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Great geckos alive! New life for ad stars

 
By HEATHER SVOKOS and ERIN WHITE, McClatchy
First published: Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It's pretty rare for a commercial character to inspire a full-fledged TV series. One that comes to mind was Baby Bob, a talking infant who hawked an Internet service before getting his own (wretched) show, and then going on to become a spokesbaby for Quizno's subs.

 
Tonight, the Geico Caveman joins this dubious fraternity, when the sitcom "Cavemen" premieres on ABC. But, hey, if it actually takes off, we might be seeing a rush to emulate its success. And, naturally, we have a few commercial characters and treatment ideas for the network suits.

Because really. If a caveman can get his own sitcom ... .

*"Ben and the Duck"

Starring: Ben Affleck and the Aflac Insurance duck.

Premise: Affleck plays himself in this comedy about an actor-turned-insurance-agent whose life is turned upside down by a talking duck that keeps screaming, "Aff-fleck!" from adjoining offices anytime someone says Ben's first name.

Wacky neighbor: Ben's real-life younger brother, Casey, who infuriates Ben by continually cracking up at the duck's tired joke.

Pilot: After one too many quacks, Ben has the duck fired, and he can finally work in peace. Until he learns that the duck's replacement is the dancing Six Flags guy, who's constantly accompanied by that infernal song. Ben quickly gets the duck rehired, thus ensuring the continuation of zany hijinks.

*"Raising the Steaks"

Starring: The Chick-fil-A Cows and Jack in the Box.

Premise: The Cows seem like model employees of Jack in the Box. But unbeknownst to Jack and his company, they're actually shrewd agents working for the rival Chick-fil-A to infiltrate the burger chain -- not only to perpetrate covert sabotage, but to save their very hides.

Wacky neighbor: That scary-looking Burger King guy, who randomly wanders in to steal someone's lunch out of the fridge but is never confronted, on account of the creepy.

Pilot: The Cows go on their first harrowing mission: They must vandalize as many Jack in the Box billboards as they can with their clever "Eat Mor Chikin" tactics. J.J. Abrams will pen the pilot; Jennifer Garner will play a pivotal guest role.

*"Call Me"

Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones and Paul "Can You Hear Me Now?" Marcarelli. (In case you've forgotten, Zeta-Jones used to hawk T-Mobile, and the bespectacled Marcarelli is the Verizon Wireless guy who shows up everywhere, asking, "Can you hear me now?")

Premise: In the spirit of James Carville and Mary Matalin, can a marriage between diametrically opposed cellphone users work? To complicate the household even more, their tween daughter, the text-happy, rebellious Beth Ann, refuses to let go of her Cingular plan.

Wacky neighbor: Beth Ann's BFF, Jill

Pilot: Catherine goes through the roof when her Verizon hubby brings his 62 million-strong network of friends home for dinner.

*"Sonic Boom"

Starring: The Sonic front-seat team (improv actors Molly Erdman and Brian Huskey), who riff on the culinary delights to be found at Sonic Drive-In.

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