Monday, January 25, 2016

REVIEW: 'Angie Tribeca' - Tribeca is Assigned a New Partner and Must Help the Mayor When He's Blackmailed in 'Pilot'

TBS' Angie Tribeca - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

The mayor is being blackmailed and the lieutenant is just sick about it. Angie Tribeca is assigned a new partner, J. Geils, to find the blackmailer and bring him to justice. The only problem? Tribeca works alone.

Angie Tribeca is the first new show coming out of a network rebrand for TBS. Current network president Kevin Reilly has been developing shows that are much edgier and more relevant in today's world. TBS did solid business under its old business model. It still does phenomenal numbers with Big Bang Theory repeats. But the network is also trying to distinguish itself while bringing more attention and acclaim to the network. I enjoyed a couple of the shows under the old regime - especially Ground Floor. But they didn't fit the new network model so they were quickly sent away. And now, new single camera comedies are coming to replace them in an attempt to make TBS more successful and critically acclaimed.

Angie Tribeca is the first of the new wave. Even though it was developed before Reilly's time at the network, it still fits his vision of what the network can be. The network is even embracing a truly distinctive release strategy for the show as well. All 10 episodes of the series are airing as a part of a 25-hour marathon without commercials. That just got started tonight. This review will only cover the first episode. Additional episodic reviews will be coming much later in the week - though I do look forward to seeing more of this truly bizarre and funny show. But the marathon makes it easy for viewers to just sit back and enjoy 10 episodes of this hilarious comedy. Based on one episode, it seems like a perfect show to binge watch. So, it does appear as if TBS is doing something smart with this show - even though all the promos were pretty terrible.

Angie Tribeca is a spoof of police procedurals. It follows Rashida Jones' Angie Tribeca and her unit of detectives as they solve cases in the most absurd and outrageous ways possible. It's a multiple jokes every minute kind of show. That also makes it very hit and miss in this first episode. Some of the outlandish things that the show goes for here are truly inspired and imaginative. They work so well because the show commits so fully to the outrageous and over-the-top nature of the joke. However, if the joke doesn't work so well, then seeing it play out in this big and broad way makes it very noticeable and awkward. And thus, it lessens the overall effectiveness of the episode. But no matter how many jokes don't land, the show is able to breeze past them to the next set of jokes. So the awkwardness doesn't linger for too long. That gives the show a nice breezy and relaxed tone to it that makes it very accessible.

Some of the jokes that work really well include Angie's aggressive morning routine, Angie going to interview the Mayor's wife, the sexual tension between Angie and her partner Geils and the pursuit of Gary Cole's blackmailer. It's especially great that Angie's morning workout is able to come full circle during the pursuit of the blackmailer. The main case of Angie and Geils trying to figure out who is blackmailing the mayor was quite amusing as well and showcases just what kinds of cases this show will actually be investigating on an episodic basis. It's something that is commonplace on procedurals. The detectives have to be sensitive because they are investigating a crime connected to a public figure. But that easily goes awry once they start interviewing suspects. It's hilarious as Angie sets down with the mayor's wife - played by co-creator Nancy Carell - and she keeps offering the detective food that she seemingly pulls out of nowhere. That's a visual joke that is very effective. It also showcases how the suspects are typically doing something while the detectives are trying to ask them questions. That is also on display when Angie and Geils interviewing the mayor's mistress. Lisa Kudrow trying to guess what the mayor's lower back tattoo is was just a strong list of funny options. It wasn't incredibly necessary but it did showcase just how funny the show is capable of being.

Some of the jokes that didn't work so well were the lieutenant telling Angie she has a new partner, the medical examiner taking a closer look at the blackmail note and Geils' fight in the yard while Angie was interviewing the mayor's wife. All of these things didn't really work all that well with what the show was trying to do. They simply happened in order to keep the level of outrageousness raised throughout the episode. Alfred Molina's analyst was amusing when he was making very basic observations about the note and whoever wrote it. But when he has playing that game with the claw trying to get the note, it didn't work so well and played out for far too long. Meanwhile, Geils' physicality was very amusing when it was about pursuing the actual blackmailer. But when it was him just pointlessly fighting with the mayor's wife's friend, it felt like nothing more than getting him away from Angie while she asked questions.

It's also significant that early in the episode Angie is adamant that she doesn't work with a partner and then that becomes immediately irrelevant. That happens on so many of the shows Angie Tribeca is parodying. Angie comes to rely on Geils after one drive to the mayor's office. That's amusing. Plus, they get into a sexual attractive dynamic immediately as well. The playful teasing on whether or not they will kiss is very much familiar to fans of the procedural dramas that are filled with will-they/won't-they couples as the main protagonists. Angie and Geils even make plans to get a beer - until a complication arises to thwart their blossoming relationship. Geils falls down the elevator shaft. That's a hilarious visual. It also makes one want to see the next episode immediately to see how the show handles such an injury.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Pilot" was written by Steve Carell & Nancy Carell and directed by Steve Carell. 
  • It was very amusing to see the Ford logo and website pop up whenever a shot of Angie and Geils' vehicle popped up. But it was a joke that worked throughout the episode because of the show's willingness to draw attention to it.
  • Geils' pursuit of the blackmailer was amusing because of how much time he wasted by doing so many flips. It's what creates tension in the situation while also being able to play out over several minutes. And of course, Angie is the one to actually stop the criminal - thanks to the bag that she pulls out of thin air.
  • Angie is actually very skilled at pulling unexpected things out where you least expect them. The opening sequence shows just how much she is carrying despite her simple outfit. While the pursuit of the criminal shows her great ability of stapling things together.
  • I hope Jere Burns and Deon Cole get more to do in future episodes. I expect they will. They just weren't utilized all that much here.
  • The running story about the medical examiner believing an old woman to be dead even though she very clearly isn't was another very solid joke.
  • That dog is going to be quite the scene stealer. I can already tell.