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Josh Reviews Angie Tribeca Season Three!

Angie Tribeca is this era’s Police Squad, a very funny, very silly show about L.A. detective Angie Tribeca, played by Rashida Jones, and her coterie of fellow homicide investigators on L.A.’s “Really Heinous Crimes Unit.”  But Angie Tribeca is not a cop show, nor is it really a parody of a copy show.  Rather, the cop show framework is used as a scaffolding upon which one delightfully nutty stream of consciousness gag after another can be hung.  The show has far more in common with Airplane! and The Naked Gun than it does with any standard TV detective show.

In its third season, Angie Tribeca doesn’t have the surprising freshness that so delighted me back in its initial season.  But the show has settled into a wonderfully pleasing groove.  This is not genius-level innovative television.  But it is tremendously enjoyable and rather unique in today’s television landscape.  This is a show that values being silly above all other virtues, and I sort of love it for that.

This ten-episode third season remains mostly episodic, with each episode standing on its own while several plot threads run across the season.  The best new development this year was the inclusion of Chris Pine as a Hannibal Lecter-like character to whom Rashida Jones’ Angie turns for help.  I have enjoyed seeing movie-star Chris Pine pop up in some small comedic roles on TV (most notably his terrific guest appearance in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp), but I was not prepared for how amazing he would be here.  Mr. Pine is absolutely the best thing about this season of Angie Tribeca.  His warped impression of Sir Anthony Hopkins as Lecter is brilliant and fall-on-the-floor hilarious.  This is a home run.

The show’s main cast, anchored by the amazing Rashida Jones, continues to be terrific.  This team of performers are all very funny and game for absolutely anything.  I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see quite so much of Alfred Molina this year, but he was a pleasure whenever he did pop up.

There were quite a few fun guest stars this season.  After Chris Pine, my favorite would have to be Natalie Portman, who appeared in “This Sounds Unbelievable, but CSI: Miami Did It” (that is a terrific episode title, by the way!) as a NASA scientist who nevertheless looked and acted like a cliche 60’s housewife.  Ms. Portman plays this brilliantly.

Heather Graham, Randall Park, Rob Riggle, Ed Helms, Lizzy Caplan, Rob Heubel, Rachel Dratch, Constance Zimmer, Ernie Hudson, Jean Smart, Mary McCormack, Stephen Root, and Jack McBrayer all pop up at various points during the season, and they are all very funny.

I enjoyed this season’s running gag of the cast traveling to different locales, prompting different versions of the opening credits as well as Jere Burns playing a variety of relatives of his character, Captain Atkins, who all seem to look and sound exactly like Captain Atkins.  Basically, watching Jere Burns scream his every line of dialogue is never not funny.

If the show has any weakness, it’s that it hasn’t successfully deepened any of the characters.  If you compare Angie Tribeca to, say, shows like the American version of The Office or Parks and Recreation (both shows in which Rashida Jones appeared), by the end of their third seasons I felt that as a viewer I had really grown to love the characters and invested in their personal and romantic story-lines.  That hasn’t happened on Angie Tribeca.  I think this is intentional, but to be honest I’m not entirely certain.  Season three does give both Angie and Geils a lot of stories featuring their on-again, off-again romantic relationship, as well as other areas of their personal lives, from Angie’s conflicted feelings about being a mother and her fraught relationship with her absentee father, to Geils’ attempts to advance in his career towards being a Lieutenant.  But few of these stories had any real emotional traction for me.  For me, this is what keeps Angie Tribeca as a very good show, rather than a great show.

But Angie Tribeca is, without a doubt, a very, very good show!!  It is consistently funny and clever and joyous.  I feel like the show isn’t getting much attention, but this series is definitely worth your time.  Give it a chance.

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