Friday, August 11, 2017

Pilot Review: Comrade Detective

Comrade Detective (Amazon)
Premiered August 4

I’m not sure I can think of a show more random than this one. I almost didn’t watch it because I thought it was either a documentary series or a serious import of a Romanian show. My experience with cinema from that country is that it can be very slow-moving, which can either be good – “Police, Adjective” – or bad – “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days.” This show is something altogether different, meant to parody two prominent phenomena from the 1980s, one being Romanian propaganda television and the other being buddy cop shows. I can’t say I have all that much familiarity with either, and therefore found this to be more odd than anything else. Looking at the American voice cast, it’s hard to top the combination of Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nick Offerman, Chloe Sevigny, Jenny Slate, and Jason Mantzoukas, but of course we don’t get to see any of them. I get that the idea is supposed to be that it’s absurd, and having the American actors dub the Romanian cast adds to that effect. I’m just not sure how to take it, and it’s not nearly dramatic or funny enough to be worthwhile in either genre. The same goes for Tatum and Jon Ronson introducing the episode and noting how incredible it is that they dug it out of the archives. I think this may speak to some people, especially those with a particular interest in propaganda television or some passing knowledge of it, but personally I just don’t get it.

How will it work as a series? You can’t accuse this show of not having a plot, even if it’s not a particularly good or compelling one. Some of the things that happen are ridiculous, but I think there’s going to be more of a focus on a dramatic narrative that’s awfully exaggerated and pro-communism rather than explicit humor in the story.
How long will it last? Reviews seem to be pretty good from what I can tell, and Amazon doesn’t usually offer data on ratings or viewership. Six episodes premiered last week, and I suspect that this show is just way too niche to merit any more than that, unless it really catches on.

Pilot grade: C+