Join Or Die – or – The Poor Man’s QI

After his comedy pilot The King of 7B didn’t get picked up to series, Craig Ferguson returned to his old love. Hosting a late night talkshow. Albeit in a different form, on an unusual channel: The History Channel. It’s called Join or Die and apart from an audience and a comfortable set, it needs minutes.

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Delightful Cocktail
In December 2014, Craig Ferguson quit his Late Late Show, leaving a big hole in the late night/early morning schedule. As entertaining as his shoe filler James Corden is, Ferguson’s delightful cocktail of philosophy, absurdism and conversations instead of prefab interviews, was a breath of fresh air and a true successor has yet to emerge. When gay robot skeleton Geoffrey Peterson (Josh Robert Thompson) came on the scene, things got even more out of control, which only made the show better.

Quiz Talk
Because Ferguson got his big break on The Drew Carey Show, it wasn’t such a strange move to go back to sitcom land. For some reason, ABC didn’t think the pilot of The King of 7B was funny enough and decided to abandon the project. The History Channel jumped in and contracted Ferguson for a 22 episode season order of Join or Die. An historical, half hour talkshow slash quiz show.

Bleak Gimmick
The quiz show part of the equation might’ve looked like a good idea. The BBC has been pairing science and history with a panel and a bunch of interesting questions for years in Stephen Fry’s marvellous QI. Compared to that show, Join or Die is a rather bleak gimmick. The first episode features ‘History’s Biggest Political Blunder’. Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel, Jen D’Angelo and Howard Bragman discuss which of the 6 nominees should take home the prize; Rod Blagojevich, Herman ‘pizza delivery man’ Cain, Eliot Spitzer, Larry Craig, Christine ‘not a witch’ O’Donnell or Dick ‘trigger happy’ Cheney. In the second episode, Chris Hardwick, Jordan Carlos and Bob Pflugfelder shed their lights on ‘History’s Worst Medical Advice’.

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Canned
Ferguson’s a terrific host, and even has a monologue at the beginning of the show à la late night, but the laugh track is obvious and annoying. In some of the shots, we see a couple of heads in front of the camera, to create the illusion of a studio audience, but I’m positive there’s nobody in the studio other than a few interns. It’s 2016, people. Why do the History Channel executives still think we’re happy listening to canned laughter? Whoever becomes President of the United States coming November, I hope (s)he will pass a bill that prohibits laugh tracks. Seriously. I know there are many who believe Friends (10 seasons) wouldn’t have been the phenomenon that it was, if they had left out all the knee slapping, but come on. The Office (9 seasons) did alright without it.

20 Minute Segment
Anyway. Join or Die is a nice get-together of people who try to decide what is the best or worst particular thing in history. But that’s all it is. I’d hoped for a more intellectual approach, to be honest. Less guests, more depth. Now it’s basically just a late night talkshow segment, stretched out to 20 minutes. Maybe, if they’d gone for an hour an episode, there’d be more time to philosophize, reflect and get more personal, too.

Green As Can Be
One more thing: the set is a bit awkward. It’s like a living room, but a living room stripped of any form of personality. Besides, the 6 options are projected behind the guests, so they have to look over to the side, to a different screen. Ferguson even has to turn around to see it. This just looks silly. In short, The History Channel is obviously as green as can be when it comes to a late night-like show. Still, Ferguson’s a great host and there are a lot of laughs, but he deserves a better format and environment.

Back To The Final Destination Of The Groundhog

Hulu, Stephen King and Bad Robot have joined forces, to bring King’s novel ‘11.22.63’ to life. It’s a time travel tale about a guy named Jake Epping, who’s got nothing much going for him in the present. Ergo: the perfect candidate to go back to 1960 and stay there.

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Brutal Murder
The pilot episode, called ‘The Rabbit Hole’, starts with a brutal murder. Why? Because it’s Stephen King, that’s why. We see brief images of the short story Harry Dunning (Leon Rippy, Under the Dome, Alcatraz, Deadwood) wrote, in Jake Epping’s (James Franco) class. It appears to be autobiographical. His father killed everybody in the house, but Harry. This must’ve happened somewhere in the 1960s. Storywise, no coincidence.

Time Portal
Diner owner Al Templeton (Chris Cooper, The Bourne Identity, American Beauty, Adaptation) has got some kind of time portal in the back. Take a few steps in the dark, and you literately fall into good old 1960. It’s just as easy to come back to 2016. There are, however, rules. Apparently, no one from 1960 is able to use the portal to travel to the future. Al can change anything he wants, but once he returns to his own time, everything he did gets erased. To have a lasting effect, he’d need to stay there.

Make Things Right
That lasting effect is what Al’s been trying to achieve. Prevent the Kennedy assassination. Prevent Lee Harvey Oswald from doing what he (allegedly) did. If he can stop whoever fired the gun, JFK would live and the Vietnam War would possibly end much sooner. There’s a chance here to make things right. Unfortunately, Al has come up short. Has been living three years in the past, until November 11, 1963, but couldn’t crack the case. It’s time to recruit somebody else. Preferably a guy who just got divorced: regular customer Jake.

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Danger Danger
You’d think: why just Jake? Why not more people? Would that work? I’d want to know. Why not Jake and Al together? Well, King has thought of everything, because Al’s got cancer and the night before Jake leaves, the diner owner dies. Jake’s on his own. Apart from figuring out who will kill Kennedy – and it looks like there’s a big conspiracy behind it -, danger follows him around wherever he goes: Time itself. One of the other rules is: Time doesn’t like to be messed with, the same way Death didn’t in the Final Destination movies. It’s not just people who come up to Jake, saying he doesn’t ‘belong here’, it’s also cars, fire and chandeliers that are out to get him.

Bloated
It’s one of those typical stuffed King concepts. A lot of different elements brought together, all having a set of rules attached to it. 11.22.63 feels a bit bloated because of that, but it does work. Probably due to the fact that ‘The Rabbit Hole’ has the length of a feature film (as well as an unusually wide for television frame size). It takes its time. The pace is nice. The sixties look great. Cooper’s great. Even Franco’s a likeable guy. He just shouldn’t smile. His smile makes him extremely creepy.

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The First Level
11.22.63 is Back to the Future, Final Destination, Edge of Tomorrow and Groundhog Day rolled into one. Jake’s the time traveling fish out of water, but he always has a way out/back. All he needs to do is go to the place where the (invisible) portal is, and he’s back in 2016. However long he’s been away doesn’t matter. If he returns, only 2 minutes will have passed. Thank you for playing. Game over. Start at the beginning again. I think that’s what the series is going to do. Play the first level a number of times, Groundhog style, until Jake’s met so many people – and fallen in love with a girl – that he doesn’t want to leave. But does he have a chance to live happily ever after, with Time constantly trying to take him out? And what happens if it succeeds? Al failed to mention that little clause in the contract. Anyway, so far so good.

Harlan Hobbits vs Big Coal

WGN just cancelled Manhattan after 2 seasons, but is far from pulling out of the serious drama game. Outsiders, their homemade brew of Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Mad Max and The Shire, however, is not going to win them any awards. The pilot episode ‘Farrell Wine’ is mildly entertaining and even a bit pretentious.

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Big & Little
No quality drama series without a big name at the heart of it. House of Cards got Kevin Spacey, The Man in the High Castle Rufus Sewell, Bosch Titus Welliver, Hand of God Ron Perlman, True Detective Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, Fargo Kirstin Dunst and Ted Danson, Game of Thrones Sean Bean, American Crime Story John Travolta. To name only a few, of course. Outsiders got David Morse (Treme, House MD, The Green Mile) and fan favorite Ryan Hurst (Opie on Sons of Anarchy). Their characters, Big Foster and Little Foster, are part of the Farrells. Mountain folk. Cut off from the rest of the world, brewing their own moonshine, marrying their own cousins. And believing in ‘the prophecy’.

The Rule
The only contact they have with the outside world, is when they do so-called ‘runs’. Either by car (they do have a car) or by quad (yes, they have those, too), they drive into the nearest town, grab what they need and off they go again. People just let it happen. It doesn’t happen too often, besides, these Hobbits from Hell are dangerous. Even the local police are scared of them. Officer Wade Houghton (Thomas M. Wright, The Bridge) has a yet undisclosed history with the Farrells, and even covers up whatever crimes he can, just to avoid going up the mountain to ask them some questions. The rule is: they don’t come down, we don’t come up. Seems to me that the first part is not quite respected as well as the last part.

Relocation
Believe it or not, this has been going on for years and everybody’s okay with it. But times have changed and Big Coal has laid its eyes on the mountain. There’s money to be made, jobs to be created, so the Farrell Clan has to go. ‘Relocate’. Step 1 is bringing them an eviction notice, stapled on a tree; it’s easier to arrange a sitdown with Hillary Clinton than to talk face to face with these dirty, smelly tree huggers. They’re not likeable people. You’d assume the show would take their side, but about everything we see them do, is despicable. David Morse definitely doesn’t play the hero in this story. Big Foster’s a man who can’t wait to be in control. Lead. It’s only a matter of time before Lady Ray Farrell (Phyllis Somerville, The Big C) steps down from her wooden throne and he can do what he wants, basically.

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Predictable
Unfortunately for him, Lady Ray sees signs of the Prophecy coming true. It’s not time for her to hand over the crown just yet. In a somewhat predictable turn of events, Big Foster kills her. By hand. Like, holding his hand over her nose and mouth, which apparently does the trick. Because of the eviction notice, they’re going to need to defend themselves. In other words: they need guns. They know a guy who knows a guy who told them about somebody with a large gun collection. Big Foster makes another ‘run’ downhill, with his buddies and his young boy, who – another predictable plot twist – hides in the back of their pickup truck. Things go wrong. The neighbors come out with guns blazing. They escape, but Big’s son is shot dead.

The Hero
This seems like a bunch of unsympathetic neanderthals are causing trouble in a small town, and yes, that is in a nutshell what the series Outsiders is. In order to root for the mountain folk in spite of everything, a hero character’s put into place: Asa (Joe Anderson, Hannibal, The River). A Farrell Clan deserter, if you will, who got a taste of the outside world, but came back. Big Foster has already tried to shoot him, so we know this is the guy we should be identifying with. It’s all a bit too much on the nose, and the premise isn’t quite exciting, so I’m afraid WGN has to go look for a new quality drama script (and big movie star) to invest in.

The White Bronco Case Fictionalized

Everybody still remembers American football player and The Naked Gun actor O.J. Simpson, and that white Bronco car being chased by the police on the highway. FX has made a limited series about it, called American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson. Why v and not vs? No one knows.

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Trial of the Century
In a time when police brutality occurred on a regular basis – nothing much has changed, it seems – the Trial of the Century became much more than just a trial, back in 1994. A spectacle. A circus, and more about race, manufactured evidence, conspiracy theories and the role of the media rather than about O.J. It would seem the perfect material for a television show, and FX has turned it into a high profile drama, if not by the casting alone.

Gooding, Schwimmer & Travolta
Cuba Gooding Jr (The Book of Negroes, Jerry Maguire, As Good As It Gets) plays O.J. An uneasy, anxious, suicidal and conflicted O.J. His best friend, Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer, Madagascar, Friends) is looking out for him, but O.J. goes from bad to all over the place, after the police discover the bodies of his ex-wife and her boyfriend. To make matters worse, his lawyer Howard Weitzman (Ken Lerner, Happy Days, Chicago Hope) is gone, all of a sudden. They turn to Robert Shapiro (John Travolta, Pulp Fiction, Swordfish, Primary Colors, Grease), who seems to know exactly what he’s doing, keeping all options open. He asks O.J. twice, if he did it. Some shows about lawyers, say Suits, claim they should never ask a client if he’s innocent. It’s irrelevant. Besides, it could cause someone to drop the case because of strong feelings; lawyers are capable of receiving these little things we call emotions.

On the Cover
Did I just say Kardashian? O, yes. We have O.J. to thank for planting the seed of the biggest topic in gossip column history. And American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson knows it. Khloe (Morgan Bastin) and Kourtney (Isabella Balbi) even briefly pop up in a scene. While O.J.’s getting more paranoid by the hour, detective Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story, Deadwood, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) is putting all the evidence together. On her own, at first. She can handle it; the case is a no-brainer. O.J. did it. She’s quickly paired up with Bill Hodgman (Christian Clemenson, Turn, Legends, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr and Jerry Espenson on Boston Legal) to help her, because since a celebrity’s involved, this will be on every cover of every magazine.

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Dream Cast
If you thought that was it, you’d be mistaken. FX has put together a cast most productions can only dream of. Nowhere Man himself Bruce Greenwood (Mad Men, John From Cincinnati) is Marcia’s boss. Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me, The Good Wife, Bloodline) a colleague, just like Chris Bauer (True Blood, High Fidelity and Frank Sobotka on The Wire). There’s Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, FlashForward, State of Affairs) as Johnnie Cochran. Selma Blair (Hellboy, Anger Management) as Kris Jenner. Jordana Brewster (The Fast and the Furious, Chuck, Dallas), Connie Britton (Nashville, American Horror Story, 24, Friday Night Lights). Michael McGrady (Southland, 24, Day Break, Ray Donovan). And even Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show, Jeremiah, Sons of Anarchy).

Reconstruction
I started by saying this would seem like the perfect drama material, but it isn’t. There’s not going to be a payoff. There are not going to be new revelations. The first episode, ‘From the Ashes of Tragedy’, follows the well known events closely, which makes The People v O.J. Simpson above all else a reconstruction. A star-packed, big budgeted reconstruction, but a reconstruction nonetheless. It’s well written, well acted, but if this were fiction, you would keep watching to see whether or not O.J. did it. That climax is going to be absent. In other words, the series is building towards something that will never come. The People v O.J. Simpson can only result in ‘stellar performances’ and ‘critically acclaimed’, but still a disappointment.

Predictable Or Implausible, That’s The Question

Having watched the first 5 episodes – i.e. half a season – of Amazon’s Mad Dogs, it’s time to take a breather and see what we have here. Where did the pilot, ‘Xtabai’, ‘Well’, ‘Flares’ and ‘Hat’ take us, where are they presumably headed, and most important of all: do we care enough to find out?

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Sweet Time
The pilot, released a year ago, took its sweet time, but it didn’t really bother me. All I knew was Mad Dogs was Shawn Ryan’s (The Shield, The Chicago Code, Last Resort) newest project, and that was enough for me. I went in blind. So, unaware of what this potential series was all about, I climbed into the rollercoaster and just let it surprise me. Not a whole lot happened at first, and the longer nothing did, the more the suspense started building up. This wasn’t just going to be a nice holiday in Belize, with old friends catching up. Something had to go wrong, but how? And when? And then it did. As horrible as it was unpredictable. Please keep reading if you want to spoil it for yourself.

Arrogant And Obnoxious
Four old friends, with a lot of emotional baggage and unfinished business, travel to Belize (or the Puerto Rican version of it, anyway) to meet up with their long lost friend Milo who’s made it. He’s retired and spends his days in this luxurious villa, looking over the ocean, all by himself. Joel (Ben Chaplin, The Book of Negroes, and the Milo character in the British version of Mad Dogs), Gus (Romany Malco, Weeds, Blunt Talk, No Ordinary Family), Lex (Michael Imperioli, The Sopranos, Detroit 1-8-7, Californication) and Cobi (Steve Zahn, Out of Sight, Treme) are all arrogant and obnoxious, but their old buddy Milo (Billy Zane, Head Above Water, Titanic) is the biggest (but richest) asshole of them all. You’re basically watching five guys bitch and moan about the past, their lives, wives and the lives and wives of the others. Suddenly, there’s a dead goat floating around in the pool; a sign that Milo’s perhaps not as squeaky clean as he may appear.

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The Cat
Milo knows who did it and why, so as an act of revenge, he steals and hides their yacht in a bay somewhere. He’s not a very talkative man, and the others want to know what’s going on. Milo promises to explain everything over dinner, but man, does he have a short fuse. Every interruption is too much. At the point when he finally appears to want to make an effort, a cat walks in. That is, a little man wearing a cat mask, asking where the boat is. Milo ‘knows nothing’, which makes the cat pull out his gun and without further ado shoots Milo in the head. From holiday to nightmare in a few seconds. The other guys are given an ultimatum by Mr. Cat to bring back the boat, but they decide to split immediately. Until Cobi realizes he’s left his videocamera on the boat. He’s been filming everybody, they’ve been calling each other by name, so leaving it behind would be a big mistake.

Overdrive
There were concerns about where the story could go from here, and they were valid. Mad Dogs has taken implausibility to a whole new level. At first, the actions the characters take, are understandable. Until they’re getting more ridiculous by the minute. Master of dominoes falling Shawn Ryan has a knack for constructing intertwining storylines, webs of lies, corruption, coincidence and consequence, but here, he’s gone into overdrive, testing the limits of what an audience can take. It’s just one crazy turn after another – and I mean reality defying crazy. Mad Dogs is like a horror movie inside a gruesome video game inside a dream sequence, disguised as high concept drama.

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High School Play
In episode 3, ‘Well’, it turns into a bad high school play, when the four guys manage to catch the Cat. The little (hit)man is going completely berserk, in an overacting kind of way, kicking and screaming while they tie him to a chair. Cobi somehow convinces the others to lower Mr. Cat down into the well of the villa, by shouting ‘Well! Well! Well!’ like a 4 year old. Not even cartoons write stuff like that anymore. Spongebob Squarepants would be embarrassed. Anyway, after a lot of walking to and from the boat for different reasons, they go to the American embassy and meet the lovely Rochelle (Fargo’s very own Allison Tolman). She’s going to help them get out of the country. Get into the car, boys. Of course, quickly they have to stop because some kids block the road with a refrigerator. You know what, the guys think, we want to get out of here as fast as humanly possible, but let’s first give these kids a lift to where they want to go. I’m not making this up.

Worst Case Scenario
At the end of the fifth episode, Rochelle is lost. She went to pee, but still hasn’t returned. The guys go looking for her, figure she fell off a cliff, and hitchhike to the harbour. They board a fishing boat that takes them far, far away from Belize. That is until they enter an ‘infectious zone’. Mad Dogs is the scripted version of Wipeout; one idiotic obstacle after another. This show is the worst case scenario of a worst case scenario, if that makes any sense. It has got nothing to do with any form of reality or plausibility anymore; the price of trying to avoid predictability, I guess. In that respect, it feels like the movie The Game, just without the big relief of the end of the game at the end.

Lucy Winterbottom Humperdinck Frankenstruddle

What do you do when Hell bores you? You take a vacation. Lucifer is another, but not so typical superhero series, about Lucifer Winterbottom – I mean Morningstar, who spends his days drinking, screwing and driving too fast in Los Angeles. He’s rather smug, but that’s just a side effect of his immortality. It’s not quite clear what his powers are exactly. He has a way of making people tell their deepest desires to him; that seems to be his (god given) gift, but handcuffs don’t bother him neither. Basically, he’s capable of doing just about anything except mind reading; that’s the business of Jedi.

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Substance
Ranked #2 in our ‘Top 10 Most Promising Fall 2015 Series’, I had great expectations for Lucifer, starring Tom Ellis (Rush, Miranda, Merlin). Cool, funny and fast. To be fair, that’s exactly what we get. The thing is, there’s not much else underneath. Like many comic book adaptations, whether in movies or on television, any kind of substance is a rarity. One of the exceptions is X-Men, which is a story about racism and discrimination. A group of people being shut out and hunted down, because of the way they were born. The movies are still very much about action and shapeshifting, but the themes in there connect the subject matter to the real world. Any minority’s able to identify with the struggle of the ‘mutants’, while the majority – let’s say the caucasian white male – wants nothing more than to be part of a minority.

Smug
These kind of themes are big ones, and not every show should have one of those. However, if you don’t have any at all, superhero superficiality lies in wait. And that’s a little the case with Lucifer. On first viewing, this is a show about a dark angel, wreaking havoc on Earth and doing it in style. Slick suit, smug talk, living out everybody’s wildest dreams. Ellis is very enjoyable as the titular character, much more than his portrayal of the smug talking doctor in the short-lived USA series Rush. But who is this guy, really? It’s fun to watch him walk through glass doors, get shot multiple times and live, do his eye trick and make everybody say what they don’t want to say, but there’s not a whole lot of character there. It’s a facade. A cool, look-at-me kind of facade, but still.

The Odd One Out
He fled from Hell, looks for exciting things to do and a murder investigation falls into his lap. He partners up with a cop who appears to be immune to his charms, Chloe Dancer (Lauren German, Happy Town, Chicago Fire, Hawaii Five-O). It’s one of those routines where two partners are each other’s complete opposites. The case brings them to psychologist Linda (the very funny Rachael Harris, Suits, Surviving Jack). Because Lucy Wigglesworth has got some daddy issues (and because he promised her sex), he pays her a visit later. And then, there’s Amenadiel. D.B. Woodside (Suits, 24) has hung up his suit, kissed Jessica goodbye and got himself a set of big black wings. He’s trying to get Lucifer back to the Underworld. They’re all larger than life characters, which makes Chloe look like the odd one out. She pales in comparison, although towards the end of the pilot, when she opens up to Lucy Bencumberdict, we get a glimpse of something more than just a girl in uniform without a sense of humor.

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Entertainment Value
There’s only been the pilot, obviously. Maybe there’s a plan to give the show more gravitas, but pilots usually do make their intentions clear right away. If only to ease the minds of the heads of the network. There has to be something in the story, a starting point, a promise of this is what it’s all about. This is why we’ve created the show in the first place. I’d like to believe that networks make their decision whether or not to pick up a new series, based on the potential shown in the first episode. I don’t see it, yet. Lucy Frankenstruddle just wants to have a good time. That’s not a series, that’s entertainment with the least bit of entertainment value you can think of.

The Terrible Journey Of Becoming A Clown

While Steve and Nancy Carell do the ol’ shallow slapstick thing over at TBS, Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K. are giving their take on physical comedy on FX. Their new series Baskets has got the screwball, but just as much despair bleeding through it. It’s a small, wondrous show that hits as many as it misses, but because of the (slightly depressing) depths it explores, it is worthwhile.

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Poignant
It’s not a match made in heaven; FX and original comedy programming. Last year’s off-beat series The Comedians saw the return of Billy Crystal, but even though his timing hadn’t lost any of its, well, timing, viewers didn’t exactly appear in droves. Did they grow tired of the documentary style? Shows about the backlots of Hollywood? Poignancy? Josh Gad? All of the above? I’d say poignancy wasn’t the problem. Louie is a modest hit, and albeit more of a sketch show, that series absolutely soaks, if not to say smothers in poignancy. Well, there’s enough of that in Baskets, too. Ambition times naivety times bad luck; I’m certain that’s not the recipe for success. It’s a starting point for comedy, if you keep it grounded. Otherwise it’s just sadistic, dragging your main character through the mud. Baskets walks on thin ice. It continuously is one scene away from rubbing your nose in it a little too much, but the pilot keeps it together nicely. Nicely and barely.

La Symbolique Du Bouffon
There’s no one who can play ‘down on his luck’ better than Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, The Campaign, Due Date, Bored to Death). I mean, you can put on a beard and try to act like him, while you discover you’re The Last Man on Earth, but it’s just not the real thing. He plays Chip Baskets, an ambitious guy, but just not smart and/or lucky enough to make that ambition a reality. He wants to be a clown. A real, theatrical one. The kind that doesn’t just make you laugh, but also cry and even astonish. Unfortunately, his naivety sends him all the way to France, to follow an expensive course in ‘la symbolique du bouffon’ – without speaking one word of French. To make matters worse, he falls in love.

Love
After his trip or should I say catastrophe to Europe, he’s back in Bakersfield, California. With his new wife Penelope (Sabina Sciubba). He proposed, she said yes, but made it clear right away: she doesn’t love him. She is going to leave him for somebody else, and she wants a Green Card. O, and 40 bucks for HBO, let’s not forget that, because getting that amount of money together plays a big role in the pilot. Chip does find a job. As a rodeo clown. Further removed from the clown business seems impossible. He’s not making any money, not really, so in order to keep his wife happy, he visits his mother (Louie Anderson) and brother, asking to borrow some money. His twin brother is a perfect sack of shit; and who can play ‘sack of shit’ better than Galifianakis.

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Cynicism Free
There’s a love interest in the story, too – real love. Not so much ‘interest’, though, from Chip’s side. Martha Brooks (Martha Kelly), from the insurance agency, volunteers to drive him anywhere he wants to go, since his French scooter broke down. She’s dropping all kinds of hints, but Chip’s just too busy trying to survive and making his rodeo gig work. All he does is get hit by the bull, and he couldn’t be unhappier about it. He’s going to quit; he has to. So as a last resort, he puts on a show, dressed up beautifully as a true clown, with the right music, a spotlight on him as if he were standing on a big stage in Paris. This scene is awesome and totally saves the pilot. I was on the fence up to this point, but by seriously committing to Chip’s quest, and showing he actually got what it takes, Galifianakis, Louis C.K. and creator Jonathan Krisel won me over. The way Chip performs in front of the rodeo audience, gives the show heart and soul. In the middle of his performance, he gets hit by the bull, of course, to remind us it’s still a comedy, but all’s forgiven. If they continue to take Chip (and therefor the audience) seriously, by putting in cynicism free scenes in there, this could just be the small, wondrous show I was expecting to see.