"Angie Tribeca" - Season 4A Review

And the funniest TV show since Police Squad! (or A Touch of Cloth, if you're British and/or a Charlie Brooker fan) is back!

If those two shows don't ring a bell, then think Zucker Brothers movies. Airplane!, Top Secret!, and Kentucky Fried Movie. And them "borrowing" from the Marx Brothers movies.

If none of those ring a bell, then the odds are you're not a Angie Tribeca fan. Which is fine: to quote a The Strain title, it's not for everyone. Basically, Angie Tribeca is, for lack of a better, a non sequitur comedy series filled with slapstick, wordplay, and... well, non sequiturs. We're not talking Noel Coward here: there's (U.S. network blurred) nudity, sleaze, bad puns, and jokes that could charitably be called "groaners". It's created by Steve and Nancy Carrell. Yes, that Steve Carrell.

Leslie Nielson, Alan North, Police Squad!

It's the kind of humor where everything is askew and no one ever notices. And everyone takes everything literally. To use an example above from an episode of Police Squad!, when someone asks if a name rings a bell, a bell rings every time someone says the name. One of the characters will say, "And here's the kicker" while delivering a monologue, and a football kicker shows up to deliver the plot point. Nobody ever wonders why a football kicker suddenly showed up, and he disappears and is never mentioned again.

Angie Tribeca started in 2016 on TBS and has mostly been a summer series although the show premiered in the winter of 2016. Unfortunately, it doesn't look good for the show's future. There were no new episodes in the summer of 2018, and now TBS is burning off season 4 in two batches of five episodes on 12/29 and 12/30. So they're basically rushing to air the episodes before the end of 2018, which typically means they're trying to finish off some contractual obligation.

Also, season 4 is a game-changer/jump-the shark type season that makes you wonder: "Where do they go from here?". At the end of season 3, Angie was arrested for not being Angie Tribeca by Mayor Joe Perry. Season 4 jumps 20 years into the future, one of the main stars (Hayes MacArthur) is gone, another one (Deon Cole) only shows up for one episode, and they introduce two new main characters. The first is Kiersey Clemons as Maria Charo, a tech expert of sorts and a reader of body language. She doesn't seem to serve any purpose in season 4 in the first five episodes.

The second "main star" is special guest star Bobby Cannavale, who plays Angie's abandoned-when-he-was-2 son Angie Jr. He's now a cop as well.

Jere Burns, Rashida Jones, Angie Tribeca

Also along for the ride are Angie herself (Rashida Jones), forensics expert Monica Scholls (Andree Vermeulen), and their oft-yelling boss, Pritkin Atkins (Jere Burns). Perry (Matthew Glave) is now the Vice President, and his administration is riddled with scandal. He's put together a special division of the police force which consist of our five heroes. Now they travel the country dealing with crimes that go beyond the scope of normal law enforcement.

This leads to another trademark of the non-sequitur comedies (NCS): a reliance on running gags. Each episode the team heads to the [fill in the blank: Medical, Gaming, Fashion, Financial] Capital of the U.S. to investigate a crime. They travel in the same van, which has a different disguise each week. Pritkin gives them a briefing, after telling the driver, Murphy, he can't listen in because it's above his pay grade. Every single episode so far.

Note that since TBS is releasing season 4 in two five-episode marathons, this is only a review of the first five episodes. Not sure if I need to review episodes 6-10 tomorrow night: it's the same general style.

"The Force Wakes Up" brings us up to speed on everything above, all before the opening credits. Angie goes to prison, we cut to "20 years later", she gets out of prison, and Pritkin introduces her to her new team. Which is some of the old team and the two new team members. And a German Shepherd, Hoffman. Since Hoffman was in the first three seasons as a police dog, this is Hoffman's grandson... Hoffman.

And that's another mark of many NSCs: 20 years pass but almost nothing has changed. The technology isn't particularly futuristic, and we get one or two gags about the future (Hoffman being the original's grandson, Angie having a son) and then they move on and it might as well be the time period of the original series. Check out the season 1 finale of Sledge Hammer sometime if you haven't already. They ended the season with a nuclear bomb blowing up LA and killing the entire main cast. Then season 2 was "Sledge Hammer: The Early Years" but it was exactly the same as season 1.

First, Angie explains she wanted a different life so she took the name "Angie Tribeca" when she worked at the DMV (and got the name from an eye chart), and took the identity from a woman who died in a meet-cute accident, she became a cop. Then the team head to the Mustard Clinic to go undercover to keep someone from assassinating a French ambassador, Pierre Cardin (Taran Killam). Who is speaking out against "FREXIT", and is at the clinic to undergo scrotal enhancement surgery.

And yes, there are goofy names, which is another mark of NSC. We have "Monica Scholls" and "Pierre Cardin" and in the past, "Sergeant Pepper" and "Zaius" and "Edelstein"

Taran Killam, Angie Tribeca S04E01

Angie has a one-night stand with the head surgeon, Autumn Portugal (Eliza Coupe) and as it turns out, Autumn is the assassin. Meanwhile, we get another mark of the NSC: something humorous going on in the background while the characters either don't notice, pretend not to notice, and/or keep a straight face. For instance, at one point Nurse Margot (Angel Laketa Moore) is shaving Cardin's groin. It's tastefully done beneath a cloth, but Pritkin and Angie are trying to hold a conversation with Cardin while absurd masses of pubic hair fly in the air.

At the end Eliza reveals she's actually a CIA spy. And... it goes nowhere. Supposedly there's some big conspiracy involving Perry and the CIA and the evil French (is that a non sequitur in itself? :) ), and they'll mention it maybe once an episode until the season finale when suddenly it becomes a super important. (Editor's note: it doesn't.)

"Glitch Perfect" starts with a computer high school teacher slamming his RV into an armadillo and the RV cracking up while the armadillo walks away. Eventually we find out the teacher (Clifton Clef, of the Goofy Name department) was writing computer viruses for terrorists. Angie goes undercover posing as the guy after a complicated prosthetic measurement process that ends with Angie looking just like herself, except with a pair of glasses. She's an overnight expert on computer coding, but it turns out Clef was also the glee club coach. And we get into a weird parody of Glee. Angie knows nothing about singing, and convinces them to perform "Happy Birthday to Me" as their blowout number as the national competitions.

Angie Tribeca

Things get (more) complicated when the enemy terrorist, "Claude Merlot", wants Angie to prove she's Clef by winning the championships. The glee club knocks 'em dead with a performance that Pritkin, Hoffman, and the rest leap into for no particular reason. The club still doesn't win, until the rival club is disqualified because one of Angie's kids slipped a *expletive deleted* into a rival's backpack... just like he's done every year.

"Glitch Perfect" features another one of those non-sequitur scenes I tried to describe. Pritkin is posing as a football coach, and Monica is posing as a player. He calls her into his office, briefs her, gives her a pep talk, then yells at her to "drop and give me 20". And... she drops to the floor and hands him a football jersey with "20" on it.

"Joystick Luck Club" has AJ going undercover as a gamer when someone cripples a competitive player. He discovers the player who spilled the beans on the gaming company has a bed full of Euros (everyone thinks the Euros are some weird kind of counterfeit money. Running Gag #63 in a series: collect them all!). It turns out the crippled player's girlfriend is the champion player in disguise. Why she's hanging out disguised as the girlfriend, I have no idea. With many of the episodes, the plots don't really make a lot of sense when you review them afterward. But presumably they're not supposed to: they're just hangers to put jokes on. Plus it's just 30 minutes minus commercials. Cardin from the first episode is in charge, and forces AJ and the girlfriend to fight it out in a battle to VR death, which will result in real death.

Episode 4, "Just the Fat, Ma'am", features a guest star appearance by Angelica Huston. That's also apparently part of the appeal of Angie Tribeca: Steve Carrell manages to get a lot of relatively famous people in, mostly comedians. So for instance, James Franco played the aforementioned Sgt. Pepper. Carol Burnett and Carl Reiner will appear in the Sunday episodes, according to the promos.

Five supermodels have died, and each of them had the DNA of dead Peruvian men on them. Pritkin and AJ travel to the jungles of Peru (an obvious bogus set) and discover that all of the men were fat. But they weren't when they got to the U.S. and were killed. Someone has been using their fat to make facial cream!

Deon Cole, Angie Tribeca S04E04

Meanwhile, Angie goes undercover working as an assistant for Anna Sumour (Ms. Huston). This is also Deon Cole's one appearance in the first five episodes: he's now a member of the "fashion police", and is dressed like Meshach Taylor in the movie Mannequin. Angie gets swept up in the wild life of a second assistant, and Anna takes her to a fashion show in Baghdad and tries to kill her with a poisoned stromboli. Cole's character, Tanner, shoots the stromboli out of Angie's hand and once again the day is saved. Meanwhile, AJ and Pritkin intercept the fat smuggler (who is relatively thin, but leaks fat from the packets hidden in his jacket) and try to fly his plane to Baghdad, and end up spinning the plane in circles.

The final episode of the first five is "Trader Foes". A trader is killed in his own tanning bed, and in a cute bit is reduced to a pair of spare ribs that Pritkin can't resist snacking on when no one is looking. AJ went from foster home to foster home so he's not impressed with the trader lifestyle, which is pretty much lifted from the movie Wall Street. However, the CEO Norrah Newt (Rose Byrne) soon recruits AJ in a scheme to undermine the U.S. economy on behalf of France and he becomes a greedy financie-type.

Angie manages to convince AJ he's hurting lots of people. After a "wearing a wire scene" that goes on at some length--AJ fails to get a good recording, and keeps going back with more and more blatant recording equipment while Norrah repeats the exact same dialogue each time--they arrest Norrah and that's it. There's no cliffhanger, no addressing the few subplots that have been raised. Cardin is still at large, Perry is still doing whatever he's doing.

Mark Mullaney Jr., Angie Tribeca, S04E04

Of the five episodes, I liked "Just the Fat, Ma'am" the most, mostly for the aforementioned kicker joke. But that's part of the NSC, too: there's not really a standout episode. The NSC usually goes with the technique of throwing jokes at the wall and seeing what sticks. Or to put it another way, if you didn't find a joke funny, then wait 30 seconds and another one will come along.

Overall, Angie Tribeca is probably the funniest thing on TV today. But that depends on what your definition of "funny" is. Since I like the Marx Brothers, and the Zucker Brothers, and Police Squad!, and A Touch of Cloth, Angie Tribeca has the kind of humor that I like. If any of these tickle your funny bone and you haven't checked out Angie Tribeca yet, give it a whirl. If you don't like that kind of deadpan humor, and M*A*S*H (especially the later seasons) and Cheers are more your speed, then you probably won't like Angie Tribeca.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

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If you do want to watch it, there's five more episodes on Sunday, 12/30, from 8 to 10:30 Eastern time in the U.S. Or catch it in repeats or on DVD or wherever.

Written by Gislef on Dec 30, 2018

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