Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pilot Review: Master of None

Master of None (Netflix)
Premiered November 6

It’s been a trend lately, probably always, to give comedians who have a reputation of being funny their own shows. It’s a good idea in theory, of course, since they are popular enough to be able to retain an audience and theoretically funny enough to structure a show around. Aziz Ansari is just the kind of person to merit his own show, given the fact that he has a successful standup career and has stolen scenes in plenty of films and television, most recently seven seasons as Tom Haverford on “Parks and Recreation.” His show’s title gives the series free reign to take him wherever he wants to go, and it’s clear that Dev is no Tom Haverford. He’s not concerned about his clothing or being perceived as cool, but instead he just wants to do what he wants, which is why he can’t comprehend why someone would settle down with a family or opt for the burdens of things like having to eat a disgusting ketchup sandwich prepared by children instead of a fancy, delicious sandwich brought in from a restaurant. Ansari is appealing here in a lot of ways, and he’s hands down the best part of a show that doesn’t seem to know what it’s about just yet. I’m least impressed with his buddy Arnold, played by Eric Wareheim, since he fits the bill of the obnoxious idiotic best friend that comedies seem to feel the need to cast even though he detracts from the show so much. I’m much more excited by Noel Wells, who appeared in the first scene as Rachel, who went to buy a pill and then got awkwardly taken home by Dev when a scientific concern interrupted their date night. Wells was wonderful in a little movie called “Forev,” and I hope we see her again. I’m not sure what to make of this show, but I’m all for giving it a few more chances once a week as I do with most streaming shows.

How will it work as a series? I’m not sure. There’s no particular direction or aim, though this pilot did cover a lot with Dev getting to experience a full range of emotions with children who at first loved everything he did with them and then wreaked some serious havoc just for the hell of it. Ansari should be fun to watch at the very least, and hopefully the show will improve and become more solid and consistently entertaining.
How long will it last? Ten episodes were commissioned by Netflix and all debuted last Friday. Reviews have been very strong, which is good, and I think that’s probably enough to get Netflix to renew the show. It’s hard to know with the streaming service, which doesn’t always publicize its viewership, but I suspect that this will be in the crop of shows to be renewed eventually and to live a long, healthy, and awkward life.

Pilot grade: B

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