The idea of a sitcom based on an ad campaign doesn't exactly create a fervor of anticipation, even if the campaign in question is the modestly funny Geico 'so easy a caveman could do it' series of ads. And any sitcom that has to be completely retooled before its pilot airs--moving the setting from Atlanta to San Diego and recasting several roles along the way-would already seem to be heading toward extinction. But there are actually some surprises--including decent, timely, pop-culture jokes--to be unearthed in Cavemen, which exists in a bizarro-world that includes real, hairy Neanderthals living and dating among us. When Andy (Sam Huntington), the younger brother of protagonist Joel (Bill English), staggers off to call his ex, Joel's roommate Nick (Nick Kroll, who gets most of the best one-liners) says, 'Oh, great. Now we have to spend the weekend listening to James Blunt.' And the Ikea-knockoff where Joel works is spot-on satire.
A few moments of cleverness aside, the first episode falls back on standard sitcom clichés by taking full advantage of having an unexploited ethnic group as the hairy butt of jokes that would be considered racist if they were about a real group. 'Keep your penis in your genus' is a pretty good line but wouldn't go over too well if the dude delivering it were black, or Arab, or Chinese, or white, instead of being a easily discriminated-against caveman. If Cavemen is going to evolve, it will have to shake up its DNA, or it won't be long before it's as dead as the dodo.