Premiered April 22 at 10pm
It’s no surprise that HBO’s newest series feels a whole lot like the biting 2009 political satire “In the Loop.” I had no idea that Armando Iannucci, the writer and director of the aforementioned film, was also the creator of this show, but it made perfect sense when the credits rolled. The show may not feature Peter Capaldi’s foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker, but it does star Anna Chlumsky, originally known for “My Girl,” in a similar role as the one she played in the film, and an equally entertaining cast of characters. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is terrific as the sarcastic, impatient Vice President, but, like many shows of this nature, it’s her staff that really makes the show work. Chlumsky is fantastic, echoing Selina’s sentiments with the same measure of meanness and lack of concern for the feelings of others. Tony Hale is highly amusing as the eternally-mocked and tormented lapdog, but he’s not even the most reviled, as the President’s errand boy Jonah, who gets continually lambasted for his stupidity whenever he visits. He didn’t exactly help himself by being amazingly creepy when he prepared to take Amy out for a date. Matt Walsh is also great in his role as Selina’s communications director, and it’s fun to see Reid Scott, who last appeared as Cathy’s nice guy doctor on “The Big C,” take on the role of shark Dan Egan, who’s sure to make Amy’s life a living hell in episodes to come after throwing his old boss under the bus to get himself a new job. This pilot shows a serious funny bone, utilizing the instances of Selina being politically incorrect about corn starch utensils and the incorrect signing of the card to create comedy gold. Mike guessing random bad things that might happen to distract the public is a sign of the show’s dark side, and I’m extremely excited to see more of this new series.
How will it work as a series? “In the Loop” was based on a successful TV series, so there’s no reason that this show couldn’t work just as well. Centering itself on an unusually spotlighted office provides an opportunity for infinite hilarious plotlines with rich characters to have their stupidity highlighted in the most intelligent of ways. This show’s going to be a hit.
How long will it last? The ratings were good for the pilot, but that’s largely irrelevant. This is the kind of comedy that HBO wants to be appearing, and Louis-Dreyfus, who carried the extremely unfunny “The New Adventures of Old Christine” on CBS for five years, is going to have another comeback with this show, something that the network will surely want to endorse with a renewal sometime soon.
Pilot grade: B+