Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Andy Barker P.I. Review

Thursday night is the premiere of the new NBC show starring Conan O’Brien’s former sidekick, Andy Richter, and because I’m an important guy I got to see an advanced copy of the pilot episode. Okay, that’s not quite true. I did see it, but I saw it online at and anyone can go and see it right now too. I just wanted to sound important. Back to the point though, I figured I’d give you an advance review of it so you could check it out for yourself when the show debuts tomorrow.

What It’s About: The show centers around a simple, boring, accountant (is that redundant?) who opens up a new office in a strip mall in his town. He words directly above a video store operated by the hilarious Tony Hale from Arrested Development, and above a falafel restaurant owned by the ultra-patriotic, yet non-American, (Wally) Marshall Manesh. Things don’t seem like they’ll get interesting at all until a women wonders into Andy’s new office thinking that he’s the man who had the place before Andy moved in, a man named Lew Staziak, a private investigator. Andy doesn’t seem interested at first, but once he gets into it, he develops a taste for it.

Why I’m Going To Watch: I loved Andy Richter’s first Fox show, Andy Richter Controls The Universe, not just because it was quirky and well-written, but also because it had an outstanding cast of characters. And this show seems to have been built with the same recipe. The pilot featured several clever sight-gags and some very funny performances, so I must say, I’m interested. It wasn’t the best pilot ever, but pilots can be very hard to make amazing simply because you have to spend so much time introducing characters, unless you’re Lost and you simply choose to introduce the characters over time. I’m hooked for now at least.

Why You Should Watch: Andy Richter is hilarious. Tony Hale is hilarious. The show is executive-produced by Conan O’Brien. Conan is hilarious. Nick Cannon is also hilarious, although he isn’t associated with this show. You should watch this show because it’s funny and because I said so otherwise poor Andy Richter may be doomed to walk the earth alone and without much work, kind of like the Incredible Hulk or Norm MacDonald.

So all this talk about Andy Richter and his new show and that brief mention of his old show made me start to get nervous about a potential quick cancellation. I’m not saying this show won’t last, but I have to say, based not only on Andy’s history and on my history of finding shows that I like that get cancelled, I’m a little worried. So I figured why not spend this time giving you a list of my all-time favorite quickly cancelled shows. Now only shows that lasted less than 2 seasons can qualify so shows like Futurama and Arrested Development, which both deserved to be given more time, cannot make this list.

1. Undeclared – Of all the ones on this list, the cancellation of this show is by far the most confounding. Not only was it absolutely amazing, it also seemed that it could have had a very broad appeal. This show wasn’t just for college kids and high school kids, it was also for people who are under 30. Okay I realize that that isn’t the broadest audience ever, but still, this should have been way more popular than it was. (Available on DVD)

2. Clone High USA – Probably the only show I’ve ever seen on MTV that I absolutely loved. It was a cartoon about clones of famous people like JFK, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, etc. who all went to the same high school together. It was a great satire of the “teen drama” which was really picking up steam around that time. Turns out though, people don’t really like satire that much I guess. (Available on DVD, kind of)

3. Andy Richter Controls The Universe – Andy Richter’s first attempt at a TV show got two half seasons to work with, the first one was good, the second one was amazing. Probably a bit too amazing in fact. I imagine there weren’t a whole lot of people out there who could handle the brilliance that is the following exchange (I’m paraphrasing here, but you’ll still get it)

- This is like that time you thought Hitler was running the coffee cart.
- Well when Hitler comes back he’s not just going to goose-step in.
- When Hitler comes back?

Okay, perhaps you needed to see it happen rather than just read it. Sorry. Well trust me, it was a great show. (Not available on DVD)

4. The Critic – I don’t simply enjoy this show because the Simpsons crossover episode is one of my favorite Simpsons episodes ever, I enjoy it because the Hollywood and television satire is dead-on. And also I really liked that episode where Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in a fake movie where he was a rabbi. That was priceless. (Available on DVD)

5. The John Larroquette Show – Now you may be saying that this show lasted four seasons and thus doesn’t qualify for this list, and technically you’d be right. However, anyone who actually watched the show knows that the retooling for season two effectively killed this show, so therefore it’s really like it was only on one season. It may be the most depressing show ever to air, but it was expertly done and it was funny when it needed to be (when it needed to be was whenever you were on the verge of hanging yourself or drinking a whole bottle of Jack Daniels and passing out on your couch loathing your very existence. By the way, I was 12 when this show first aired.) (Not available on DVD)

6. Eyes – I actually wrote a piece a few years back about this show’s cancellation and how much it upset me. Perhaps we didn’t need another show about a wacky team of investigators, and that’s why most people didn’t watch it, but I did and I found it very enjoyable. It was intriguing and well plotted and simply good. ABC disagreed however. They also did think though that a show about a blind police officer was a good idea, so my opinion of this show gains a bit more weight. (Not available on DVD, which is why all five episodes of the show are still on my Tivo to this day)

7. Invasion – Another ABC show that didn’t last (I’m not mad at you ABC, just a bit frustrated. You cancel shows like this one and yet Grey’s Anatomy lives on and now I hear you’re talking about a Grey’s spin-off show and that just makes me want to hurt myself). I found the mystery and the intrigue very interesting and I thought the acting and production values were quite impressive for TV. People probably got scared away though by the fact that it was a bit too X-Files like. I do wish though that they would have at least had some kind of ending rather than the cliffhanger that ended season one. (Available on DVD)

8. Stella
– This Comedy Central show about three guys who always wore suits was headed for cancellation practically from its first second of air-time. The show was way too weird to ever last, even on a cable channel like Comedy Central. I found it enjoyable, but I’m really not surprised that I was one of the few who did. (Available on DVD)

9. ReunionReunion wasn’t actually that great, especially towards the end, but I’ll always have this terrible empty feeling because I never actually found out which friend killed the other friend. That kind of thing happens after you watch 12 episodes of a show, even if it isn’t that great. Someone please just tell me what happened so I can get on with my life. (Not available on DVD)

10. Love Cruise – This show was actually borderline unwatchable, but I don’t care. Sure it was basically a rip-off of every single dating reality show ever made (but it was on a boat, a love boat! Not to be confused with the other Love Boat show, that’s why they called it Love Cruise. Quite clever, don’t you think?), and sure it was only filler between seasons of the hilarious, yet extremely unfortunate, Temptation Island, but that doesn’t bother me. If it came back on today, I’d watch it. Just keep that in mind, studio execs. (Not available on DVD)


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