The novelty of new AD episodes is starting to wear off, and it’s time to take a look at what the Netflix season really has to offer fans. If we judge it based on episode 2, it isn’t much.
Let’s break it down…
The second episode is dedicated to George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), or the newly christened Father B. It’s surprising how unfunny this episode is, especially since some of the best moments from the original series are courtesy of George the elder, like the Boyfights videos and almost any of the prison scenes. But as I watched “Borderline Personalities,” I found myself checking to see how many minutes were left of the episode a few times, because I was actually bored.
Firstly, the plot of the episode isn’t all that engaging. The attempt to swindle CEOs out of their money via a sweat lodge could’ve been funny were it one of a few stories driving this episode. Without any other stories to break it up, the episode just drags. And the only real conflict this story has, that George owes $15 million on the land, doesn’t even appear until a few minutes before the episode ends.
The cameos don’t seem as well thought-out, either. While I appreciate the choice of actors, they aren’t given material that takes advantage of their particular talents. We all know that John Slattery can hit a scene out of the park when Roger Sterling is high on drugs, so why waste him on lifeless anesthesiologist Dr. Norman? Even worse is the tragedy that befalls Mary Lynn Rajskub. Why on earth would anyone ask the actress who brought the acerbic and witty Chloe O’Brian to life to play a mute character? Community creator Dan Harmon makes an appearance, too, but it is literally just an appearance, because he doesn’t say more than one line. I sincerely hope that these actors are given more to do in later episodes, because otherwise, these casting coups are just wasted opportunities.
I never thought I would ever write this about AD, but it must be said: a few of the jokes in this episode actually feel stale. The wall between the US and Mexico and the Halliburton Teen jokes fall flat. I understand that the purpose of these new episodes is to fill in the time between when the series ended and where the characters are now, so I appreciate why these jokes are in the episode. Unfortunately it doesn’t make them funny now.
Probably the best moment of the episode is the one that Netflix spoiled for fans ahead of time – the smoking scene between Lucille (Jessica Walter) and Buster (Tony Hale). This scene is perfect, and exactly what I had hoped the season would (and perhaps will?) be like. I want to spend more time with this family that is somehow simultaneously loving and apathetic. Buster’s cry when she pulls out another cigarette is a moment of pure beauty.
As usual, the throwaway bits are AD’s bread and butter. By pausing the episode, I was able to read the entire retraction that was written in WE12, and was treated to a snarky statement that I’m sure Hurwitz and company delighted in writing. Netflix really does seem to be the ideal distribution platform for this show, where fans can rewind and pause to really appreciate the details planted so subtly throughout.
- The small budget for this series isn’t usually noticeable, but it certainly is outside of the sweat lodge. The obviously CGI’d lodge and the green screen background are a huge distraction, and they appear a couple of times in this episode. Did anyone else find them distracting, too?
- Not every cameo was wasted. Busy Philipps (Cougar Town) and Natasha Leggero (Burning Love) too are only on screen for a few seconds, but fill that time with drawing moustaches on John Beard. And that is more than enough.
And now I turn this review over to you. What has been your favorite cameo so far? And how many times have you watched the Buster and Lucille scene? Sound off in the comments below!
Join us again next Thursday when we review “Indian Takers.” The entire series is available now on Netflix.