Why Angie Tribeca Doesn’t Work in 2016

In an attempt to beat the competition with their own weapons, TBS has released the complete first season of Angie Tribeca on January 17. You can binge it until you’re blue in the face, or watch the first 10 episodes whenever you feel like it. Do it quickly, though, because on January 25, the second season begins, in 30 minute portions a week.

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The Funniest Couple in Showbiz
Angie Tribeca was created by the funniest couple in showbiz – Steve (The Office, The Big Short, Foxcatcher, The Way Way Back) and Nancy Carrell (The Office, The Goode Family, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) – and stars familiar sitcom faces: Rashida Jones (Boston Public, The Office, Parks and Recreation) as the titular character, Hayes MacArthur (Perfect Couples, Go On) as her new partner, Jere Burns (Justified, The Muppets, Burn Notice, Breaking Bad) as her boss, Deon Cole (Conan, Black-ish) as her colleague and in the pilot we also see Nancy Carrell, Lisa Kudrow (Friends, Web Therapy, The Comeback) and Alfred Molina (Matador, Show Me a Hero, Monday Mornings and Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark; yes, he’s been around a long time).

Airplane!
It’s clear where the Carrells got their inspiration from: the entire body of work of Leslie Nielsen. If you find Angie Tribeca hilarious and Nielsen doesn’t ring a bell, there’s a whole world of corny comedy out there for you to explore. Start by watching the 1980 movie Airplane! and its sequel. Binge the TV series Police Squad! and the Naked Gun trilogy, as well as Charlie Sheen’s Hot Shots! and Hot Shots! Part Deux. The story is of no importance whatsoever and there’s not a single scene that makes sense, just like Tribeca. There’s one major difference, though, between the Nielsen/Sheen catalogue and the Carrell Show.

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First of all, it’s not exactly new anymore. We’ve seen all of the goofiness been done before – and better. Sure, there might be a new audience out there, too. People who never had to sit through one or more Police Academy movies on birthday parties. People who might have seen bits of pieces of Hot Shots!, but didn’t quite know what it was commenting on, because they never saw the movies that were being parodied. And that’s precisely the problem with Angie Tribeca; it’s not really commenting on anything, other than the same old (eighties and nineties) things.

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Dropping Like Flies
Police Squad! was a result of rebelling against all those overly serious cop shows at the time, but there aren’t a lot of them left in 2016. The CSIs are dropping like flies, there’s only one Law & Order spinoff left, Battle Creek didn’t make it past its first season and the popularity of Blue Bloods, for example, can be disputed. Why then create a show around a female detective? It feels very out-dated. Charlie Sheen went up against Rambo and other hugely successful action franchises, but the only one left standing is Sylvester Stallone himself and from the looks of it, has all but officially pronounced John Rambo deceased and has recently retired the character of Rocky Balboa in the movie Creed.

Playing in the Sandbox
The Carrells could have used their comedic chops for something a little more 21st century. There’s enough pop culture to rally against in hilarious ways. Superheroes (Heroes Reborn, The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), political and historical dramas (House of Cards, Downton Abbey, Wolf Hall, basically everything out of Denmark), dystopian futures for teenagers (The Hunger Games, Divergent, Shadowhunters), extremely long wide angle shots (Alejandro G. Iñárritu), transgenders (Transparant, I Am Cait) and so on. South Park, for instance, totally got its eye on the ball, while Angie Tribeca is playing in the sandbox, ignoring everything going on around it and rehashing old slapstick material. Is it funny? At times. Is it a reflection of the times we live in? Not at all. Should it be? I guess not, but whenever I get a strong feeling of ‘been there, done that’, I’m checking out.

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