Monday, April 13, 2015

Pilot Review: The Comedians

The Comedians (FX)
Premiered April 9 at 10pm

The notion of pairing two extremely different comedians of different generations and styles is an entertaining one, but also comes with the understanding that they will clash considerably. Billy Crystal was among the funniest personalities of the 1980s and 1990s, and Josh Gad has made a name for himself in a less endearing leading man way. Bringing the two together seems like it should be a recipe for comedic gold, but this pilot episode isn’t entirely promising. Like so many other shows which have characters playing themselves, they’re forced to exaggerate their personalities, and Billy becomes nothing more than an old grump and Josh is a sheepish child constantly complaining about being ignored. It does a disservice to both funnymen to cast them in these broad lights, and it seems like that will be the defining nature of the show. Mockumentaries aren’t for everyone (my wife, mother-in-law, and father-in-law were decidedly not amused with the show’s style), and I think this pilot falls more on the angry humor side of things than anything else. Its intersection with real life, like having Larry Charles, director of “Borat,” guest star as himself and having Billy and Josh play fictionalized versions of themselves, could be productive for the future, and I think this show just might need a bit of time to develop. It reminds me a lot of “Doll and Em,” another uncomfortable show that took some time to get used to and may never have been fully fantastic. I’m willing to give this show another try.

How will it work as a series? This show needs to transcend its premise and allow its characters to be dynamic. Billy needs to get nicer and Josh needs to grow up, and this show should expand to more of their lives than just their negative interactions. Less marching together as sailors and more layered, possibly even dramatic plotlines will help.
How long will it last? Not long. I think this will be a one-season experiment, given the fact that viewership was very low, compared even to FX’s moderately rated comedies, and reviews weren’t too great either, which means that few people will be advocating for its continued existence beyond the first season.

Pilot grade: C+

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