THE INCREASINGLY POOR DECISIONS OF TODD MARGARET Season 3 Review
It’s fair to consider IFC’s THE INCREASINGLY POOR DECISIONS OF TODD MARGARET one of the darkest comedies ever made, and an underrated one at that. Creator David Cross stars as the titular Todd Margaret, a compulsively lying and bumbling business idiot who with every pratfall or screw-up incidentally launches himself and company into spiraling madness of legal and eventually apocalyptic extremes. TODD MARGARET’s third season is fairly high concept, though specifically connected to previous seasons. Cross agreed to come back again only because they managed to come up with such an interesting and strange premise, which they deliver on with manic tension and even more brazenly black humor. With its return comes the high recommendation of seasons one and two (on Netflix). Those who appreciate the romp should be pleased with the third, and much weirder, descent into utter insanity.
This is the extent of Todd Margaret’s utter stupidity
TODD MARGARET is a British sitcom, with each “series” clocking in at six episodes. David Cross and his co-writers Shaun Pye and Mark Chappell do not waste a beat or an episode, constantly adding wrinkles or developing characters to be paid off in a beautiful, chaotic explosion by episode six. It’s quite fun too, even though it’s filled with heart-racingly cringe-worthy material. Cross and gang want to make you squirm, and they’re successful since they manage to balance out the craziness with subtle undercurrents of pathos.
Season three kicks off in a bizarro-version of the first two seasons, which Todd saw as a dream. Originally, Todd Margaret was a bald, depressed, and single loser with no spine or common sense. Here, he has hair, a goatee, a girlfriend (played by Cross’ real wife Amber Tamblyn), and a slightly stronger sense of courage, or at least dickishness. The only complete similarity is that Todd works for a company selling Thunder-Muscle, an energy drink with questionable ingredients. Todd is sent to London to help coworkers (Will Arnett and Jack McBrayer, replacing the brilliant Spike Jonze) with a huge marketing plan. As he embarks, Todd has intense déjà vu but can’t place anything specifically. Thus is the game of season three: a sprawling, comic conspiracy puzzle.
Eat your heart out, CumberBITCH
Correlations to season one’s version of Todd’s trip are likewise apparent and Easter egg-like. Characters shift attitudes, events occur slightly differently, and a detective quality is introduced (going as far as aping BBC’s SHERLOCK in style). This season becomes a borderline philosophical romp of Todd questioning his fate and existence, challenging his actions at every turn. To put it lightly, things indeed get very, very bad. Most notable in TODD MARGARET’S past seasons is the deep and considerate character work. Cross and his writers comment on the individual moralities at play, looking at their actions as semi-cartoonish absurdities but seeing their motives as simply human. Even Todd, the moron that he is, struggles with his ego and heart, though his mind obviously but unintentionally drives him into deeper crap.
Cross plays up Todd’s humanity quite well, especially in sequences that basically mirror panic attacks or bad dreams (with seriocomic grace). He has surprising range, switching from being stuck in a corner to unrightfully puffing up his chest at the drop of a dime; his ignorance is a magical piece of comedy alone. Even still, we get strangely real insight to Todd’s insecurities and worries. He and all of his friends/enemies (including Blake Harrison and CATASTROPHE’s great Sharon Horgan) are all people with fates intertwined. Their tragedies are indeed tragedies, despite being so tragic that it’s hard to not laugh. Season three, with its ambitious premise, still does not shy away from being very smart about its characters. They make you care, which makes what happens to them all the more horrifying.
The real mystery in Todd Margaret’s third season is that tight goat
THE INCREASINGLY POOR DECISIONS OF TODD MARGARET is a perfect title, as the show flourishes in seeing how much of a stupid idiot Todd can be on a second-to-second basis. In season three, it sympathizes with its misguided and tragic hero with unique, suspenseful results. Of course, it’s still ingeniously cruel and stylish in the verve of something like Woody Allen’s more absurdist pieces, walking a tightrope between aggressively funny and daringly experimental. The season ends with a door left open for another, which actually could be quite fruitful. Again, it’s effective only after seeing seasons one and two, which can be a hard sell, but it’s worth it for what is one of the most truly special comedies in the past decade or so. Season four would be an exciting proposition if they can figure something out, because they clearly found a way to make this character premise run for miles. Like its theme song suggests with a brutal smirk in its vocals, “things are going to get worse…” For the world of comedy, that’s a good thing.
THE INCREASINGLY POOR DECISIONS OF TODD MARGARET is available to watch in its entirety on IFC.com