Wednesday, August 29, 2018

TV REVIEW: Netflix's 'Paradise PD'

Netflix will premiere its new original animated comedy series Paradise PD on Friday, August 31. The comedy stars Sarah Chalke, Dana Snyder, Cedric Yarbrough, David Herman, Tom Kenny, Kyle Kinane and Grey Griffin.

Read on for my thoughts on the new animated comedy after screening its first four episodes.

Netflix's expansion in adult animated comedies continues on Friday, August 31 with the debut of Paradise PD from Brickleberry creators Waco O'Guin and Roger Black. For fans of their former Comedy Central series that ran for three seasons, this new show will be right up your alley. For those who found that show completely ridiculous and repulsive, then you're not going to be a fan of the two writers doing a show with even fewer restrictions. The tone is exactly the same as it was on Brickleberry. It's the genre that has developed in the aftermath of hits like Family Guy and South Park. Those shows are incredibly raunchy and insane while always being able to return to the same status quo episode after episode. Paradise PD operates in the same way even though there is a vague attempt at serialization across the four episodes that Netflix sent out for review. And yet, I have less confidence that there will be a significant uptick in quality during the second half of the season. Critics were pleasantly surprised less than two weeks ago when fellow new animated comedy Disenchantment on Netflix got better during the three final episodes of the season that were withheld from early reviews for some reason. For Paradise PD, I really don't need to see the six remaining episodes to know what this show is and who the target audience is. It's aimed at young men who find a constant flurry of dick, ass and boob jokes to be funny. That's essentially all that there is to Paradise PD. It's about the crazy and ridiculous situations it can put its characters in all while laughing at the idea that they all also happen to be police officers in a redneck, backwoods town called Paradise.

That's the basic premise of the show. Brickleberry was all about a group of park rangers as they tried to do their jobs. Paradise PD is all about the police officers who work out of the Paradise Police Department. They all just happen to be terrible at their jobs. They are all horrendous officers of the law. That's a potent and political image for modern audiences as well. The show could have a lot of nuanced material talking about the ineptitude of officers wearing the badges and trying to protect their town. It could delve into the abuse of powers that corrupt so many individuals on the force and have sparked a national conversation about race relations in this country. And yet, Paradise PD really isn't interested in doing any of that. Sure, it's aware that no one wants to become a police officer anymore. As such, this precinct has to be open to hiring anyone they can get. None of the characters happen to be all that endearing or consistently amusing though. The distinguishing feature about Chief Randall Crawford (Tom Kenny) is that his balls have been shot off and he's constantly yelling at his underlings. At times, I feel for the strain on Kenny's voice because of the performance he is being asked to give here. He is a veteran talent when it comes to voiceover performances. But here, the Chief is the kind of pompous and sexist boss who has been seen a million times. The show just also happens to think it's amusing that he has to wear testosterone patches in order to keep his mustache from falling off.

The other officers on the job include Gina Jabowski (Sarah Chalke) who is constantly sexually harassing her co-workers when she's not taking her anger issues out on the criminals; Gerald Fitzgerald (Cedric Yarbrough), a transplant from Chicago who is recovering from a traumatic incident that has left him afraid to carry a gun; Stanley Hopson (Dana Snyder), a demented and creepy old man always talking inappropriately and graphically about past sexual encounters; Dusty Marlow (also Snyder), a plump officer who is earnestly upbeat at all times; Bullet (Kyle Kinane), a drug sniffing dog who has serious addiction problems; and Kevin Crawford (David Herman), the Chief's son who is eager to prove he's a good cop despite being responsible for his father losing his balls. It's such a colorful ensemble of characters. The show provides ample opportunity for each of them to shine in the individual episodes. The extra running time afforded to streaming shows mostly just allows the show to feature three stories in each episode without one feeling condensed in order to fit in a specific time frame. That's good because it allows everything to happen as the creative team wants it to. But again, none of these characters grow or have any redeeming qualities throughout these episodes. There is no reason to care about Bullet's sobriety and how frequently he breaks it. There is no reason to care about whether the Chief and his ex-wife, the Mayor of Paradise (Grey Griffin), will get back together. It's all about the crazy and insane situations that they get into.

And so, what are some of these situations that define most of the storytelling for Paradise PD? Well, one features a dead body being found on the border of two different cities and the Chief having to solve the crime only using the evidence on his side of the border which mostly results in a bunch of ass jokes. Another features Kevin and Bullet going undercover in a dog-fighting crime circle and Bullet quickly becoming enamored with the fame of his newfound wrestling persona. Another features Dusty lacing his special chicken recipe with drugs and getting the entire town addicted to his product. But the most successful story in the early going is when the show gets outwardly political by staging a ridiculous premise where Gerald is involved in a shooting. It culminates in warring rallies between the Black Lives Matter people and the Blue Lives Matter people. That outcome is very unexpected while also being able to pick apart the cable news culture. And yet, the show really doesn't have many moments of inspiration beyond that point. It's that reason why I'm unlikely to check out any more of Paradise PD. It's not my thing and it quickly grew tiresome. It's just too broad with no real substance underneath it all. That doesn't have to be an inherent criticism. There is an audience out there that doesn't want to think too hard while watching their shows. Paradise PD just never comes together in a way that makes it seem like more than a dick joke delivery machine.