Monday, January 25, 2016

Pilot Review: Baskets

Baskets (FX)
Premiered January 21 at 10pm

I nearly forgot to watch this show, which I had only known about in the first place because of the advertisements all over the place with Zach Galifianakis’ melancholy blue face looking up hopefully at the sky. I’m a fan of Zach’s, and I highly enjoyed him in his last TV role on “Bored to Death.” This show I’m not quite as optimistic about, and there are a few reasons for that. It falls into the FX category of comedy that has been most defined by “Louie,” which features depressing plotlines on a regular basis that sometimes are made to be funny and sometimes left as serious and hopeless. This first installment doesn’t inspire much potential for the aptly-named Chip Baskets, who failed out of French clowning college for the very simple reason that he didn’t speak French and couldn’t understand a single thing, and now lives back in California in a motel while his wife, who married him just for a green card and the chance to find someone more attractive, lives in an actual apartment building and calls to demand forty dollars for HBO. When he’s not being pummeled by bulls at his day job, Chip finds himself humiliated in nearly every situation, save for his interactions with poor Martha, an insurance agent who, despite being a terrible driver, offers to drive Chip around and do whatever he wants despite his not being at all interested in her as a person. This show is slow and deliberately uncomfortable, and I’m just not sure that’s what I’m looking for in a new comedy. The casting of Louie Anderson as Chip’s mother is strange, and I think I much prefer Zach playing his twin brother, Dale Baskets, who is a dean, student, and the janitor at his own college. I don’t think I’ll check back in for another installment of this show, and I’ll return to it only if it receives some serious critical or awards acclaim down the road.

How will it work as a series? Despite his offer to his unappreciative wife, it seems that Chip is only interested in being a clown, and with Martha as the sole affirming person in his life and someone who is not trying to motivate him to do anything else with his life, he shouldn’t go far. It will surely be awkward and uncomfortable, and there will be a few laughs and smiles along the way, but I doubt enough to make this show worth it.
How long will it last? The ratings report I read said it did better than “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll,” which FX renewed, and “The Comedians,” which it cancelled. I think Zach is a comedic investment that the network wants to make, and relatively strong reviews for the show should point them in favor of wanting to keep him around as one of their flagship subversive efforts.

Pilot grade: C+

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