, I’ll say this much about her show: It also stars a young actress named Allisyn Ashley Arm, which I almost want to be, like, a Peyton Place reference or something, but then, also, no, I don’t, at all. Mr. and Mrs. Arm: When your daughter’s last name is a body part, you needn’t misspell her name and employ alliteration to make her seem more distinctive.
Finally, yes, that’s what Lovato’s show is called: Sonny With a Chance. The title seems designed for mockery, encouraging us to supply a phrase to complete the thought. For the moment, … of Surprise Rehab Visits seems like the best add-on, though in general I approve of Sonny With a Chance of Marauding Cannibals, Sonny With a Chance of Casual Racism and Sonny With a Chance of Pricey Product Placement. Hey, kids, try and make up your own!