Monday, July 25, 2016

Pilot Review: Vice Principals

Vice Principals (HBO)
Premiered July 17 at 10:30pm

I was eager to see this show as soon as I heard of its existence, and it’s pretty much exactly what I expected. This is very similar to “Eastbound and Down” in a lot of ways, mainly because it comes from the same creative team and stars Danny McBride as an antisocial educator concerned with no one other than himself. The difference here is that McBride’s vice principal Neal Gamby has a daughter and a kindhearted cheerleader in his ex-wife’s new husband Ray. He also has traded his dimwitted sidekick for a formidable rival in Walton Goggins’ Lee Russell, the complete opposite of him in terms of vice principal posturing, sweet-talking everyone and letting his nice guy nature serve him just as well as Gamby’s iron fist does. Whoever thought of pairing McBride and Goggins was brilliant, and it’s great to see Goggins succeeding marvelously in this straight comedic role after stealing scenes on “Justified” and Sons of Anarchy” and in “The Hateful Eight” where his Southern drawl helped him add comedy to dramatic characters and situations. I’m also very pleased to see Shea Whigham from “Boardwalk Empire” in a very different role as Ray, and I’m sure that having Busy Phillips in the cast as his wife Gale will prove very worthwhile too. The foul-mouthed, infantile nature of the two protagonists on this show is a lot of fun, and it’s good to see that other characters, like new principal Dr. Brown, aren’t immune to such pettiness and crude language either. This show is sure to be a lot of fun, and I’m excited.

How will it work as a series? Comparing it to McBride’s previous HBO comedy is probably the most accurate representation of what this show will be like, with a recurring storyline and plenty of antics to get in the way as both Gamby and Russell manage to let their egos guide them towards a place of revenge rather than actually educating those with whom they’re charged to work.
How long will it last? HBO endorsed “Eastbound and Down” for four seasons, and something tells me that this show will go on however long its creators want it to. A renewal is likely soon, and I’d expect that this show should also last for about four seasons, though it’s obviously too early to say for sure.

Pilot grade: B+

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