A few weeks ago, I sang the praises of Comedy Central's “Review,” starring Andy Daly as an amiable but sheltered WASP who has different life experiences at the request of his viewers. In particular, I singled out tonight's episode as an early frontrunner for funniest half-hour of 2014, and thus wanted to do a second post for people who had now seen it. A few thoughts coming up just as soon as this post could be my penicillin…
On the one hand, the title of “Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes” gives away some of the better jokes of the episode. On the other, Daly's initial reaction to each assignment is so perfect and funny that the lack of surprise ultimately didn't matter. We go from his understandable disgust and dismay at having to eat what he describes as “an upsetting number of pancakes” (complete with encouragement from both the waitress and his producer, played with the expected cruel deadpan brilliance of James Urbaniak) to the way his eagerness at getting a more substantial assignment is immediately crushed when he realizes he has to divorce his wife(*), to the existential despair and confusion at realizing he will now have to eat even more pancakes than the first time, and that he has multiple viewers who want to see him do it.
(*) It's the “Oh, dear” from his chipper sidekick A.J. that really drives home the pain of that one, just as the waitress gently rubbing Forrest's back as he holds the water glass to his forehead sells us on the physical ordeal of eating all those pancakes.
I don't know if the Australian show that Daly and company are adapting also ended its hero's marriage this early, but it's a brilliant move, giving strange emotional weight to all these stunts, and also playing off of what happened in the previous episodes, so that you can understand why Forrest's wife might be eager to move on from her erratic husband once the initial shock wears off. It's Forrest's own fault for committing so intensely to the concept of his show – Urbaniak's reminder that Forrest begged to never be let off the hook reminded me of how Inspector Clouseau could never get Cato to stop attacking him – and yet it's hard not to feel some sympathy from the poor bastard as he has to end his marriage and then consumed 30 additional pancakes in one sitting.
I've only seen one episode past this one, and it continues the sad arc of Forrest's life as an unhappily divorced man. It's wonderful and weird in its own right, and at the rate the show is going, I expect Forrest to either be in jail or dead by the end of the season. Either way, I can't wait to see more.
What did everybody else think?