Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pilot Review: Portlandia

Portlandia (IFC)
Premiered January 21 at 10:30pm

I’m not a huge fan of shows based around sketches, and therefore this will be considerably briefer than other pilot reviews I’ve written in the past. When all of the characters started to sing about their glorious city of Portland, I had pleasant flashbacks to “Flight of the Conchords.” Unfortunately, this show comes much closer to imitating the style of “Saturday Night Live,” a series which doesn’t always fire on all cylinders. That similarity could have something to do with the fact that the show comes from the mind of SNL veteran Fred Armisen. Jason Sudeikis is also on hand in the pilot to convey that this is an SNL spinoff of sorts. What’s most disappointing for me is that the show just isn’t that funny. When I spoke to Kyle MacLachlan about his role in “Mao’s Last Dancer” last fall, he said that he would be shooting some scenes as Portland’s mayor, and I’d be eager to see that. At this point, however, this is just an underdeveloped concept that could really use a considerable amount of work. Skits like the couple going to the restaurant and actually driving out to the farm to investigate the origins of their meat are amusing at their start, but by the time the guy is wearing a dress and they’ve been living on a hippie commune for years and end up returning to the restaurant to order something else, it’s become very tired. I don’t think this show is meant to last for a while, and its skit series format should help it easily enjoy a short, relatively carefree life.

Pilot grade: C

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