Thursday, February 1, 2018

Pilot Review: Corporate

Corporate (Comedy Central)
Premiered January 17 at 10pm

What the TV landscape definitely needs most right now is another workplace comedy. As I’ve written about on many occasions, sitcoms have evolved to a point where laugh tracks are a thing of the past, and the drier the humor, the funnier they can often be. That’s not always the case, of course, and this purposefully over-the-top deadpan series is a perfect example. Starting out by showing that its middle management encourage confrontational criticism, emphasizing that another supervisor should have been copied rather than blindcopied even though everyone who needed to got the e-mail, demonstrated the specificity with which this show wants to approach its parody of worker drone life, which then got expanded quite a bit with PowerPoints that had the ability to inspire multiple wars and never ordering enough bagels despite knowing how many employees the company had, prompting some worker bees to dream about wiping cream cheese off the wall just to get a taste. There were some visual jokes, like Philip Baker Hall’s two rival lackeys looking exactly the same as Anne Dudek and Adam Lustick, and having Lance Reddick as the CEO is meant to inspire much of the show’s humor. I haven’t worked in an office as monotonous and corporate as this one, but I know enough to realize that this show is far from sophisticated, and its attempts to be smartly dumb don’t work at all. It reminds me most of a buttoned-up version of the short-lived NBC effort “A to Z,” and that’s nothing close to a compliment.

How will it work as a series? These first two episodes introduced our heroes, Matt and Jake, who do what they can not to be too bored and to try to contribute in a minimal way to the success of the company or at least to not getting fired. I’d expect them to be nearly canned pretty much every episode, and I imagine the repetitiveness should drag just as much as everything else about this show already does.
How long will it last? The premiere airing earned the somewhat specific distinction of highest-rated basic-cable primetime comedy debut of the season, but that’s not all that much to go off of. More importantly, the reviews from critics seem to be much more favorable than I could expect or understand, and so maybe this is exactly the kind of show that Comedy Central wants to have represented in its lineup.

Pilot grade: D-