Now, when Entertainment Weekly goes out and refers to a show as this season's Freaks and Geeks, I pretty much feel obligated to like it. Add in a number of crew members from the late, lamented Undeclared - notably producer Victor Hsu and director Greg Motlolla (whose The Daytrippers is an unheralded 90's indie comedy classic - and you'd think I'd have found a winner. And, just to sweeten the deal, throw in David Cross, who is, for my money, one of the funniest comedians around (despite a willingness to do some horrible material).
I hate this show.
Or, more precisely, I hated the first few episodes. Not remotely funny. Trying so very hard to be "quirky." Just generally annoying. Others continued to heap praises upon it, and I just didn't get it.
And then a funny thing happened. For a couple episodes, David Cross disappeared. And they brought in Liza Minelli. And it got funny. Really funny. Everything sort of fell into place, the writers stopped trying so hard, and it started to feel like a real show. A real show I could actually enjoy.
Which, as an avowed David Cross fan, is a difficult thing to say, but I think I've nailed down the problem. While David Cross is funny, he's always funny in his own way. On a show like this, where they are trying for a very specific and delicate style of humor, throwing in a wrong note completely ruins the whole thing, and, since David Cross can really only do one tone, he threw off the balance they needed. Much like Will Farrell's dismantling of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back or that episode of Undeclared, introducing the wrong style of comedy can completely ruin a fledgeling TV show. (I would like to go on the record as stating that, unlike Will Farrell, David Cross is at least funny in the context of his stand-up act, or on Mr. Show. Will Farrell is never funny. Ever.)
Rating: C (Needs more Liza, less David)Reviewed by Padgett Arango