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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 … [continued]

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The Top Twenty Episodes of TV in 2016 — Part One!

I hope you all enjoyed my list of the Twenty Best Movies of 2016!  And now, onward to TV…

Just like I felt when considering all the movies I’d seen in 2016, on the one hand I feel like I watched a lot of amazing TV in 2016, and on the other hand, in this era of Peak TV I feel that what I saw was just a drop in the bucket compared to all the great TV that is out there.  I never found time to watch: Veep, Transparent, Silicon Valley season 3, Horace and Pete, Atlanta, Better Things, Roots, The Man in the High Castle, Preacher, Powers season 2, Documentary Now!, Halt and Catch Fire, Red Oaks, Lady Dynamite, Fleabag, Search Party, Rectify, The Good Place, and many other great shows.

But, on the other hand, I saw so much great TV that I felt the need to expand what had once been a Top Ten list and which was, in 2015, a Top Fifteen list, to a TOP TWENTY list this year.

And so, I am proud to present to you my list of the Top Twenty Episodes of TV in 2016:

20. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: “President-Elect Trump” (aired on 11/13/16) — Week in and week out in 2016, John Oliver solidified his claim as heir to the throne of Jon Stewart (whose tenure as host of The Daily Show was deeply, profoundly missed this tumultuous election year).  I was all set to write about Mr. Oliver’s searing indictment of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump in his “Make America Drumpf Again” episode (watch it here), or his warnings about the dangers of Brexit (watch it here), and yet following the upheaval of November 8th I found I could only post Mr. Oliver’s final show of 2016, which aired just a few days after the election.  Mr. Oliver perfectly summed up the emotions felt by the almost 66 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton.  You can watch the whole episode at the link above.  It’s been a rough past few weeks without Mr. Oliver’s presence and I can’t wait for his return in early 2017.

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19. Daredevil: “New York’s Finest” (season two, episode three, released on 3/18/16) — The second season of Netflix’s Daredevil wasn’t as consistently spectacular as season one, but other than the anticlimactic rooftop ending I still thought it was a great season of superhero TV.  This third episode was a standout, possibly the high point of the season-long story of Daredevil’s confrontation with violent vigilante Frank Castle (“the Punisher”).  This episode begins with DD defeated and chained up on a roof in … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Angie Tribeca Season Two!

Last spring I devoured the first ten-episode season of Rashida Jones’ Angie Tribeca, a wonderfully clever, gloriously silly show.  In my review of season one I compared Angie Tribeca to a modern-day version of Police Squad.  The show follows a team of homicide detectives but it’s not really a police procedural parody.  It’s more like the show uses the framework of a police procedural to cram in as many crazy, often-very-random jokes as humanly possible.  I loved that first season and so I was delighted that only a few months later a second ten-episode season was released on TBS.

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Unironic silliness can be hard to achieve, but Angie Tribeca nails it.  The show is a riot, chock full of absurdity and craziness, puns and sight-gags and slapstick and wordplay and lots more.  The jokes are piled high, with gags coming fast and furious.  This is a show that makes me laugh a lot.

Once again, Rashida Jones plays the titular Angie Tribeca, a Los Angeles homicide detective.  The whole gang from season one is back, including Hayes MacArthur as Angie’s partner Giles, Jere Burns as their boss (and my favorite character on the show) Lt. Atkins, Deon Cole as DJ Tanner (a great Full House joke), Andree Vermeulen as medical examiner Dr. Scholls (come on, all of these character names are so great!), and Alfred Molina as Dr. Edelweiss.

Rashida Jones is, as always, terrific in the lead role.  Alfred Molina’s one-scene-per-episode is always a highlight, allowing the great Mr. Molina to act increasingly crazy to enormous comedic effect.  I commented above that Jere Burns as Lt. Atkins is my favorite character on the show, and though he has fierce competition from Mr. Molina’s Dr. Edelweiss, I stand by that assessment.  I have fallen in love with Mr. Burns’ crazy deadpan, half-yelling delivery.  It’s amazing.

Season two had an incredible parade of amazing comedic guest stars.  Jon Hamm, Busy Phillips, Heather Graham, Mary McCormack, Maya Rudolph, Newsradio’s Vicki Lewis, Saul Rubinek, and many more familiar faces all appear in season two and are so, so funny.  I also have to highlight Noah Wylie and Eriq La Salle, who pop up in a brilliant E.R. reunion in “Organ Trail.”  But my favorite cameo of the season has to be Kevin Pollak’s appearance as the punchline to a brilliant A Few Good Men joke in “Beach Blanket Sting-O.”

Whereas all ten episodes in season one were pretty much stand-alone installments, here in season two they have opted for a different tack.  Each episode does still have it’s own distinct, usually outlandish murder investigation, but the whole season is linked together by several running story-lines, including Angie’s split from Giles (and a … [continued]

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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 … [continued]