Hit or Sh**: TBS’ ANGIE TRIBECA

In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.

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ANGIE TRIBECA is a show that’s smart enough to be as flagrantly goofy and stupid as it is. Like a modern update of POLICE SQUAD!, it lampoons the serious, character driven detective dramas of channels like USA and TNT. What results is a bustling joke factory, led by a specific cast of clichéd types satirizing the genre to death. Whether the comedy works or not is left to subjectivity, but it comes so hard and fast that it’s at least admirably exhaustive. ANGIE TRIBECA is a refreshing, out of nowhere venture, with semi-old school and cartoonish excitement aimed squarely at being really funny. For the most part, it succeeds.

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Rashida Jones does intense dramatic work here

This is probably an insult to TBS and its normal output, but this show is definitely their most unique pick in years. It’s of a rare breed that doesn’t really populate the airwaves anymore, save for Netflix and its alt-comic tendencies. The show’s wild spirit might catch some off guard, as it hits the ground running with nonsensical whimsy. Eventually, it settles into a unique groove, rooted in reference to the modern cop procedural. Every possible cliché is hit on the head with such comic precision that a shot can house two to three gags at a time. The show’s strength is this sense of rewatchability, as it careens from joke to joke, including the likes of pun-filled word and prop play, background gags, and physical insanity.

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Indulging in stupid stunt gags is what Angie Tribeca does best

The show is funny, but definitely vulnerable to slip-ups. This is expected with this many gags being flung out at machine gun speeds. Some jokes are flat or get mere chuckles, and some risk being run into the ground and back, which can lead to either uncomfortable moments or absurdist magic. There are also some questionable bits concerning race and gender that feel as old school as AIRPLANE’s less enlightened tendencies, despite TRIBECA’s cast being fairly diverse and active. This doesn’t excuse the show, but rather makes its existence and M.O. even more peculiar.

ANGIE TRIBECA can also struggle with handling characters in a serialized fashion. The shows it mocks are very keyed into the emotional lives of their troubled protagonists and TRIBECA digs into this. Having us care for Angie and her cohorts isn’t unreasonable, but when it’s genuine, it tends to confuse the overall tone. The show seems to want to have its cake and eat it too by having the mawkish over the top character qualities of its ilk while also trying to be semi-real about their feelings. It’s hard to get heartfelt investment when an episode could end with a deeply uncomfortable joke or in chaotic nonsense, lacking emotional perspective. Even still, the cast here is charismatic, so investment feels inherent with such fun and weird chemistry on display.

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Two perfectly charming idiots

Rashida Jones feels comfortable in her lead role as a badass with demons, but though she is the show’s namesake, ANGIE TRIBECA soars as an ensemble affair. Jere Burns plays Angie’s boss in a delightfully angry fashion, keeping up the craziness at all points. Andree Vermeulen and Deon Cole are great as side officers, along with, you know, a dog (who is also good). Hayes MacArthur looks exactly like the standard male sidekick in shows like BONES or THE KILLING, which is perfect. His dedication to being a sensitive wisecrack with peculiar life tastes is practically a running joke in itself, and a successful one at that. The amount of guest stars this show pulls is quite astonishing on an episode to episode basis, with Alfred Molina in a semi-recurring role, and folks like Adam Scott, James Franco, Lisa Kudrow, Gary Cole, Jeff Dunham, and many others coming in out of nowhere. With the Carrells at the helm it’s no wonder that friends of theirs would be so willing to play along in this out-there comedy sandbox.

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BREAKOUT STAR CONFIRMED

TRIBECA has already been confirmed for a second season, but even weirder is the fact that its first season already came and went. In an effort mirroring Netflix’s day of full season dumps with their original shows, TBS decided to air all of ANGIE TRIBECA’S season one in a “binge marathon.” They aired all ten episodes from top to bottom. It doesn’t seem to have made a huge impact, but it definitely calls attention to itself and works more like an event or even a movie screening. It’s already a weird pacing to have for a comedy show, but the way television and film are viewed is changing constantly, so why not experiment? It didn’t start off steadily, but with what it tries to bring to the forefront, it’s hard to deny a certain level of deserved admiration. With a second season, ANGIE TRIBECA could surely blossom into the even stronger hit it deserves to be, coming from noteworthy first steps.

Verdict: Hit

ANGIE TRIBECA is currently available in its entirety on TBS.com

Rocky Pajarito

Rocky Pajarito is a Crossfader guest contributor, writer, pop-culture enthusiast, and filmmaker based in Orange County, CA. He will try, and fail, in bringing up the film MACGRUBER in every single thing he writes.

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