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Josh Reviews Angie Tribeca Season One

Considering that TBS decided to air all ten episodes of the first season of Angie Tribeca on one single day back in January, I suspect the network doesn’t have great confidence in this show.  That’s a huge mistake, because Angie Tribeca is a delight, a relentlessly silly show that is the best heir to Police Squad that I have ever seen.

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Rashida Jones stars as the titular Angie, a no-nonsense detective in the Los Angeles RHCU (Really Heinous Crimes Unit).  Angie Tribeca could be described as a parody of detective TV shows.  In some ways it is, but the show takes the very interesting and rewarding approach of aiming its comedy less towards being an incisive parody of the particular tropes of detective shows and more at just being very silly and random.  The show is stuffed with bizarre sight-gags and word-play, with jokes ranging from the very juvenile to the very clever.  The best comparison to the show’s humor truly is the classic Police Squad and the Naked Gun movies that show spawned.

One of my favorite jokes from the whole first season, and one that gives a great sense of the tone of the show, is a gag from the pilot episode in which Angie warns a suspect, played by Gary Cole, not to do anything stupid.  The camera then cuts to Mr. Cole’s character sticking a metal fork into a toaster.  You’ll know right away if this show is for you by whether that moment in the first episode makes you laugh.  It certainly cracked me up something fierce.

I quickly found myself quite taken with this show’s particular brand of humor.  I think it’s rather unusual for TV comedy today.  Created by Steve Carell and Nancy Walls Carell, Angie Tribeca embraces the silly in a way that really tickled me, and that I found quite endearing.

The show is a lovely showcase for Rashida Jones, who mostly plays the straight-person in the midst of chaos, a role she is able to handle with gusto.  My favorite of her supporting characters is her intense police captain, Atkins, played by Jere Burns.  (I recognized Mr. Burns’ face but when I looked at his imdb page, though he’s been in a lot of stuff I didn’t think I’d ever seen any of it.  Then I realized he played Jesse’s Narcotics Anonymous group leader on Breaking Bad, and I was floored because that was such a completely different role.)  I don’t quite know why but pretty much every single one of Mr. Burns’ slightly-yelled line-deliveries here on Angie Tribeca got me giggling.  I also really enjoyed the great Alfred Molina as medical examiner Dr. Edelweiss, a character who every time we see him is inexplicably pretending to suffer from a new disability.  Mr. Molina’s exuberance at playing such an off-the-wall character is infectious.

In the pilot, Angie is paired with a new partner, the earnest Jay Geils (Hayes MacArthur).  Geils appears to fall to his death at the end of that first episode, but I guess the producers liked Mr. MacArthur so they kept Geils around.  Mr. MacArthur is solid but I’d love to see Geils given a little more personality if this show gets a second season.  Deon Cole is also funny as DJ Tanner, another detective whose partner is a dog who everyone treats like a human.  That joke should get old really fast but somehow it still kept me amused throughout the season.

This first season has a great parade of guest actors.  I already mentioned Gary Cole (who is tremendous in the pilot episode).  It was also tremendous fun seeing Lisa Kudrow, James Franco, Adam Scott, Sarah Chalke, David Koechner, Keegan Michael-Key, Danny Trejo, and many many more hugely talented comedic performers, all of whom came to play.  They even somehow got Bill Murray to appear in an episode!!  I don’t know quite how that happened, but it’s a sight to behold.

If this first season has a weakness it’s that there is something of a sameness that crept in by the end of the ten episodes.  The jokes are still funny, but it feels like the show settled into a familiar groove perhaps a little too quickly.  This is a show probably best enjoyed by spacing out your viewings of the episodes, rather than tearing through them all in a binge.  (I watched them all over the span of 2-3 weeks, and even that might have been a little too fast.)  I read that there does appear to be a second season of ten additional episodes in the works — perhaps to air as soon as this summer! — and I hope that if that is indeed the case that in season two the creators are able to tell some different types of stories that might shake up the formula a bit.

The screaming gag that ends each episodes’ opening credits should alone warrant Angie Tribeca’s inclusion in the pantheon of great TV comedies.  I encourage folks to check out this little-seen show and give it a try.  This isn’t groundbreaking comedy, but it does feel somewhat unique in today’s TV landscape.  And it’s very, very funny.  What more could I ask for?

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