“I’ll go get my thing!” – Puddle
I feel bad about missing Will Arnett’s last show, Arrested Development, while it was still on the air. Worse, I had the gall to denounce it as an unfunny show, having not really enjoyed what I had watched at the time. Long story short, watched the DVDs years later, and I have now seen the error of my ways and the comedic genius of Will Arnett. I don’t feel as bad about missing Keri Russell’s last show (shows?), but from the little I’ve seen of her onscreen, she seems to have some decent comedic chops. The two of them together seemed like a recipe for effortless hilarity, and the premise sounded funny enough: rich, spoiled guy Steven Wilde decides to start doing environmental and humanitarian work to impress his childhood sweetheart, Emmy. Sounds like we’ve got a winner on our hands, right?
It was decent. I’d read not-so-great things about the premiere, but it got some honest laughs out of me, and there were some funny lines and good visual gags. It wasn’t overly hilarious, and a bit on the over-the-top side with some of the jokes (they go out of the way to demonstrate that Wilde is completely out of touch with how the other 99.99% of the world lives their lives), but it still made me laugh. I wasn’t crazy about the narration of the show (narrated by Emmy’s daughter, Puddle). The art of narration takes a certain subtle, soothing, and wise-sounding touch (or barring that, a distinctive voice that fits the tone of the show), and the voice of a 6-year-old girl just doesn’t really provide that. The character itself is likeable enough and actually has a decent amount of chemistry with Will Arnett, but I’m not sure it was the wisest decision to allow her to be the first-person character of the show (if anything, they should have gone the Arrested Development route of just having an omnipotent narrator).
In the end, the humanitarian character decides to take a chance and move from the jungle back to America, both to help her daughter have a more normal life and to help Wilde become less of a douche. The reasoning behind Emmy’s actions are kind of flimsy, especially considering her prior devotion to helping indigenous jungle tribes, but the show is trying to work the angle of the two main characters still having feelings for each other, and I’m willing to buy the notion that she would make a dumb reason seem more important than it actually is for the sake of having a shot with the one that away. Who among us can say they haven’t done the same? With the origin story out of the way, maybe we can now enjoy some decent comedy without having to worry so much about the plot. I’m reminded that some of my favorite sitcoms started off kind of slow (30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, etc.), so I’m more than willing to give this a shot. Hopefully it can find it’s footing sooner than later.
There was also a nicely placed nod to Arrested Development (“I’ve made a huge mistake”). Well done, lads.