Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Pilot Review: People of Earth

People of Earth (TBS)
Premiered October 31 at 9pm

I didn’t expect anything at all from this show and thought I really wouldn’t like it. I’m not looking to pick up new comedies only because I think dramas tend to be more engaging, but then a show like this that’s genuinely funny comes along. I immediately recognized lead actor Wyatt Cenac from his time on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and more specifically his anchoring of the “Thin Jew Line” skit about the eruv. He’s a great straight man for ridiculous stuff to happen to, and having constant dreams about hitting a deer but not knowing exactly what happened led him to have a mild curiosity in this support group about those who have been abducted by aliens, who apparently are supposed to be called “experiencers” rather than “abductees” since the latter term is demeaning and offensive. The fact that the aliens on this show are not only real but also casual and silly is entertaining, and the concept works. The revelation that Michael Cassidy’s editor is an alien trying to keep Ozzie’s encounter quiet is especially interesting. The use of Ana Gasteyer as the group’s leader and Oscar Nunez as the reluctant priest in the supporting cast is effective, and the best standout player is Brian Huskey, best known as Leon West on “Veep,” as Richard, who is very intense about what he’s been through and how he sees the world. I’m not sure how long I can realistically stick with this show, but this start was great and I’m eager to see more of where it goes.

How will it work as a series? These episodes are short enough and relatively focused - a compliment considering how outlandish the material is - so I imagine that ten episodes shouldn't be hard to fill. The ensemble is pretty big and full of colorful characters - some literally different colors - who should be able to provide plenty of entertainment.
How long will it last? It looks like the show has received pretty solid reviews, and I think this is just the right kind of grounded irreverence that TBS is going for. I can't find too much data on ratings, but I'd bet on this one to do pretty well at this point.

Pilot grade: B+

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